I'm Not Anti-Vaxx, But Joining The Freedom Convoy Protest Restored My Canadian Pride

Face It: Technology Is Destroying Your Body Image – Narcity

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Opinion: Beauty is only a Facetune away, but it’s costing us all.
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
I grew up before the rise of the social media influencer. Before facetuning and filters became the norm. But, like most teenage girls, I still had body image issues. Seeing gorgeous women on television, in ads, in magazines, I would still feel like I wasn’t beautiful enough.

And while I’m now happy with my body, I can’t help but wonder how teens feel nowadays.
There’s a book called Uglies by Scott Westerfeld that I often think of. It’s set in a future that, on the surface, looks like a utopia. Resources aren’t scarce and the world seems to get along. Also, up until the age of 16, you’re considered Ugly. For your sweet 16 though, you’re given a surgery that lets you become society’s standard of beautiful, or “Pretty.” Some people reject it, but they’re seen as outcasts, rebels who are brought to “justice” and given the surgery.
Face It: Technology Is Destroying Your Body Image
But that concept has always fascinated me. Growing up knowing that, regardless of how beautiful you actually are, you cannot meet society’s beauty standards. You need to undergo a process that will rub your skin raw to remove scars, alter your face shape, and even surgically adjust your height so you’re not too tall or short. Everyone will be perfect, but you need the assistance of their technology.
There’s no way to grow up in that society feeling good about yourself.
I don’t believe our society is far off from that reality. Not the mandatory surgery at 16, but feeling like you’ll never be pretty enough without the assistance of the people who say you’re not pretty enough.
In school, we were taught about the effects of advertising on our self-image. That ads are trying to sell us a lifestyle, a look that we can attain if we use their product. Follow their diet. Look like what they want us to look like. That was the look my peer group should strive for.
Now though, instead of ads and magazines trying to sell me things, it’s everyday people who are showing me what I’m supposed to look like. Influencers who are being paid to show off products and live a lifestyle. Peers who are using Facetune and filters to alter the slightest imperfection. You don’t need to be good at Photoshop to look flawless these days.
We know that social media, in general, has a negative effect on people’s body image, especially young women. Researchers have studied for years how social media can lead to depression and eating disorders (some of these researchers being from the social media platforms themselves). “Social comparison is worse on Instagram” is a direct quote from Facebook’s own research into teen girl body-image issues.

We’re creating a better version of ourselves. And that better version gets attention, which gives us that addictive dopamine rush, so we do it again. And again. And again. Facetuning becomes an addiction because it gets us the attention online that we crave.

Because of that, it’s getting harder to love ourselves and embrace who we actually are. It’s getting a lot easier to see what we want to become and the flaws we want to remove.
And there’s money to be made in exploiting people’s insecurities.
The global beauty industry is valued at $511 billion. Nearly $16.7 billion was spent on cosmetic procedures in 2020 in the U.S. alone. Lightricks, the developer of Facetune, is valued at $1.8 billion.
Going back to Westerfeld’s world in Uglies, it’s hard to grow up in a world that tells you you’re ugly, but that there is a surgery that will make you beautiful.
But, social media and the age of facetuning aren’t going away.

Or can we accept and acknowledge that what we see online often isn’t real and learn to really love our most authentic selves?
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“Peaceful, helpful, positive Canadians handing out donuts, water and coffee to truckers getting ready to roll out to the capital made some dormant part of my sad inner Canadian cheer up again.”
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
We’re roughly 100 weeks into this pandemic and there seems to be no end in sight for life with restrictions; at least not in Ontario. That is, until a “Freedom Convoy” rolled its way across the country, bringing with it both hope and controversy.
When I heard that a convoy of truckers was making its way to Ottawa from Western Canada to bring their grievances about the vaccine mandate to Parliament Hill, my ears perked up. My first thought was: With these gas prices? Yikes!
It didn’t take long to notice the travelling convoy trending on social media and I quickly assessed whether this had conspiracy nonsense written all over it, or if this was something really important.

