Anti-lockdown protesters demonstrate in Barry’s Bay

News of an anti-mask, anti-lockdown protest in Barry’s Bay erupted on local social media accounts on Sunday February 7 at a time when residents were still under a provincewide stay-at-home order. One of the original Facebook posts (now deleted) reported that the maskless demonstrators were inviting passersby to hug them. Other commenters pointed out they did not all maintain the requisite physical distancing. After reading the comments local realtor Pat Scott drove into town to see for herself. She had been told that a number of Seat of Wisdom College (SWC) students were at the rally waving placards and bothering people walking. She herself recognized some as being SWC students and captured photos of the gathering on her phone.

She then contacted SWC Acting President Dr. Christine Schintgen offering to share the photos with her and asking for comment from the College about the event. Schintgen replied promptly, thanking Scott and saying, “At Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College we do our best to enforce all the COVID-19 protocols on campus. We also strongly encourage our students to obey all civil laws and protocols while off-campus. However, our students are adults and we cannot take responsibility for their choices and actions off campus. That is up to the civil authorities. I have no problem with you sharing your photos with the media.”

Valley resident Maureen MacMillan told The Current she happened to be shopping at the Barry’s Bay Metro and her interest was piqued by a bunch of teenagers walking by the store with signs. She later saw up to about 15 people at the three-way stop holding placards with anti-lockdown/anti-mask sentiments. She said, “It got me a bit riled up to see this in our small town. We have been so lucky to not have COVID cases here and many of us don’t know anyone personally who has died so it’s easy to get tired, frustrated and complacent. That being said, the beauty of our small towns are that we look out for each other to ensure we have each other’s backs. The lockdown AND mask wearing are for the common good. I’m sure the one thing we can agree on is that we are universally tired of this pandemic, but we don’t need this kind of divisive sentiment in our small town.”

When contacted by The Current, Renfrew County and District Health Unit, OPP Killaloe Detachment and the Township of Madawaska Valley all confirmed that they had not received advance notice of the event. At the time of publication, The Current has not received any indication of what, if any, steps are being taken by the appropriate authorities.

Editor’s note: The Current is grateful to multiple sources who have submitted photos and contributed to this report.

Notice to our readers: Due to the volume of comments so far and the fact that many have been submitted anonymously or with invalid email addresses, no further comments on this article will be published. Thank you.

24 Comments

  1. C.N.Due

    I am more upset that Pat did not follow the stay at home order and left the house to go see the protest? From the pictures she was actually out of the car talking to these people!! How is this an essential trip? Young adults follow our example, if we can leave for stuff like this than how are they supposed to know any better

  2. Lee La Font

    Of all the things in this world to protest against. Are you guys so repressed, so desperate for self expression. Go get your rocks off against poverty, hunger, racism. This kind of expression is not harmless; I’m old and it endangers my health. The Catholic Church cannot control these young adults but it certainly can advise and censure them!

  3. Vlad Lenin

    This is disgusting, these kids should be in the proper containment facilities going through reeducation right now.
    to many countries have let freedom take over and it’s a mess. society can only work if a small group of people control every action of all the others…disappointed

  4. Tim Storey

    These anti maskers are piggybacking on the efforts of the mask wearing , compliant majority, which have demonstrably proven that masks and following guidelines reduce transmission .. you just have to look at the lack of common cold and seasonal flu to see that..
    Our daughter is working on the front lines in an inner city hospital helping those Covid patients who have survived intubation learn to breath on their own again…. Do you want to be one of these poor souls?
    The less people wear masks the more that increases the transmission of Covid that then increases the pressure on our overworked healthcare system..
    Please don’t roll the dice on this virus ..it may be small and invisible but that does not make it any less dangerous.
    WEAR A MASK!

  5. Michael John McCloskey

    Whenever I see something infuriating, like this, I try to put it into a more positive context. So here goes:
    Things like this CAN happen here. Sometimes we think that public exhibitions of poor fellowship and willful ignorance are limited to places ending in “-ippi” or “-bama” Sadly it’s not and they are here among us.
    Those of us experiencing “covid compliance fatigue” have been jolted awake from our auto-pilot. The comments here indicate their presence only serves to reinforce in the rest of us the resolve to keep doing the right thing.
    Now although these people are here- there aren’t a lot of them. I wasn’t there but from the pictures it looks like there were not enough people to have two euchre games. It is comforting to know that their inflated presence on social media dwindles remarkably in real life.
    Maybe the “Wisdom” part of OLSW college are upper year courses. Let’s hope so because that is where students can learn about the integral role Catholic scholars and lay people have had in the history of science. People like Father Theodoric Borgognoni (1205-1298) who made important contributions to antiseptic practice (probably would have worn a mask) and Fr Jean Baptiste Carnoy (1836-1899) who is called the Founder of the Science of Cytology (probably would say “follow the science mes eleves!” through his mask).

  6. JUDY COLE

    I am so grateful for your interest in what has been happening. I am so upset. I remember when the Academy was advertising for someone to work in Administration they were wanting someone with the same moral, values etc. for what the organization stood for. I guess we are seeing what they really stand for. We don’t need that kind of people here. Where are our police and provincial protection? Thanks Maureen.

