Calgary residents donated more than $250K US to convoy protests

People living in the Calgary area donated $251,580 US to a campaign intended to benefit the convoy protest through the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, leaked data posted online shows.

Tally greater than what was given by the entire province of Manitoba, at $145K US

Supporters look on as anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate protesters leave in a truck convoy after blocking the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., on Feb. 15. There were 1,964 donations to the protest linked to postal codes in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

People living in the Calgary area donated about $251,580 US to a campaign intended to benefit the convoy protest through the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, shows leaked data posted online.

The data was hacked illegally and released publicly on Feb. 13.

CBC News analyzed the data and built a tally of the donations from those who listed a postal code with forward sortation areas (FSAs) from within the city of Calgary.

Along with postal codes, donation figures and names, the leaked data also includes email addresses.

CBC News emailed all Calgary donors who contributed more than $1,000 US, but many did not reply to the request for comment and only one was willing to go on record. Those who did not want to go on record have not been identified.

The figures listed in this article should be taken as approximate given the way the website GiveSendGo treated its data validation.

Some of the names are clearly placeholders — for example, one donor listed their first and last name as Freedom Lover — while a limited number of Calgary postal codes are paired with United States country codes.

GiveSendGo also did not require its users to verify the postal codes that they listed, meaning those users could have entered fake information. A large portion of the donations listed as being from Canada did give a true postal code and some additional Calgary donations may not be included.

With those caveats in mind, here's what the data reveals in Calgary, by the numbers:

  • There were 1,964 donations linked to postal codes in Calgary. 
  • 1,905 people in Calgary made donations.
  • The mean average amount donated was $128.10 US while the most common donation was $100 US.
  • Total donations in Calgary reached $251,580 US. The GiveSendGo platform took $15,245.10 US of that total in fees.
  • 33 donors gave $1,000 US or more.
  • The largest donation from Calgary appears to have come from a local real estate investor, who made three separate donations totalling $17,000 US.

With a total of $251,580 US, Calgary outpaced what was given in the province of Manitoba, at $145,000 US, and about about $50,000 US more than Saskatchewan residents, who kicked in nearly $200,000 US

Calgary's donations represent nearly six per cent of the total amount donated in Canada, listed at $4.3 million US, but Calgary makes up just 3.5 per cent of Canada's population. 

Similar city-based tallies have not been fully completed so far by CBC News, so a direct city-to-city comparison is not yet possible.

Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, said the high numbers emerging out of Calgary are not particularly surprising.

"Just out of voter behaviour and public opinion, there is a slightly higher percentage of people [in Alberta] who would sympathize with some of the causes that are represented by this convoy," she said.

"So if that means concerns about government regulations, vaccination rules and so forth, we're likely to see more enthusiasm for some of those issues in Alberta than perhaps in other parts of the country."

Lori Williams
Mount Royal University political science professor Lori Williams says given that Calgary has a very high per capita income, it's not surprising to see some high level dollar donations from the Calgary donors. (Colin Hall/CBC)

According to a CBC News analysis of the data, 55.7 per cent of the 92,844 donations made public came from donors in the United States, and 39 per cent came from those in Canada, although Canadians donated more money in total.

Calgary resident Toni Morberg, who donated $2,000 US to the protests, said she did so because she is opposed to mandates, believing they are ineffective.

"I hope we can figure out some other way to end the mandates and let Canadians get back to living. And may this unnecessary overreach never happen again," she wrote in an email.

The online fundraising campaign was initially hosted on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, but donors were redirected to the lesser-known GiveSendGo after GoFundMe said it would stop payments to the organizers of Freedom Convoy 2022, citing a violation of its rules on violence and harassment.

University of Calgary political scientist Melanee Thomas said she ascribed much of the anger surrounding pandemic measures to political leaders who encourage dissent around pandemic mandates.

"The problem is, the mandates are legitimate," she said. "The state has the power to engage in those kinds of mandates, and in the context of a public health crisis, precipitated by a pandemic, it is democratically responsible for them to do so."

In Alberta, protesters aligned with Canada-wide protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures gathered and frequently blocked the international border crossing at Coutts for weeks.

They left Feb. 15, a day after Alberta RCMP arrested at least 13 people and seized a cache of firearms.

    With files from Elizabeth Thompson, Roberto Rocha and Albert Leung