Regarding Eric Hern, Chris Sky, and the power of small activism
It can take only one toxic person to weaken a movement. Natural immunity to this is found in transparency, firm boundary setting, a strong organic community, and the f-word: FUN.
I first met Eric Hern in London on October 16th, having been invited to speak there. London coordinators informed me that Hern essentially came out of nowhere and grappled for control of the London rally. I was also informed that he produced defamatory journalism (a tabloid hit piece) about London coordinator Elizabeth.
After genuinely appreciating Eric Hern’s work at an afterparty the evening of the 16th — and hoping that maybe what I had heard was exaggerated — I asked Hern to show a video by PPC candidate Victor Green, in which Vic called for Chris Sky to ally with him as a representative of Windsor. My goal was to celebrate leaders putting differences aside and coming together for the cause. But Eric Hern refused to play the video for the group. With some aggressive words about the People’s Party of Canada, he packed up his things and ran away. I did get upset at encountering this person’s willingness to sabotage purposeful unity, but the conflict was short-lived. I apologized to our host’s parents in the morning for having been noisy, and all is well.
Eric Hern made his own Facebook event page for the Windsor rally on the 23rd. He then began giving orders about how Windsor would organize that day. So, after seeking counsel from those close to me, I made it clear in a Facebook post that Eric Hern was not a Windsor coordinator. I made this announcement publicly because, had I drawn the boundary in private, it would have given Eric Hern an opportunity to lie about me to others, and/or the public, in the absence of contrary evidence. Judging by what I had seen, I did not trust him to accept the boundary gracefully, so I strategically chose transparency to minimize the impact of his defamation. In spite of my distrust of Eric Hern, I did still invite him to cover the event as a media entity.
In response to the boundary I had publicly drawn, Eric Hern threw a social media tantrum. He displayed absolutism, extremism, aggression, exaggeration. He made threats. He continued his attempts to take control of Windsor protests. He viciously told lies about my political position and my speaking (which I believe exemplifies psychological splitting). He deleted my responding comments and those of others who challenged him.
We did have a discussion about this in Facebook messenger. Rather than simply make his case for what he wanted, he consistently coupled his orders with threats. I will not work with a person who operates this way. View the discussion here.
When Chris Sky spoke in Windsor on the 23rd, Eric Hern bypassed the stepladder to climb up on stage on his own, suggesting he was aware that he was not welcome on stage. I ascended and stood near him to keep an eye on potential disruptions. When Chris was done speaking, Eric Hern tried to take the microphone from MC Pete. When I took the mic myself, to inform the audience that I had ivermectin (as Pete and I had already planned), Eric Hern used the conflict as an opportunity to shove me from behind.
Later the same day, Eric Hern joined Chris Sky’s crew. I watched him personally drive Chris’s tour bus out of the lot to begin Chris’s tour of Western Canada.
Not two weeks later, this is Chris Sky at a speaking engagement in British Columbia:
Notice that Eric Hern is the one filming. When he sighs, he is not sighing at Chris Sky. He is sighing at rallyers for playing music. Chris Sky then aggressively criticizes the playing of music, and attacks the people he’s there to inspire, for matters out of the audience’s control. This, after spending days in closed quarters with Eric Hern.
I’m not holding Eric Hern responsible for another man’s thoughts or behaviour, but I am recognizing that Eric Hern has a tendency, perhaps even a mission, to bring out negativity in people, to exacerbate vulnerabilities (like apprehension in some, or frustrated exhaustion in others), and to use those exacerbated vulnerabilities to create chaos, in which to seize control for himself. In my experience, Eric Hern’s behaviour has been consistently predatory. I would not spend a single moment alone in a room with him, let alone hours or days on a tour bus.
It is clear to me, having spoken with Chris on the phone, through email, and in person, that he is deeply and genuinely invested in this cause. I disagree with his opinions of some tactics (marches and music are both vital to the movement), but I also recognize his strength and inspiration in most areas. I acknowledge his sacrifices and his natural vulnerability as a human being, and I wish him the best. I would like to eventually see him in Windsor again.
And I’m not saying that showing anger is necessarily bad. I do it. Others do it. Everyone who is invested does it. It’s just important to stay conscious of it:
As someone who took a city’s worth of heat for resisting medical tyranny alone in mid-2020 (before I met Windsor’s freedom family), who has a pile of summons, who has been carried from a Staples and assaulted by police for resisting a medical test, and who has lived in opposition to medical tyranny the last two years (obstetric violence, then covid) — I understand the impatience Chris feels about those who aren’t fighting as hard.