  7. Barb Schaefer

    Come on. Nothing to do, no place to go, let’s have a mini- protest! Let us remember folks that the young adult brain is not finished growing yet. Does not justify endangering the community though. Just some thoughts.

    facebook/Feb.9

  8. Jenny Baklinski

    I am grateful that the acting president supported of the posting of the photos! To me that is a good step, I think acknowledging the independence of their students that subjects them to laws, and criticisms, and I appreciate her statement towards being transparent about COVID protocols.
    I also think it’s a good reminder how in a small town how we act can either build bridges or walls. The actions of the protesters definitely put up some walls as can be seen in the comments here, and I also see bridges build towards transparency, accountability.

    facebook/Feb.9

  9. Pat Nighbor

    In reply to Mandy Kutchcoskie

    Following the health advice of our experts is why we are moving back to the green zone and people in Toronto , Hamilton , areas protesting and not following health restrictions are still in lockdown.

    facebook/Feb.9

    • Joe Wilson

      Actually I live in Toronto and everyone here is following the restrictions and it hasn’t changed a thing. The situation here was best when everything was open and masks weren’t mandatory

  10. Mandy Kutchkoskie

    Socialism is here, communism is coming. Big high five to these guys that took the time to take a stand in the Bay yesterday!! #freedomoverfear #peacefulprotest #unmaskthetruth

    facebook/Feb.9

  11. Emma Schaefer

    Whose safety were they putting in jeopardy if they were outside and “socially distanced”? It’s not as though they were giving old folks mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after testing positive for COVID-19. They were just a group of young people exercising their rights by holding signs on a street corner. Good for them. Nice to see some young people finally standing up against the absurdity of COVID restrictions.
    Oh, and statistically speaking, the chances of you killing someone with your car on the way to metro that day were a thousand times higher than any of those “kids” killing someone by passing along COVID from the street corner. Food for thought.
    The only “danger” they were inflicting on the community was an affront to people’s delicate sensibilities.

  12. Melissa McCaig

    Getting very sick of the college not taking ownership of their students. The OPP need to fine these individuals and make an example out of them. The college should also expel them . There’s been plenty of college and universities taking action against students who don’t follow the rules by expelling them. What will happen if one of these kids gets covid and starts spreading it around the community? I doubt they would quarantine and I know a lot of the parents who send their kids to the academy are telling their kids to not wear masks because Jesus didn’t.

  13. Dave Maher

    I, a first hand, witness, saw 75-80% approval rate for this anti-lockdown protest. Honks and smiles all over the place… a sign of our humananity coming back to life. Additionally, this was not a college affiliated protest as this article pins it out to be. I saw locals and folks from out of town there fighting for their rights.

  14. Jim Mask

    Freedom of speech and the right to protest are important values to uphold. These students exercised these privileges and there is nothing wrong with that. Impossible that they could’ve infected any passerbys with Covid: those germs have no chance of surviving in the cold for even a second. Maybe The Current should’ve interviewed a protester; any journalist worth his own knickers presents both sides of the coin.

  15. Kenton E. Biffert

    There is a quote from the acting President of the college when this wasn’t a college event. And there is a quote from a passer-by. Why is there no comment from the protesters? Did anyone actually talk to the protesters to get their perspective? I heard there were people there from Killaloe and families as well. Why does this article only mention students from SWC? Most of the folk in the pictures posted are not students at the college. If ‘fake news’ is defined as news that only reports one side of the story … well, I’m disappointed in the Current to say the least.

  16. Gabriel O'Brien

    I was the one interviewed by the reporter yesterday at the anti-lockdown protest. Aside from one person, there was zero indication given that anyone present was affiliated with Seat of Wisdom College. It is interesting to see how this article neglects to mention the positive reinforcement given by passersby at yesterday’s demonstration.

  17. Sylvia Burchat

    There was another woman who had originally posted in the Killaloe community board about a protest. She alluded to a protest without saying exactly what it was. I don’t know if she’s affiliated with the College but her profile states she is a PSW. I sincerely hope she is not currently working.

    Facebook/Feb.8

  18. Maureen MacMillan

    I think most local community members who know anything, know the College has been creating problems since the beginning of the pandemic. From articles written by staff, to students refusing to wear masks in stores…it’s really casting seeds of division in our small town. It’s sad that the College isn’t doing more to prevent it…they seem to love passing on taking action of any kind. They’re adults…the staff is off campus…give me a break. These people are out representing your institution…if keeping our community safe was a priority there should have been some kind of actionable measure taken by now.

    Facebook/Feb.8

  19. Beverley Borutski Lapenskie

    In reply to Linda Neuman
    My 4-year old granddaughter knows to wear a mask to stay safe…these students need to learn how to read and listen what’s happening. What is being taught in that place??? I agree, send them back home and hopefully go back with a huge fine for putting the safety of others in jeopardy!

    Facebook/Feb.8

  20. Linda Neuman

    Obviously, these students do not understand what community and caring for each other means. I am disappointed that the school can’t do anything about it…maybe they need to be sent back home. Other universities do that if you are not following their rules so what is wrong with Our Lady Seat of Wisdom? What has happened to “Love thy neighbour” ? So very, very sad and to think that we have welcomed them to our community and now they want to put us at risk and possibly spread COVID 19 to residents of our small community. I feel sick to my stomach and it’s not COVID 19.

    facebook/Feb.8

    • Carolyn Kearney

      Totally agree with you Linda. No wonder they are being disliked so much. It’s like a cult there but what makes it so bad is that some PSW were observed with them. Totally livid especially when we haven’t seen our son for so long 😡🤬

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