The past month has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone living in Ottawa – especially for those living in the downtown core. Due to the occupation, members of our community were harassed because of their skin colour, yelled at for wearing masks, subject to torturous honking as well as hurtful and racist symbols, and there were accounts of assault.
It had been made clear that there were serious challenges to local enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law. That is why the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act to give police more tools to end the occupation and blockades. Additionally, it designated, secured and protected critical places and infrastructure, ensured essential services are rendered, prohibited use of property to support illegal blockades and allowed the RCMP to enforce municipal bylaws and provincial offences when required.
Businesses also suffered greatly, with further closures and harassment due to the protests. That is why the federal government announced an investment of up to $20 million to help downtown Ottawa businesses recover from the impacts of these unlawful protests so they can continue serving our community.
What we went through as a community was traumatic, and our mental health has been impacted. My message to you is that this is a time of healing and hope. It’s okay to not be okay, and I would encourage you to stay connected to members of our community, friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances. If you or someone you know wants to speak with a mental health professional or is seeking mental health resources, here are a few in Ottawa ready to help:
- Centretown Community Health Centre: 613-233-4443
- Somerset West Community Health Centre: 613-238-8210
- Ottawa Distress Centre: 613-238-3311
- Ottawa Crisis Line: 613-722-6914
- Life Works Crisis Line: 1-844-751-2133
- Counselling Connect (free phone or video counselling): www.counselingconnect.org
Throughout this unlawful occupation, we saw yet again how resilient our community is. How we all came together during this incredibly difficult time to support one another. We will have to continue to support each other as we heal and work towards a hopeful future.
If there is anything I can do to support you, my office remains open virtually and ready to help. You can call us at 613-946-8682 or email Yasir.Naqvi@parl.gc.ca.