Freedom Convoy: Concerns about the emergence of a convoy-linked group near Ottawa

The stark red banners hanging from St. Brigid’s Church on Saint Patrick Street are almost impossible to miss; the white emblem of a tree adorned with maple leaves offers little indication to neighbors as to who is behind the new developments in the deconsecrated church.

The group is known as The United People of Canada, a self-proclaimed federally created “non-profit social enterprise organization.”

Company records show three members on the group’s board of directors: Kimberley Ward, William Komer and Diane Nolan.

Social media posts show that all three have close ties to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ occupation.

Ward has previously told CTV News that she is an adviser to Tamara Lich, giving interviews to multiple media outlets in March when Lich was originally released on bail, saying at the time, “She’s happy. Everyone’s happy, we did it.”

Ward and Komer can be seen in multiple photos on social media with Lich’s husband, Dwayne Lich, who has already posted a lot about the new organization this spring.

For its part, Nolan took part in the occupation, several times live from the inner city.

In a January 30 livestream, Nolan appears on Parliament Hill and can be heard saying, “Wow, it’s real. Enough is enough, we stand for freedom, we stand for what God intended for this country from the beginning.”

Lowertown residents say they are concerned about the group’s appearance at the church and plan to create what TUPC calls “The Embassy”; a downtown location described by the organization’s social media as a “Forum of the People, where all voices have a chance to be heard, no matter how niche the thought, opinion, expression or belief is.”

“I’ve heard it’s a headquarters, an embassy, ​​an office, that sort of thing. That’s the part that makes me a little insecure,” said Mohamed Elmekki.

City officials and community organizations in the area say they have been overrun by residents concerned about the use of the space.

“We’ve looked online at who the group is, trying to find out what their objectives are, so we’re concerned, not terrified, but we’re in the process of finding a mission right now, just trying to get some more information said Sylvie Bingras, president of the Lowertown Community Association.

The building, a designated heritage site, is privately owned and is currently listed for a sale price of $5.95 million.

In an email, Komer told CTV News that the group plans to “restore surplus and underutilized institutional properties and adaptively reuse them in vibrant community spaces.”

CTV News contacted the property owner to inquire about the potential sale, but received no response within the deadline.

Sources tell CTV News there is interest from TUPC in the property.

Neighbors say they fear the group’s connections to the Freedom movement could ease tensions from the convoy’s occupation.

“It’s not a good feeling, no good memories. It was really terrible for a lot of people,” says Lise Letellier, who walks by the church almost every day.

“We are still very vulnerable because we went through a really rough time last February, a lot of our residents went through a really rough time – I have sons who live in Lowertown who were harassed and harassed,” Bingras said.

“I’m in a very challenging position when I say this is privately owned, but we’re here from the city’s point of view, we have to maintain public safety and we have to be accountable and responsible for the concerns of the residents Rideau-Vanier councilor said Mathieu Fleury.

CTV News contacted each of the directors of The United People of Canada for an interview, but received no response by the deadline.

In an email, Komer wrote, “It is unfortunate that our social enterprise organization… has been the subject of such hateful, untrue and defamatory statements circulating on social media recently.”

Komer did not elaborate on which statements about the group he deemed untrue.

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