The staff and volunteers at an Ottawa homeless shelter say they were harassed by members of the truck convoy protesters on Saturday, January 29 who were demanding meals from the shelter’s soup kitchen.
The Shepherds of Good Hope homeless shelter took to social media to share their experience with some of the demonstrators who descended on the nation’s capital to protest Justin Trudeau and his government’s imposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday, January 30, the SGH says a member of the shelter was assaulted and a security guard was subsequently "threatened and called racial slurs" while attempting to help.
Friends, it's been a difficult 24 hours. Staff harassed for meals. A service user and security guard assaulted. Through it all, you have donated and filled our hearts with gratitude. Every cent will support people experiencing homelessness. Thank you. See our statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/TYHD8r8aLo— Shepherds of Good Hope (@sghottawa) January 30, 2022
"The staff and volunteers at our soup kitchen experienced verbal harassment and pressure from protestors (sic) seeking meals. While we are not certain of exact numbers, the demands for meals and verbal altercations continued for several hours over the dinner period."
SGH says some protesters were initially given meals in an attempt to "diffuse the conflict." But no further meals were provided after management was informed of the situation.
The homeless shelter also said trucks were parked in their ambulance drop-off zone for nearly 12 hours, and the Salvation Army outreach van "was not able to run in the downtown core," leading to back-up contingency plans for client transportation.
“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.”
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Earlier today, our staff and volunteers experienced harassment from convoy protestors seeking meals from our soup kitchen. The individuals were given meals to diffuse the conflict. Management was then informed of the issue and no 1/2— Shepherds of Good Hope (@sghottawa) January 30, 2022
The so-called ‘freedom rally’ drew thousands of people to Ottawa’s downtown core for a large protest at Parliament Hill.
While the protest was largely peaceful, Mayor Jim Watson denounced the actions of the demonstrators seeking meals at Shepherds of Good Hope.
“Completely unacceptable behaviour by these convoy members,” he tweeted Sunday morning. “Harassing volunteers and staff at a homeless shelter is a new low and severely damages the credibility of these protesters.
“Where are the organizers to denounce these outrageous actions?”
Completely unacceptable behaviour by these convoy members. Harassing volunteers and staff at a homeless shelter is a new low and severely damages the credibility of these protesters. Where are the organizers to denounce these outrageous actions?— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) January 30, 2022
At least one local business rallied around Shepherds of Good Hope after the incident.
Spark Beer, a brewery in Chinatown, announced on social media it would be donating proceeds of sales on Sunday, January 30 to the shelter, calling them “our amazing downtown neighbours.”
Shepherds of Good Hope thanked community members who chose to respond to the situation by giving generously.
"Shepherds of Good Hope has been overwhelmed by the response we've received from our community and across the country," continued their statement. "Thank you - we are extremely grateful to have this opportunity to highlight the incredible work done by our teams."