Learning about being Canadian: Freedom Convoy at Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill Freedom Convoy

The contrast struck me: From the serene insulated bubble of riding on the light rail with my headphones on, I stepped out into the frigid air of downtown Ottawa to horns blaring and people shouting, “Freedom!”

I almost burst out crying but felt I needed a shoulder to cry into, arms to hold me as I wept.

So, with tears in my eyes, I paused to breathe, looking around, incredulous, keeping some of my attention inward, sensing into what I was feeling, desiring to stay connected to my heart.

It was a lot to take in, and I didn’t yet know what was in store at Parliament Hill.

Arriving at the main intersection in front of the towering Parliament buildings, I leaned against a stoplight pole, emotion welling up inside me.

Breathing to stay connected to my feelings without being overwhelmed, I allowed myself to take in what was happening.

Hundreds of people were walking past with signs, Canadian flags were everywhere I looked, helicopters hovered overhead, and drums beat.

It was like Canada Day except with a deeper purpose, not celebratory, but a visceral sense of clarity in the air, Canadians clear on what is right and what is wrong.

The blaring, roaring, relentless truck horns were not obnoxious as I would have expected them to be.

They pierced my heart, and with each thundering boom resounded throughout my entire being almost causing me to erupt in tears each time.

I imagined the police in yellow reflective vests secretly admiring the crowds they were there to monitor, enjoying the way Canadians knocked on Trudeau’s door.

Sitting at home now thawing from the cold, I’m still reeling, this writing, part of my integration process, taking in the magnitude of what I experienced.

My toes became painfully numb, so I stuffed some heat pads in my boots so I could keep drifting through the crowds.

Every shoulder I bumped into I felt grateful for. I laughed as I was hit in the face by Canadian flags.

I felt compelled to record video of what I felt was a momentous moment in human history, hopefully globally and especially as a Canadian, so I alternated holding my phone and a Little Hottie heat pad in each hand.

I’ll remember this as the day Canadians said they were done with the lockdowns, mandates and the pandemic.

The day they showed where power really lies, with the people.

The day where the government remembered it’s here to serve the people.

It was the day I discovered what being Canadian was and felt like. Each one of us makes Canada what it is.

I felt like I got an education today.

I oscillated between moments of thinking of going home because of the cold and feeling I needed to go somewhere peaceful to break down and cry, and walking entranced, stunned and enraptured, deeply grateful for getting to be a part of the experience.

I appreciated the creativity of some of some of the signs as well as the heartfelt personal reflections:

A few young teenage girls, “We want our lives back. My body, my choice.”

A mom, “Unmask our children.”

Another mom, “Trudeau killed my son.”

“I want to be proud of this flag again.”

“Mental health is the real pandemic.”

“This is for Wade.”

“Fired for thinking I was free.”

A young man about my age, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” I like that one.

“I believe in informed consent.”

“Compliance breeds tyranny.”

“Our vets fought for freedom not fascism.”

“No communism for Canada.”

“We don’t want 2 classes of Canadians.”

“Medical segregation is wrong.”

“The parasitic elite have a monopoly on your health.”

“Coercion does not equal consent.”

“Pro vaccine, anti mandate.”

“I am not racist. I am not extremist. I am Canadian.”

All this in stark contrast to the subdued, mask-waring compliance I experience when I place my order at Tim Hortons or walk inside the Bayshore mall.

Seeing all of the signs was cause for me to self-reflect.

What sign would I want to walk with?

I realized there’s a vulnerability to displaying on the outside, how I really feel.

That made me appreciate each person’s right to express themselves in a deeper way. Even if I disagree with someone, I appreciate their right to share their truth.

I remember a few weeks ago while I was sick with covid mid-lockdown, being deeply concerned that other people were not concerned or not more concerned about the restriction of our freedoms.

But today, all that concern and fear melted away.

Of course, our work is not done, freedom, like love is a daily choice.

It wasn’t hope I felt, but rather an enlivening of my human spirit. I left nourished.

The truckers gave us an opportunity to unite, and for that I am deeply grateful. Thank you.

Trudeau gave us an opportunity to unite, and for that I am equally grateful. Thank you.

Covid is teaching us a lot about ourselves. Thank you.

The innermost depths of my being were stirred today, the flame of my heart fanned.

As I walked back onto the light rail to go home, it felt silly to put my mask on.

Someone sat in front of me without a mask and I appreciated that.

I kept mine on, reflecting on why, asking myself, “Are Canadians done with masks too?”

I know I’m ready.

Where are you at?




Exploring what it is to be human, I continue to follow my fascination. If you're unconventional, visit www.briantohana.com

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Brian Tohana

Brian Tohana

Exploring what it is to be human, I continue to follow my fascination. If you're unconventional, visit www.briantohana.com

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