On February 6, the City of Ottawa declared a State of Emergency in response to the continuing occupation of the downtown core and numerous untoward and dangerous incidents associated with this situation. As our city heads into a possible fourth weekend of occupation, The Ottawa Mission supports this declaration and subsequent measures by the provincial and federal government to address this situation given the size and duration of the blockade and its profoundly negative impact on our community as a whole.
On February 3, The Ottawa Mission sent a private message to organizers of the occupation urging them to leave the city, noting
“The recent messages posted by Cornerstone Housing for Women, The Shepherds of Good Hope, the Youth Services Bureau, and many other organizations, all highlight the disruption, pressure and angst that this demonstration has brought to the clients and staff of these organizations, a group of people already exhausted by the strains of the pandemic. We here at The Ottawa Mission are no different. We have had to scramble to carry on with full operations given the number of volunteers who were unable to make it in during the first weekend of the blockade, which made it much more difficult to carry out our daily operations. The constant noise from truck airhorns, some of the actions of the groups of protesters, as well as the continuing closure of public spaces due to the blockade, has placed a tremendous strain on the mental health of our clients, many of whom have advanced mental health conditions. As well, our staff and volunteers who live downtown have also seen a significant decline in their overall wellbeing due to the incessant noise and disruption caused by the blockade.”
Despite the continuing pleas of the citizens of Ottawa to regain their city and the urging of the clear majority of Canadians for the truck convoy to leave Ottawa, the occupation continues.
As with all Canadians, the people of Ottawa have experienced unprecedented hardship, stress and anxiety coping with the ongoing pandemic and doing everything they can to keep people safe from infection. Adding on top of this the unnecessary and damaging effects of the occupation has made things much worse for all residents of Ottawa, particularly those who are the most vulnerable.
In light of this continuing and extremely difficult situation, we urge all governments and those within the occupation to end this situation quickly and peacefully.
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