Andrew Duffy

Ottawa Citizen Feb 05, 2022  •  43 minutes ago  •  3 minute read

File: Anti vaccine mandate protests continuing in downtown Ottawa
File: Anti vaccine mandate protests continuing in downtown Ottawa PHOTO BY ERROL MCGIHON /Postmedia

Truckers occupying downtown Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates have moved quickly to secure a new funding source after the popular GoFundMe platform closed off access to $10 million in donations.

The truckers have adopted GiveSendGo as their new fundraising platform. The organization bills itself as the leader in Christian fundraising.

On the new platform, the truckers had already raised close to $900,000 towards a $16 million goal by late Saturday morning.

GiveSendGo was having trouble handling the sudden traffic on its website, which often displayed a server error Saturday. “We know the site is slow,” the company said on social media. “We are working on it! All hands on deck.”

Donations were coming in fast. The site listed $911,000 in contributions by late Saturday morning.

In a video on the GiveSendGo website, Tamara Lich, a key organizer of the truckers’ protest, said GoFundMe has frozen the bulk of its funds after releasing $1 million.

Lich said the truckers have decided to team with GiveSendGo “which will enable us to get donations into the hands of the truckers much, much quicker while everyone gets the rest of this stuff sorted out.”

“We plan to be here for the long haul – as long as it takes to ensure that that your rights and freedoms are restored,” Lich said in a statement recorded Friday in downtown Ottawa.

According to the website, the donations will be used to offset the costs of fuel, food and lodgings.

Freedom Convoy 2022 protesters demonstrate near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on January 31, 2022.
Freedom Convoy 2022 protesters demonstrate near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on January 31, 2022. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS

On Friday, GoFundMe announced the convoy would be cut off from $10 million raised to support the truckers because the money was going towards “the promotion of violence and harassment” in contravention of its terms of service.

The California-based initially said contributions would be given back to donors who applied for a refund, and that unclaimed monies would be sent to charities verified by GoFundMe.

But following a barrage of complaints from angry donors, the crowdsourcing company changed direction. On Saturday morning, it said all contributions will be automatically refunded directly to donors within seven to 10 business days.

“Donors do not need to submit a request,” GoFundMe said in a statement

It means the new support fund for truckers could quickly see a large influx of money.

Ottawa police and politicians had welcomed the news of GoFundMe’s decision, believing it would cut off a critical source of support.

Ottawa Police Services Chief Peter Sloly has repeatedly said the truckers’ protest is unusual not least because of its extraordinary funding levels.

The Ottawa police, in a statement on social media, thanked GoFundMe for its actions: “We want to thank GoFundMe for listening to our concerns as a city and a police service. The decision to withhold funding for these unlawful demonstrations is an important step and we call on all crowdfunding sites to follow.”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson also thanked GoFundMe for its stand and implored other fundraising platforms to do the same. Enabling the truckers’ fundraising efforts, he said, would “deal a blow to our efforts to put an end to this occupation.

“These protesters have been holding our city hostage for a week now, and I’m hopeful that limiting their access to funding and resources will restrict their ability to remain in Ottawa.”

The Freedom Convoy’s GiveSendGo campaign reportedly garnered more than $90,000 immediately after its Friday launch, and activity is so hot on their page that the website appears to be having server issues

HERE IS THE GIVESENDGO CAMPAIGN FOR THE FREEDOM CONVOY. 

GiveSendGo is an explicitly Christian fundraising engine. The Freedom Convoy’s GiveSendGo page states:

“To our Fellow Canadians, the time for political over reach is over. Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods.”

————-

MORE COVERAGE OF THE TRUCKER PROTEST:

Truck convoy: Residents, police brace as protest numbers expected to swell

Counter protest to take to the streets this weekend

Ottawa police expecting more trucks, protesters and counter-protesters over the weekend

UPDATED Trucker convoy: Cities across Canada mobilize as anti-mandate protests spread

NCC deciding what to do about protest spread, and kitchen shack, around Confederation Park

‘An occupation’: GoFundMe pulls plug on fundraiser for convoy protesters

‘We have to pay rent’: Downtown businesses brace for another weekend of protest pandemonium

Answers to your most common questions on the Ottawa truck protest