In the village of Beiseker the community hockey arena is more than just a recreational complex — it is very much a cultural hub. Before the Restriction Exemption Program (i.e. vaccine passport) came into effect, the arena brought the town together. People would gather to watch the local team, parents would mingle and chat as their kids took to the ice, neighbours would catch up on the latest gossip and some folks might even get a little bit of business done, all while taking in a game together.
When Jason Kenney and the Government of Alberta announced their Restriction Exemption Program, businesses were left with the very difficult decisions of deciding whether to reduce capacity or mandate vaccines. The arena in Beiseker opted to implement mandatory vaccines, and with that decision some members of the community were excluded simply because, for medical, religious or personal reasons, they were unable to be vaccinated.
When we were in Beiseker the tension was palpable. Many were very happy to see us shedding light on the medical segregation, but a few folks, including a couple hockey players who approached us, were outright hostile. Before our cameras were rolling they shouted expletives at us and made some offhand remarks about the people we were speaking with. They then proceeded to ask what we were doing before driving off and screaming out the window that we should leave in just about as vulgar a manner as you could imagine. Shortly afterwards, our next scheduled interviewee showed up, and he suggested it was likely best we film elsewhere as the same young men who has been yelling at us had told their parents they didn’t want us around.
Sadly, these young men had somehow been convinced that the only reason they were able to play hockey was because the unvaccinated were being excluded. The unscientific victim-blaming rhetoric of politicians like Jason Kenney and Justin Trudeau not only divided this community, and countless other like it across Canada, but it was now actively manifesting as anger towards the unvaccinated and marginalized members of this community.
As always, we were there to tell the other side of the story, and we met with some of the folks who have been left out in the cold, while those with the “right” medical history get to carry on inside. We also spoke with Leighton Grey, a lawyer who issued a letter to the Beiseker Ag Society, the folks who run the facility, urging them to consider transitioning to a reduced capacity model to ensure that people are not excluded based on their vaccine status. Leighton also provided us some legal background on the story.
We also reached out to the Beiseker Ag Society, but they have not yet sent a reply.
If you agree that hockey arenas should be a place where people get together and form a community, not a place where people are excluded because of their vaccine status, you can contribute to our legal battle against vaccine mandates at FightVaccinePassports.com. Your donations will allow us to hire top notch legal representation for people facing vaccine segregation.