Group ticketed by Hamilton police last week included family protesting lockdowns

A group of people ticketed by Hamilton police last week included a family from Owen Sound that has been organizing anti-lockdown protests. 

Dr. Tim O'Shea, who works with homeless population, says people should follow COVID-19 rules

Phoenix Scott, 13, stands with her mother and father as they hand out supplies. They do it without masks or physical distancing, and have been involved a protests against rules aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. (Submitted by Julie Corneman)

A group of people ticketed by Hamilton police last week included a family from Owen Sound that has been organizing anti-lockdown protests. 

The group, called Project Phoenix, were among 14 people ticketed last week for failing to wear masks and practise social distancing, and for refusing requests to disperse.

Phoenix Scott, 13, and her mother, Julie Corneman, say they were out to help the homeless and it had nothing to do with their involvement in organizing anti-lockdown protests.

Scott says she and her parents visit cities, primarily Toronto and Montreal, and say they're helping homeless communities there.

But they did it — and continue to do it — without wearing masks. And they've organized at least one protest against rules aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

The family says the "freedom rallies" they attend are separate from the work they do with homelessness. "Project Phoenix is a humanitarian effort that has nothing to do with rallies," Corneman said.

Dr. Tim O'Shea, an infectious disease specialist who has worked with Hamilton's street-involved population for years, said that he generally agrees with anyone who says not enough is being done for people experiencing homelessness in Ontario. But he would be "concerned about people travelling from city to city and interacting with different numbers of different communities just in the perspective of trying to make sure we're following the suggested guidelines and getting on top of the pandemic as quickly as we can."

"Am I offended by people coming and helping people in homelessness from the perspective of 'are they stepping on toes?' I wouldn't say so. I think the only concern I would have is the issues related to the pandemic."

Project Phoenix held an anti-lockdown protest in Woodstock on Jan. 21. The London Free Press also reported Phoenix has been a speaker at other rallies and even planned to hold another demonstration in London on Jan. 26.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.