Last Sunday night, at a protest and prayer vigil for then-imprisoned Pastor Artur Pawlowski, I ran into a woman I first met a year ago who told me she had changed her mind about Artur. He was not the bombastic exaggerator about the Nazi-like behaviour of the Alberta government that she thought he was. She confessed to me Art was right all along.
Artur had been in jail at the time for nearly 50 days for offering a sermon of support and strength to truckers who were blockading the border at Coutts, Alberta, in opposition to the remaining COVID restrictions in Canada.
Art was picked up, and denied bail, on charges under the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act and mischief. That evening, pastors from the Edmonton area and supporters had gathered at Canada's largest jail to offer support and prayers and sing for Artur.
I first met Regina Gorman at a protest at Edmonton's GraceLife Church after the church was seized by the Alberta government and the pastor, James Coates, was arrested and held for 35 days in the same jail Art was in.
Regina told me a stunning story of how she was a political prisoner in Poland, held for 13 months in a Soviet prison for crimes against the state. She had come to Canada for freedom, to build a life while helping to build Canada, but what she saw happening to the Christians at GraceLife was too much.
She had seen it before, at the hands of the Communists in Poland and has decided to speak out.
But even back then, she wasn't sure that her fellow Polish immigrant should be using a word that stings still in the ears of her people; Nazis. Artur routinely uses that word to describe authorities who barge into churches, seize bank accounts, and arrest pastors and peaceful protesters who oppose the government.
On Sunday, however, Regina was there at the jail not only to support Art but to admit he was right.
Worse still, Regina told me a horrific story of what the last year has been like for her. She was put on unpaid leave from CNRL after the oil company made vaccines mandatory, even though she was a remote worker.
The horrors didn't stop there.
The pressure and coercion from her bosses triggered an onslaught of her post-traumatic stress disorder related to her time spent in a Soviet gulag. When her company told her she could come back to work, she was in no state to return, still in the thralls of the mental health crisis the company triggered through their bad actions. She can't come back so she has been fired.
Regina's story is heartbreaking and it is terrible to hear, but I am so glad she told it. The decision-makers should know what they have done to the lives of people just trying to make a living and live their lives.
Canada promised Regina freedom when she escaped, but the Soviet mentality followed her here. She deserved better.