A 50-kilometre long column of honking trucks and cars definitely piqued the interest of Montreal photographer Paul Ozzello. Seeing them file into the capital inspired Ozello to head to Ottawa and see what he could capture of what was sure to be a moment for the history books.
"It was kind of a surreal moment. It felt really dystopian," Ozello told The Sam Laprade Show. "There's something kind of romantic seeing these primal men and women getting together to defy the government and stand up for what they believe. And I just wanted to convey this more human side of the truckers."
Shooting on his Polaroid camera gave him a different perspective - and the protesters saw him in a different light too. Ozello signed some of the photos and shared them with protesters and they did the same. He made a different connection with truckers while walking around downtown with them.
"Originally, I was very apprehensive of going I had heard news reports of violence and white extremists, and I was really apprehensive. But then it wasn't before long that I realized how different things really were," Ozello said. "People were jovial, festive and friendly. Everyone was saying hello smiling, laughing and I hadn't seen any of that since before the pandemic started. It's kind of a breath of fresh air."
When his exhibit opened at the Art+ Gallery on Sussex Street Jan. 26, the irony of it's location and timing wasn't lost on Ozello. Despite the challenging times the photos portray for a lot of Ottawa's residents, Ozello said he received a lot of positive feedback.
"I hope people can enjoy it, be open minded and think about what unites us," said Ozello.
The exhibit is running from Jan. 26 to Feb. 13, and all prints are available for sale online on Art+ Gallery's website.
Listen to the full interview with Paul Ozello on The Sam Laprade Show below.