But I still must emphasize the need to be patient, especially since celebrity visits and the energy they bring are rare. Chris has spoken more than once against music and marching, but these activities are first steps for people who have not engaged in civil disobedience before and are not prepared for it. Most people do not view themselves as natural activists. People are empowered to fight, and to keep fighting, by knowing they are supported by others, so it’s important to foster reliable network of relationships: a community. Every community is fueled by morale. Marches build morale, represent the people, and intimidate the corrupt.
About three thousand people came out to the rally in little old Windsor on the 23rd, the place Chris calls “the fighting spirit of Ontario.” Yes Chris was a big draw, but our proportionately high attendance didn’t happen by a wave of his magic wand. It happened because Windsor is full of wonderful practical people, it happened because we also hosted Greg Moore, Jody Ledgerwood and other leaders, it happened because I’m a smart chickie who knows to surround herself with pricelessly constructive coordinators, and it happened because Windsorites have been working together weekly for a year to build a strong community of people who look forward to celebrating freedom together.
Fun has been an integral part of that. Without fun, we’ll have breakdowns. The power of good fun is why comedy was the first victim of ‘cancel culture.’ And to be honest, fun is something Chris has been harnessing this whole time, jeering and laughing at the establishment on stage, and leading groups to joyously throw the middle finger up at discriminatory businesses. Fun is a part of Chris Sky’s strength, and fun is a part of Windsor’s strength.
Rallying with music and speeches — FUN — is a first step toward further action. Marching, especially in the road without a ‘permit’ (aside from established Charter precedent), is a next step. Steps after that involve mass civil disobedience, or in other words: united non-compliance. If we don’t encourage beginners to start with small steps, to develop not only their sense of themselves as risk-takers, but also develop their sense of unity with others, we won’t inspire them to go maskless, stand up against discrimination, insist upon sitting down to eat without a vaxpass, or participate in efforts like the Rosa Parks Challenge.
We can’t order the people to unite. We can only encourage them to develop their unity and purpose in a supportive environment that tests their character, so they can get to know themselves in the same environment in which they’re getting to know their allies.
If we want a strong, self-controlled, purposeful and successful movement, rather than a movement that sits paralyzed until everyone is desperate and then explodes in riotous violence in the streets, we must respect people’s boundaries while encouraging them to move forward at their own pace. (Okay, maybe a little faster than that. But it can’t be forced.)
We also must think hard, in our leadership positions, about the people’s limits and how to coordinate those limits using viable, detailed strategies. We must experiment and learn from our mistakes, and take responsibility for conceptual and strategic missteps.
I helped coordinate Windsor’s first big Flag rally against covid measures in October 2020. When it came time to march, I was reluctant to take the street. Kitty Kay had to order me onto the street to lead the march beside her: “These are OUR streets!” She was stern about it, and I joined her, and I’m grateful to her for the push.
After that, it still took me a while to develop my approach to disobedience. It took me a while to stop fearing police. It took me a while to be confident in my knowledge of the law. And oh, the difficulties I’ve had making myself engage in public speaking again, and again, and again; but I’m finally mostly comfortable.
My point is: the growth I’ve experienced in the past year started with that first step off the curb.
All it takes for an action to be enough is for it to involve taking a step outside your comfort zone. Gather your courage — with a song, with a speech, with a prayer, with a hug, with a word from a mentor — and then do something you haven’t done before. Push a boundary you haven’t pushed before. Remember your regrets about what you wish you had done last time, and do it next time.
Never underestimate the power of small activism. All it asks, in the moment, is that you do something for the first time. Do you usually put on the mask without being asked? Make them ask you next time. Do you usually put on the mask when asked? Tell them about your exemption next time, and stand by it. Do you usually leave a business when they try to expel you for your mask exemption? Wait for the police this time. Do you usually stand down for police when they’re trying to violate your rights? Stay put this time. Etcetra. The principle applies in any circumstance.
And the truth I’ve found is that in most circumstances: YOU will win. I have never worn a mask ever, not in public, not in any business. In 2021, I have never agreed to leave a business for being mask exempt. I was removed by police only once.
Every time you embrace a new way of pushing back, you learn something about tyranny and about yourself. You learn about your strength. You get a bit addicted to growing stronger.
It’s just like working out: you get stronger by consistently pushing yourself. And you love it!
That said, the analogy only goes so far. We can have successful workouts alone, but none of us can preserve Canada’s freedoms alone. None of us can single-handedly stop Canada following Australia’s path. No hero can save us — Chris will show up in your town once or twice, and then he’s working to support the rest of the country. We should embrace inspiration from leaders, but in the end we must save ourselves, as an organic and self-directed community built on a foundation of three things: love, freedom, and resistance to tyranny.
Wait, four things.
resistance to tyranny,