We, the undersigned, denounce the return of a “Freedom Convoy” to Manitoba, re-branded as the “World Unity Convoy 2023.”
Last year, we witnessed the rapid spread of misinformation and the frequent use of harassment, intimidation and other threatening tactics against downtown inhabitants. On the first anniversary of this divisive movement, we stand with the many communities across Canada who understand that these convoys are not about freedom in the abstract, but are part of a movement fuelled by anger and hate.
The white nationalist agenda of the Freedom Convoy is well documented and precedes the COVID-19 pandemic. As many have observed, its original organizers were not from the trucking industry as claimed. Rather, these were former leaders of the Yellow Vest Movement, the Wexit Party, and other far-right interests, and a substantial number of its leaders were politically active in opposition to parliamentary motion 103 on systemic racism and religious discrimination. These organizers have previously attempted to stoke movements against immigration on behalf of the political right and against carbon taxes on behalf of the Canadian oil industry. The Freedom Convoy and its associated gatherings are just the next iteration.
The pandemic laid bare how inequitable our society has become. Far too many people struggled prior to the pandemic and lock-downs, job loss, and public health regulations added to financial and emotional strain. Our communities face many overlapping crises, including rising inequality, a broken health care system, systemic racism, and climate change. Community Solidarity Manitoba is a coalition of local community organizations who are committed to the actual practice of creating a safer and more just world. Together, we are members of labour unions, abolitionist groups, student movements, and social justice organizations with longstanding commitments to economic justice, equity, and public health.
We honour and stand in solidarity with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit Plus Implementation Committee, and other Indigenous-led organizations who have denounced the convoy for its white supremacist values and practices, including its blatant appropriation of the issue of MMIWG2S+ to further a colonial agenda. Last year, we witnessed first-hand the chaos and hostility that the convoy brought to our city, where downtown residents were menaced with symbols and epithets of hate for consecutive weeks. We call on the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg to prepare to actively respond to protect the rights of residents and ensure their health, safety and well-being during the presence of the convoy in the province. This requires a holistic response engaging multiple departments, including transit, social services, fire and paramedic, and more.
The right to gather and to protest is crucial, and our organizations have defended this practice time and again, on picket lines and in solidarity with marginalized groups in their struggles for liberation; but freedom of assembly does not extend to targeted harassment. As we continue to call for real solutions to deepening inequality and systemic injustice in our communities, we steadfastly oppose this new iteration of the Freedom Convoy for what it is—a movement of the far-right that recruits from desperation, and a distraction from the real concerns facing the communities where we organize.
Community Solidarity Manitoba believes that we must unite and work together to meet the multiple crises we currently face and to fight for crucial issues of social justice. We are working to overcome the divisions between us that are exacerbated by the Freedom Convoy and to provide leadership alongside working and low-income people at this moment. Our many organizations invite your participation. Working together is our only way forward to build, demand, and achieve a better world.
Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC)
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba
Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Manitoba
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2348
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 744
Healthcare For All
Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL)
Manitoba Health Coalition
Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Mennonite Central Committee
Peace Alliance Winnipeg
Prairie to Pine Regional Council
The United Church of Canada
Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 832
Union of National Employees (UNE) Local 50773
Winnipeg Labour Council
Winnipeg Police Cause Harm
Women’s March Winnipeg