As the story developed, I reflected on some of my own grievances: 16 months of lost work due to lockdowns, having two back-to-back “COVID babies,” getting vaccinated under an ultimatum, and declining mental health.
The tag line “we are all in this together” has been plastered on billboards, the windows of businesses, and just about everywhere you can advertise, including the mouths of our politicians. However, it has become very clear that if you don’t meet certain criteria or share the same views as “most Canadians” we are most certainly NOT in this together.
As of September 2021, it became obvious that our prime minister is disgusted by unvaccinated people, and apparently, there are others who agree with him. This blatantly judgmental condemnation of the unvaccinated from one day to the next preceded the medical segregation now being protested in Ottawa.
I'm Not Anti-Vaxx, But Joining The Freedom Convoy Protest Restored My Canadian Pride A Freedom Convoy protest in Vaughan, Ontario, in January.Cassandra Navarrete
I belong to the unlucky fitness industry, which was among the hardest hit. Moreover, I am an independent contractor and therefore have no employment insurance, benefits, or job security. Like many Canadians, I am essentially a one-person small business and my work (as a yoga teacher) was deemed non-essential from day one.
I represent the group of Canadians significantly financially affected by the never-ending pointless lockdowns. I say pointless now that we can see lockdowns made less than 1% difference in mortality rates, according to a Johns Hopkins University meta-analysis of several studies from the first waves of the pandemic.
The CRB just barely covered living expenses and equalled 40-50% of my typical monthly income. Now, add the blessing of a second pregnancy in late 2020 — and only a three-week window to work in between lockdowns to save up for my unpaid maternity leave.
Being reminded over and over again that what I do to earn a living is not essential whittled me down to a state of merely coping rather than living. I have been living in a constant state of financial, mental and emotional stress, and I am aware that I am not unique. The days, weeks and months of lockdowns all feel like a blur, while I desperately try to give my two young children a normal life, hoping they don’t remember this when they’re older.
If there’s one thing I think all Canadians can agree on is that the last two years have been rough. At this point, I know of more people who have lost a battle with mental illness than of those who have succumbed to COVID-19. There is a co-pandemic happening that both our government and the media are not talking about enough.

