Saturday, May 25, 2024
Feature/Profile

“If I don’t get fuel, we’ll freeze tonight” Michelle’s Convoy Story, Part 2

5.5 x 4.25-inch card. The white lettering top right reads: FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY Photo: Donna Laframboise

‘The most surreal experience any of us had surely lived’

by Donna Laframboise

Click here to read Part 1 of Michelle’s Story

An Alberta resident who assisted people who drove their own vehicles to the nation’s capital as part the Freedom Convoy, says her small network of Ottawa volunteers aided numerous people each day:

“I would get dozens of calls like this, ‘my car is blocked in, if I don’t get fuel, we’ll freeze tonight.’ So I assembled a team of ‘gas runners’…with jerry cans, sturdy wagons and a fuel truck, they were able to fuel up the vehicles that were parked in the downtown core. A young man on my crew, draped in the Canadian flag hauling a wagon through the snow covered streets ended up on the front page of the newspaper.”

Michelle says some people who wanted to help were short on funds, but had other resources:

“We came up with a creative way to use Air Miles points. Donators would secure hotel rooms in the downtown core on their points card. They would book the room, then I would arrive at the hotels, use my credit card for damages and incidentals (there weren’t any) and [meet] the people who had requested a room to check them in.

“Those rooms provided showers, warming stations and laundry services by day, and in the evening four to six people could have a restful, comfortable sleep. These rooms were a game changer. Having some privacy, getting clean and charging phones gave some ‘normalcy’ to the most surreal experience any of us had surely lived.”

Photo: Donna Laframboise

As a result of Michelle’s efforts, protesters from elsewhere received crucial assistance. Not from the government, and not from professional social workers. Aid was provided by ordinary people, fellow Canadians. The three-week Ottawa standoff was, in fact, a massive grassroots, community effort. This was a pooling of resources, a voluntary redistribution of wealth from those able to give to those in need.

This effort was absolutely necessary. In Michelle’s words: “Temperatures were cold, amenities were limited, people were far from home and the days wore on.”

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Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at  ThankYouTruckers.substack.com. It is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.