Organizers of Yellow Vest North Bay expressed disappointment over the small turnout for Saturday morning’s protest outside City Hall.
A total of eight people gathered to protest the UN Global Compact on Migration and the Canadian carbon tax.
“We were hoping for at least 50. Maybe the next one we’ll have more. We’re going to be doing assemblies once a month, depending, with the other regions in Ontario or Canada,” said protest co-organizer Lisa Lefebvre.
“This is a very peaceful protest, no violence. We’re not here to point fingers, and we’re not here to attack anybody. We’re really peaceful people,” said Lefebvre.
“My message is that we need to wake up because our borders are down right now, and that means anybody can come in, anybody from criminals, terrorists, killers really and former ISIS members. And this can be from anywhere in the world that are coming in. We’re trying to protect our people and the immigrants that are already here. We’re for immigrants. Legal immigrants. Make sure all their papers are right before they come into Canada. We want to make sure that everybody is safe.”
The group also protested the Trudeau government’s stance on the matter.
“He wants us to pay for anything they need. And I feel that’s wrong. We work hard for our money, and it is hard for us. There’s going to be low income, there’s middle classes that are going to be struggling for jobs. Our way of life. It is going to be hard for us.”
Bonnie Dermott who attended the yellow vest protest in North Bay, says her issue is with people who don’t go through the proper channels in order to enter the country legally.
“It makes me angry and it makes me upset, and I work with seniors and I see the financial situation they’re in, medical, healthcare, stuff that they wish they could get and can’t get, and then I watch our government give money away, hand over fist, allowing people into the country without question,” said Dermott.
“I’m sure these people need help. I know everybody needs help, but they give money the taxpayers pay, to people who don’t belong to the country, and basically let the people who live in this country go without. To me it is unfair for our government to take our tax dollars that we work hard and pay for, for causes we do not support.”
Vince Dermott wants illegal immigrants stopped at the border.
“People who come here legally, that’s fine. We have all come here at one point in time, our families, our ancestors. But coming here illegally is not an option. People who come here illegally should be stopped, detained and basically taken out of the country, not put on the backs of taxpayers to support.”
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, a group of at least 30 people gathered outside the North Bay and District Multicultural Centre for a “Hands Around Diversity” rally in opposition to the yellow vest movement.
“We came out in reaction to finding out that there was a group calling themselves Yellow Vest Canada that had organized rallies across the country today. A group of us looked into their organization, and of course, with the yellow vests protests in France, we were kind of curious about what it was all about,” said Shawn Moreton one of the local organizers.
“We were disappointed to see that part of the reason they were planning protests was some really thinly veiled racist sentiments. So, anti-immigration sentiments protesting against UN compacts on migration. This (rally) is just as a way to express a counterpoint of view and just show that North Bay is a very welcoming city. We didn’t want their message to be a dominant one. We just wanted people to know that there are people here that care, and I think we’re definitely the majority. So, we just decided that we’d organize a rally at the same time here at the Multi-Cultural Centre, just to make a statement in opposition to what they were doing,” said Moreton.
“The problem with saying they’re against illegal immigration is, there is a lot of misinformation about immigration. If you’re seeking asylum, you’re not illegal, and this is the thing. A lot of people fleeing persecution have a legal right under the human rights convention to seek asylum in other nations.”
Sheena Larose held up a sign with the line, “Support Human Rights.”
“I support basic human compassion, and pro-diversity and I’m a little worried that the orange wave is coming into Canada, you know, Trump,” said Larose.
“I want to maintain our countries integrity, of inclusiveness and diversity. Unless you lived here before 1492 when colonialism struck, we are all immigrants. It horrifies me that people would be against accepting someone from another country who is trying to escape war, and poverty and it could happen to any of us.”
Catherine Murton Stoehr citizen said people need to recognize that Canada is a welcoming country.
“We all, unfortunately, know the background to what is happening, is a world rise in fascism, and a rise in racism in places where we thought that was all stomped out,” said Murton Stoehr.
“But also we recognize that there is anti-racism, and welcoming and generosity in this country that is much bigger. And if we start speaking loudly now, we are very capable of stopping the rise of racism and fascism in Canada, and certainly in North Bay.”