• 2023
  • Feb
  • 15

Innocence Lost

Wednesday February 15, 2023

By Kristen Nagle

I had been back home in London, Ontario for nearly a week, after spending four weeks in Ottawa during the Convoy. Life at home was the same as when I left it, but I wasn’t the same. We were going about our usual routine, including taking my boys to our favourite local coffee shop where we have been going for years. A place our local police force often frequents as well.

As I waited in line I found myself beside one of our London Special Forces officers. Seeing his grey uniform with all the gadgets, my heart started racing. I became almost paralyzed, and tears ran down my face. I was shocked by my own response; I had been visiting this coffee shop for years and was used to seeing many different types of officers in the cafe. The officer also appeared surprised and I managed to muster, “I’m sorry for my reaction… I’ve just arrived home from Ottawa.”
  “Oh, were you at the convoy?”
  “Yes, for four weeks, and I was on the front lines for the last two days.”
  “I’m sorry that happened to you - I want you to know many of us did not want to be there, and many refused to go.”

I could see the sincerity in his response and his heartfelt apology, and it was at this moment that I realized that the traumatic events I had been a part of still lingered inside me.

January 27th, 2022. The day I first rolled out with the South Convoy from London ON, not realizing that my life would be forever changed. I wasn’t sure what my role was going to be, what I was going to do; I just knew I had to be there. In that moment I thought I was just going for the weekend. I didn’t know I’d be staying for the entirety of the convoy and have such a big role in documenting the truth of what really occurred.

The convoy was a highlight of my life, of what it meant to be Canadian. I have never felt so much love, peace, and acceptance - true fellowship and community. These are the memories I cherish and hold onto when I think of the convoy, the lessons it taught me, and how we are to actually move forward in this battle.

Unfortunately this is not how the convoy ended, and a year later I still have a hard time articulating those dark days.

The police had a substantial presence throughout the convoy; they come from all over Ontario. They smiled, laughed, conversed with us, even shook our hands. As the convoy continued their attitude began to change. The smiles stopped, the conversations ceased, and the kind gestures were hard to come by. I noticed this change when they were told to start seizing all jerry cans. I had my own face-to-face encounter with a male officer during one of these raids as the cops peacocked their status and confiscated jerry cans in the back of a pickup truck. This office came directly into my space, trying to intimidate me with his presence, claiming he was protecting me. He was not. It was a poor attempt to exert authority over me. Unfortunately for him it backfired as I would not back down nor move and stood straight, looking him in the eyes, my voice unwavering until finally his colleagues had to pull him away before carrying on to the next jerry can raid.

It was at this moment that I knew things had changed, but I was still in denial as to how much.

February 14. My dad had sent a large bouquet of roses to our hotel room to be handed out for Valentine’s Day. The truckers had received so much love throughout the entire day that I thought it might be nice to give the roses to the officers. February 14th was also the day the Emergencies Act was invoked, and we thought this gesture of kindness and love might remind some of the officers of their role to uphold the peace, and that we were all Canadians and here for a reason. Some of the offices were thrilled and so thankful, accepting the roses with a smile. Others refused, and some didn’t even acknowledge us, keeping their vehicle windows rolled up. Some of those who refused looked conflicted, unsure how it might reflect on them should they accept a rose.

Days went on, and we were all on edge wondering what was going to happen next. We knew we just had to make it to the weekend! That’s when everyone would show up, and if we could make it to the weekend we’d be okay. Boy, were we wrong.

February 18, 10am. I was doing my usual rounds, starting on my morning route, all seemed okay. Many of the trucks had left the side streets and filled in on Wellington Street. In retrospect, it seems that this might have been the city’s attempt to kettle us. As I was doing one of my daily livestreams, people were writing in, “Austin needs your help!” They told me where to go and I began running down Wellington Street, arriving at Rideau. Here was a line of officers with what appeared to be a tank, military-looking me, rifles, a large speaker, trucks, and so on. My heart stopped. It was this moment when all my innocent faith in Canada was lost. I had seen this happen in other countries but I still wouldn’t accept it could happen in Canada. I was naive.

We formed a line, joined arms, and at one point we all sat down. We thought, ‘We are going to hold this line! Stand strong!’ One of the officers tried to plead with us, stating they weren’t here to arrest anyone. This was all about the trucks, they just had to move the trucks, once the trucks were gone we could go back to what we were here to do - protesting. The speaker was loud and on repeat, telling us to move back. Prayers were said, O Canada was sang, and tears were flowing. Is this really happening? Is this really how it’s going to end? Austin pleaded with me, telling me he didn’t want to see me get arrested, my boys needed me. I had never felt so conflicted - wanting to stand my ground, but also wanting to be there for my boys. Austin gave me the biggest hug and told me I should go. I remember stepping back, but everyone eventually started to step back as the officers began to advance. We had been pouring our hearts out to them for what seemed like forever.

There was a yellow truck, I’ll never forget - this man yelled out his window, “Don’t leave me!” as we began to slowly step back. As soon as we were behind his truck officers smashed through his window and forcefully removed him from his truck. I felt sick. These truckers had been here for weeks, holding the line for us, standing up for us, and in this moment we had let them down. It was then I knew I couldn’t leave - I had to stand strong and remain in the line. I wouldn’t abandon another trucker.