The media often has a way of distorting the truth and highlighting only what fits the mainstream narrative, and I believe is largely at fault for instigating and perpetuating the already clear divide. I witnessed this firsthand at the protest in Vaughan where thousands of people gathered peacefully to meet the truckers, offer donations, and support.
I'm Not Anti-Vaxx, But Joining The Freedom Convoy Protest Restored My Canadian Pride A Freedom Convoy protest in Vaughan, Ontario, in January.Cassandra Navarrete
In the distance, a group of news reporters pointed cameras at a small group of people near the parking lot (the opposite direction of the masses piled onto the overpass) in what seemed like an effort to downplay the turnout.
After attending the protest in Vaughan, I noticed that more Instagram stories, news articles and the televised media are portraying the freedom convoy as part of “the fringe” anti-vaxxers, and now as racist extremists that are just here to clog up Ottawa for reasons not good enough for the general public.
Having connected firsthand with people at the rally, and been so deeply affected by the mandates myself, these truckers and growing masses of supporters are not what you’re calling them. Some of them may be anti-vaxx as well as anti-mandate, but what’s it to you, anyhow?
I'm Not Anti-Vaxx, But Joining The Freedom Convoy Protest Restored My Canadian Pride A Freedom Convoy protest in Vaughan, Ontario, in January.Cassandra Navarrete
My vaccine failed to prevent me from contracting COVID-19 after being exposed to another vaccinated COVID-positive person. My vaccine also failed to prevent me from asymptomatically spreading the virus to my vaccinated friends over the holidays. On the bright side, we may now have natural immunity, which apparently doesn’t count.
These truckers did not come from every corner of Canada (with these gas prices) for nothing. These truckers and their supporters you hate are fed up with a nonsensical mandate that is preventing them from feeding their families, so they’re going to places where they can be heard loud and clear.
From what I observed, this convoy is a mixed group of hard-working, lawful, tax-paying Canadians, forced into action by having to choose between making a medical choice they’d rather not make and putting food on their table.
You better believe I bundled up my kids and called my parents, brothers and friends to show up. Coming out to support, shout, walk, and connect with other Canadians was one of the best things I’ve done to support my own mental health, and an incredible remedy for the low morale, negativity, and diminished faith I’ve been sitting in for months on end.
I'm Not Anti-Vaxx, But Joining The Freedom Convoy Protest Restored My Canadian Pride A Freedom Convoy protest in Vaughan, Ontario, in January.Cassandra Navarrete
Peaceful, helpful, positive Canadians handing out donuts, water and coffee to truckers getting ready to roll out to the capital made some dormant part of my sad inner Canadian cheer up again. That was reason enough to go.
I also hope to make a difference for my friend — a pregnant woman who was fired for choosing not to risk an adverse reaction from the vaccine, despite providing medical notes, and was offered no accommodations even after 10 years of service.
I'm Not Anti-Vaxx, But Joining The Freedom Convoy Protest Restored My Canadian Pride A Freedom Convoy protest in Vaughan, Ontario, in January.Cassandra Navarrete
I hope the truckers will make a difference for the overworked nurses, doctors and paramedics who could not miss work, even if they wanted to.
For the thousands of Canadians unable to move in, out and through our country freely, and who are faced with unemployment, mistreatment and disrespect due to a medical choice.
To be perfectly clear — I am NOT anti-vaxx. I belong to the group of people who got vaccinated under the pressure to not lose my job. I am, however, absolutely anti-mandate.
A huge number of people who are out there supporting the truckers are likely double or maybe even triple vaxxed, and are still calling out our government on absurd and unconstitutional measures that are destroying businesses all over the country.
They are unnecessarily locking down select industries that have gone above and beyond to make their spaces safe. To what point does our government want us to sacrifice ourselves for this 1% mortality rate?
I'm Not Anti-Vaxx, But Joining The Freedom Convoy Protest Restored My Canadian Pride A Freedom Convoy protest in Vaughan, Ontario, in January.Cassandra Navarrete
It is not our responsibility to make up for our government’s shortcomings in dealing with this pandemic. I believe we’re in desperate need of better mitigation efforts, but medical segregation cannot be one of them.
I don’t have the answers, but I believe we can protect the vulnerable without forcing employers to terminate perfectly healthy, competent, experienced professionals over a personal, and what should be confidential, medical choice.
If you want “double, triple, quadruple” protection against COVID-19, I believe you can (and should) keep getting jabbed over and over again if you want to. For those who prefer to forgo the extra protection, I say respectfully, please mind your own business. I believe that ALL Canadians, vaccinated and unvaccinated, are essential. The freedom convoy represents just that.
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
Opinion: 50,000 strong is just 50,000 wrong.
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Last weekend, a so-called “Freedom Convoy” of truckers flooded the streets of Ottawa with a mandate of fighting for all Canadians’ freedoms. Claiming to be 50,000-strong, the truckers and their supporters have been adamant in proclaiming they are not a “fringe minority,” as characterized by Prime Minister Trudeau.
Was it a political misstep on the part of the PM to antagonize them? Maybe. Regardless, they did show up in numbers large enough to make a disruptive impact on the city.
Their main gripe against the government has to do with COVID vaccine mandates and public health measures, which also include lockdowns, social distancing measures and the wearing of masks indoors.

According to the “Memorandum of Understanding” created by the organizers of the protest, Canada Unity, what they want is:
If you look at everything this “Freedom Convoy” has brought to Ottawa, you will find a tower of contradictions, straw man arguments, and false equivalencies. Pulling out any to expose their weak arguments topples the whole thing like pieces in a game of Jenga.

First off, let’s start with facts. Whether there actually were 50,000 pissed-off truckers with an axe to grind over vaccine mandates or not, the population of Canada stands at just over 38 million people according to StatCan’s 2021 estimates. Considering the nation’s vaccination rate currently sits at 78.8%, the PM wasn’t wrong when he called them a “fringe minority.” This is less than 1% of the population “fighting for freedoms” the other over 99% never asked them to fight for. In fact, neither did the 90% of Canadian truckers who are vaccinated.
It’s a fact that the Government of Canada cannot arbitrarily dictate to the U.S. government who they choose to let into their country. On January 20, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security reiterated that as of January 22, all non-citizens travelling across the border for essential or non-essential purposes must have evidence of being fully vaccinated.
Are the unvaccinated participants of the convoy suggesting that we go to war with the neighbouring country they are upset about not being allowed to drive into unvaccinated? I don’t often use the word “dumb” to describe the opinions of people I don’t agree with, but sometimes, it just applies.

