MILDMAY – A group of people gathered in the pouring rain outside the Mildmay-Carrick Recreation Complex on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to protest Ontario’s new proof of vaccine requirement.
Ashley Grant, who organized the demonstration, said she isn’t against vaccines. She just thinks everyone should have the choice on whether or not to be vaccinated.
The requirement for all adults to show proof of vaccination and photo identification at public facilities like arenas has repercussions for children of unvaccinated parents that led her to call some friends to see what could be done.
“We organized this in about two days,” she said, “this” being a demonstration that had about 30 people when it got going at 6 p.m. Grant estimates that with people coming and going, the total number of participants over the course of a stormy evening numbered close to 100.
Since then, she said a lot of people “have been reaching out” to her, and want to be part of the next one. “They’re saying, ‘We want to be part of your movement.’” She said she hesitates to use the word “movement,” except in the context of, “We want to see some movement.”
She continues to make and take calls from people, and said the next demonstration could well be in Walkerton.
She stressed, “Vaccine should be a choice,” and questioned sending a six-year-old to the arena with a stranger. “That’s not safe.”
In Grant’s opinion, the entire vaccination passport situation has created an environment in which “some kids can play (hockey) and some kids can’t,” and where the government is telling children their parents can’t go to the arena because they’re not safe.
“How do you explain that to a child?” she asked. “It blows my mind.”
She referred to the government’s requirement for proof of vaccination as a “scary segregation policy that leads us down a very slippery slope.”
Grant said in a printed statement prior to the event that the arena situation hits close to home. She grew up in Mildmay, part of a family that was always involved in the community – fall fairs, minor sports and more.
“We were raised to believe that community meant supporting your neighbours, sticking together when things get hard, and respecting that being different was not a bad thing, but rather, a very good thing,” she wrote.
The COVID-19 vaccine passport changed that.
“All of the things I valued, and the importance of community, seem to be drifting away, along with the gradual removal of our human rights. I cannot walk into the arena that I became a fall fair ambassador in. I cannot watch my kids skate or play hockey on the ice surface I once skated on. I cannot enjoy a meal at my favourite restaurants with people I love. All of this because the discrimination being implemented in our province and country, white-knuckling people into putting something into their body against their will, and facing unconscionable consequences if they do not,” she wrote.
She wrote that the local arena, which should be a place filled with wonderful memories, “is just a place where crimes against humanity are encouraged and enforced.”
She stressed she’s all for choice.
“Get the vaccine, or don’t – it should be a choice, and then we move on with life.”
Grant decided to organize the demonstration because she wants government leaders and everyone else to see the faces of the families – parents and their children – who are saying no to the vaccine passport.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times