Filmed by Kristen Nagle on February 18, 2022. Click here to see more…

It wasn’t until we were forced back a little further that we realized we were surrounded. Hundreds of officers were everywhere, including the infamous Quebec Riot cops in the green suits. The rifles, the tanks, the military-looking personnel - it was all incredibly intimidating. I found myself with several veterans that were trying to protect us, holding the line as best they could, tears streaming down their eyes. We were on a path, sandwiched between railings. I remember pleading with the officers, reading their oath, sharing my story, trying to get to their hearts. Eventually they began to move again, and this time with force. They pushed through the veterans and pushed us hard - so hard that they were pushing us into concrete pillars with nowhere to go. One officer screamed directly in my face, and the intensity of hatred in his eyes pierced my soul as he shoved me to the ground. Seeing the look in his eyes made me the most frightened I had ever been - I knew he meant me harm. Fellow patriots quickly pulled me back to my feet and over the railing.

We stood in the cold together for hours, doing our best to remain strong. I witnessed Danny Bulford turn himself in, more tears. I filmed the officers’ eyes, saying I wanted the world to look into the eyes of the men and women that were on the wrong side of history that day.

Eventually they sent in the horses, twice, to break up the crowd, trampling over people without concern. Those huge beautiful animals, being used for such cruelty. I couldn’t what I was seeing.

I stood in the freezing cold, until morning turned into night. People were handing out hand warmers, foot warmers, snacks, and words of encouragement. I went through four battery packs trying to stream as much as I could. Until I knew it was time to call it a night. The police weren’t going to gain any more ground that evening, and there was nothing left for us to do but sleep and see what tomorrow would bring.

I managed to make my way back to the hotel room and curled up in the safety of my husband’s arms and my boys’ sweet innocence.

February 19, about 10AM again at the stage on Wellington Street. This time I knew a little more about what to expect and the cruelty of these officers. Tear gas was launched, hitting Rebel News reporter Alexa in the leg directly beside me. Her screams of agony forever piercing my memory, as I and others tried to help and comfort her. The screams of people being pepper sprayed, the looks of terror, defeat, and utter sadness were all too much to bear. But we did bear it. We continued to stand strong, against the batons being used to beat us, against their anger and violent threats.

We continued to remain peaceful, loving, kind. Supporting one another as best we could. It was a time of camaraderie like I have never seen before. People even offering the officers a handshake, flowers, some still shoveling the snow, a woman even walking the line with a Tim Hortons box offering coffee to both sides. This was the heart of Canada; peaceful right until the bitter end. Our hearts and spirits would not be broken, that was something they could not take from us.

In the final moments, in the last area they forced us into, DJ Freedom brought in a speaker and a dance party broke out. This dance party went on for a couple hours and it was incredible! The smiles, laughter and joy people still felt was so inspiring. Until the rubber bullets came flying, the tear gas was deployed, and the people were pepper-sprayed. These were the final moments late in the evening that ended the convoy. Hours of being in the cold, the emotional rollercoasters, and streaming live all day had left me exhausted.

People slowly trickled back to where they were staying and left the streets. The next day was a police occupation, and downtown was now considered the red zone. Our ‘freedom hotel’ was being deserted. It felt eerie and dark.

After spending two full days in the hotel room unable to leave or go anywhere it was time for my family to leave. As we were walking to our truck, someone from a sixth floor apartment threw eggs at my young family while yelling obscenities. We approached three different officers for help, but all were too busy monitoring the now police state to do anything about it. More tears. What has become of this country?

I stayed in Ottawa for a few days to process what had just happened, what I experienced, and to get closure. I wasn’t ready to leave. I needed to feel at peace with everything. It would be five days until I felt ready to go home. It would be even longer until I could finally process everything I had experienced and release it. This would come in June on a 40km march with James Topp - a huge emotional release through the physical pain of marching all day. It would be joining James Topp’s journey that would finally pull me out of the trauma I was holding onto.

When I offered to write an article on this topic, I thought it would be no problem. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to try to recount those dark days. Moments I think I disassociated from. But even in those darkest moments, what I will never forget is the strength of Canadians, God’s hand over everyone, and how peaceful we all remained. We showed the world pure love, and how to fight evil with love. This is what I hold onto and remember. The power of God’s grace and mercy: that even in these dark moments where it seemed like all had failed, we overcame it and we still came out on top. These are the lessons I have taken to my heart and hold close. To fight with love and not lower ourselves to our enemies’ levels, but to rise above, and in those moments every Canadian rose above! It might not have looked the way we thought it would, but we were all victorious on that day. This is what we need to remember as we move forward and create new.

Hope is never lost, the victory has been won.

A dedicated nurse of 14 years, primarily in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Kristen Nagle has taken on a new role of activism and Health Care advocacy, after being terminated from her position as a RN for speaking up against the narrative. She is the cofounder of Canadian Frontline Nurses whose mission is to advocate for medical freedom, unite nurses, educate the public and bring ethics back into healthcare.

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