Over the weekend, photos of protesters with Confederate and Nazi flags were captured and shared online. The Confederate flag harkens back to the Southern Confederacy, the side in the American Civil War that fought for the right to continue enslaving Black folks in the U.S. The Nazi flag bearing the swastika harkens back to, well, the Nazis.

In case you missed it, the Nazis murdered millions of Jewish people, Roma people, members of LGBTQ2S+ communities, people with disabilities, artists, intellectuals, and more, over a pseudo-scientific theory of racial and genetic Aryan purity.
Hate crime much? The contradictory nature of touting freedom for all, under banners that literally refer to a time of state-sanctioned enslavement for one group of people and the genocide of another, is impossible to ignore. Unless of course, you happened to be a member of the “Freedom Convoy,” who apparently went the extra mile to ignore it, as pointed out by local brewery Shillow Beer Co.
In another attempt to put Canadian “freedoms” front and centre, protesters defaced the monument of a Canadian icon, Terry Fox. Fox was a charitable humanitarian who ran across the country to raise money for cancer research and died trying to give others hope. He was not the architect of residential schooling, nor did he preside over the intentional starvation of First Nations people in Canada.
That said, it’s been suggested by supporters of the protest, including Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen, that there’s no difference between the defacement of monuments to Queen Victoria or Sir John A. MacDonald during previous BLM or Indigenous rights protests. However, Bergen’s support for the convoy remained unwavering.
Freedom should start with the least of us, no? The marginalized in our society struggle a little more for equity than the rest of us. Would the hungry, poor, or homeless not qualify as Canadians worthy of freedom? If so, does raiding soup kitchens and taking food out of the mouths of people living on the margins of our society amount to fighting for Canadian freedoms? Members of the Freedom Convoy, who represent a sliver of a fraction of our country, seem to think their freedoms rise above everyone else’s.
Aside from requesting an end to COVID-19 mandates in their manifesto, the protesters also advocate for the replacement of government with a citizens council, effectively bringing down any idea of democracy as we know it. When paired with fascist Nazi symbolism, relics of slavery and a general mob mentality of “what’s yours is mine,” this becomes the most chilling aspect of the protest for me.
If this was truly just about a group of citizens being sick of vaccine mandates, I might have more empathy toward them. The truth is, we’re all tired of COVID and all want to go back to life before the Black Mirror episode we all ended up living through.
However, you cannot argue on the side of freedom for all while advocating for the overthrow of a democratically elected government. You cannot tell me you represent the will of a majority when you aren’t even close to a majority.
It’s impossible to infringe on the lives and liberties of Ottawa’s citizens, including its most at-risk members, while flying the flags of the most reprehensible movements and regimes in human history.
For that, I call bullshit on the “Freedom Convoy” and its organizers. It was never about fighting for the freedoms of all Canadians. Just the freedoms of those who they deem worthy.
And who do they deem worthy?
Only themselves.

