‘A REALLY TOUGH DAY’: Convoy protesters make things difficult for staff at Shepherds of Good Hope shelter: CEO

Two apparent protesters taking part in the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers and supporters railing against COVID-19 health measures this weekend allegedly assaulted a homeless person near Shepherds of Good Hope Saturday.

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Ottawa’s Shepherds of Good Hope has received an outpouring of support and donations after its staff were harassed and a client was assaulted by “Freedom Convoy” protesters on the weekend.

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On Saturday, a group of protesters associated with the convoy of truckers and supporters railing against COVID-19 health measures in downtown Ottawa harassed staff and demanded food from its soup kitchen in an altercation that lasted for hours. Shelter officials described their behavior as “mob-like”.

Earlier, a man who lives in the shelter was assaulted outdoors by protesters who then hurled racial slurs at a security guard who went to assist him, the shelter’s president and CEO said Sunday.

Deirdre Freiheit said the situation was upsetting for everyone. Staff members, who were being harassed, initially served meals to some of the protesters in order to de-escalate the situation, she said.

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“It was a very difficult day for them. The disruptions were many. They are working hard, they are tired and we are short-staffed. When people are taking away their ability to provide services to many of the most vulnerable people in the city, it is very discouraging.

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“It was a really tough day all around.”

For much of the day Saturday, access to Shepherds, at the corner of Murray Street and King Edward Avenue, was blocked by unattended protest trucks that were left running. Freiheit said that meant ambulances were unable to get in and staff had a more difficult time reaching people in the community who might be overdosing or in need of help.

“That could have cost somebody their lives.”

A tweet from Shepherds of Good Hope about the situation has drawn outrage and donations to Shepherds. At one point on Sunday, its website became overwhelmed with people trying to make donations.

Freiheit said it is encouraging that people are offering support and donations during a tough weekend.

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“There is always some good that comes out of difficult situations.”

Outrage was also continuing to grow online to news that staff at Ottawa’s Shepherds of Good Hope had been harassed into feeding some of the protesters.

The shelter tweeted Saturday that this had put a “significant” strain on its resources.

“Earlier today, our staff and volunteers experienced harassment from convoy protesters seeking meals from our soup kitchen,” the tweet said. “The individuals were given meals to diffuse (sic) the conflict. Management was then informed of the issue and no further meals were given to protesters. Our soup kitchen is committed to providing meals to people experiencing and at risk of homelessness in Ottawa. This weekend’s events have caused significant strain to our operations at an already difficult time. ”

In a statement Sunday, the shelter noted that Saturday’s incident occurred two years to the day after the declaration of a State of Emergency on Housing and Homelessness in Ottawa.

“Since then, we have battled an unprecedented global pandemic. We have lost many community members due to the toxic overdose crisis. Our staff are beyond exhausted. We are so proud of how they have weathered the events of this weekend, as they weather all things, with courage and compassion. ”

To donate: https://secure3.convio.net/sogh/site/Donation2?df_id=1480&mfc_pref=T&1480.donation=form1

Mayor Jim Watson wrote on Twitter that this was “completely unacceptable behavior” by the protesters.

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