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Because every villain has an origin story.
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
For the last several years, we’ve stood by and watched as music mogul and fashion impresario Kanye West has slowly morphed into a comic book supervillain. From his humble beginnings on his first album “The College Dropout” leading all the way up to his current manifestation as “whatever the hell he wants to be this week,” Kanye’s story arc is nothing short of a supervillain origin story. He could be a character straight out of the Marvel or DC universe.
Ridiculous, you say? Let’s go back to his formative years as a budding hip-hop producer whose talent eventually attracts the attention of rap deity Jay-Z, a super-powered mentor and brother-like figure to him. Obi-wan to Kanye’s Anakin before his ego turned him to the dark side.
After producing music for another Jay-Z protege at the time (Beanie Sigel), Jay-Z recognized Ye’s talent and scooped him up for his next album, the 2001 classic “The Blueprint.” That led to more production duties at Jay-Z’s old imprint Roc-a-Fella records and eventually Kanye’s own hit album, “College Dropout.”
In 2011, the brotherhood spun out into the collaborative studio album “Watch The Throne,” a masterpiece project that helped cement their status as not just hip-hop but pop music royalty. After that, the rest is history.
They say power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Underneath the brilliance of an up-and-coming superstar entertainer was an egomaniac that knew no boundaries.
Who can forget the 2009 MTV VMAs when Kanye highjacked Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for “Video of the Year” in what can only be described as an invasion. Stunned, Swift was powerless to stop the overblown ego of a man who obviously believed he answered to no one. He has the delusional confidence of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker doing a great set at a comedy club, while totally unaware that the “joke” in question is actually him.
Enter Kim Kardashian, the most famous member of a family of shapeshifters with the ability to turn celebrity into satire and TV into “reality.” Kanye marries Kim and adds another trophy (wife) to his case. That should have been the perfect rags to riches story where the underdog we’ve all been rooting for lives out his wildest dreams. Instead, it’s where he truly begins to fragment into different personalities — marrying into this secret society hiding in plain sight while hiding from the 24-hour cycle of television cameras there to film them.
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No sooner than Kanye’s star begins to rise does the world witness his humility turn to hubris. With things already strained between Jay and Kanye after the Taylor Swift incident, Jay and Bey being no-shows at Kim and Kanye’s Big Fat Italian wedding didn’t help. Following a robbery in Paris in 2016 where Kim Kardashian was tied up and robbed while Kanye was on stage, Kanye claimed Jay-Z didn’t reach out. And he did so while on stage, too.
It seems even Jay-Z had to take a couple of steps all the way back from this guy.
If it stopped there, you could probably say, “Hey, everyone has a bad day or two.” Of course, we all know it didn’t stop there. In 2013, the host of popular SiriusXM podcast “Sway in The Morning”, Sway Calloway, couldn’t sway Kanye from unleashing a furious tantrum. In the now-legendary rant, he likened himself to Warhol and Shakespeare, verbally assaulted numerous players in the fashion world and, in an odd twist, Disney, for not investing in his ideas. Oh, and he also called himself “the number one most impactful artist of our generation.” His words, not mine.
This is every villain story where the bad guy starts out feeling under-appreciated and decides to seek vengeance on all who refused to recognize their brilliance. What followed: Kanye in a screaming match at TMZ, Kanye yelling at Chance The Rapper at an album listening party, and Kanye having on again, off again beef with Drake.
Look, I’ve got a word count to meet and this could go on for a while, so maybe just Google the rest.
When he’s not rambling on about his status as the greatest (insert anything) of all time, he’s occasionally found time for relationships.
Descending further into villainy, he eventually lends his support to IRL Batman villain Bane. I mean Donald Trump, of course — which makes sense, considering either’s track record of strange Twitter rants.
At this point, Kanye becomes too much for even his fake-real trophy wife, who leaves Kanye for tatted SNL superhero Pete Davidson. In response, Kanye immediately places unsuspecting (maybe a little suspecting) actress/model Julia Fox under his spell.
Fox, his new muse, has now become a living doll that he can apparently dress up as his own personal plaything. Julia Fox announced their relationship with a black heart emoji on her Instagram story on January 24, dubbing their unholy coupling “Juliye.”

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If you need any more evidence than evil alliances, egomaniacal delusions of grandeur, and explosive outbursts on friends and enemies alike to convince you Kanye has fully evolved into a supervillain, look no further than Juliye’s matching outfits. Head-to-toe black leather, smoky eyes, and Kanye’s accessorizing with various styles of masks. I could see “Jean-yus”, which happens to be the name of his upcoming Netflix documentary, being the perfect supervillain moniker. How could you look at all of that evil power couple vibing and not at least be concerned they might poison the city’s water supply?

It’s important to note as part of all of this that Kanye has been pretty public about his struggles with mental health, and I’m certainly not attempting to devalue those experiences — far from it. Between tragically losing his mother and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it’s imperative to have some empathy for the guy.
However, it’s also fair to note that Kanye West isn’t someone without the resources to manage his challenges — not everyone who has lost someone they love or has struggled with their mental health has been given the leeway to treat others as badly as he has been caught on record doing many times.
According to 2017 information from Our World in Data, an estimated 792 million people around the world were living with mental illness — and that was before we were hit with COVID-19. However, unlike many of these people, Kanye has the privilege of money and fame to allow him to seek the support he may need in order to live his life with dignity intact.
If he can stop playing the villain long enough to pay attention, he has the power to write his own ending.