The founder of Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada (VETS) say they’ve received an onslaught of hate mail and harassment after issuing a statement saying they will not accept funds from an event in Estevan, Sask.
“Literally, my phone rang all night. Emails one after another, and just being completely destroyed on Twitter,” said Jim Lowther, co-founder of VETS.
Co-founders Jim and Debbie Lowther issued a statement Thursday saying they won’t accept funds from the event called the “Canada’s Patriot Party.”
The statement cited reasoning for the refusal that “organizers and participants may be associated with organizations and groups whose views and beliefs do not align with the VETS Canada principles and values.”
“We got a lot of calls and emails from a variety of different people, saying, ‘hey you guys have to have a look at this, at these people that are surrounding themselves with the organizers of this event,” said Jim.
“We realized that you know, this is something that we didn’t want to be associated with.
“We had to stand up, we had to take a stand. You have to take a stand against things like this. It’s difficult but its something that we have to do as Canadians. It’s hard when you know you’re going to be attacked and publicly humiliated for it, but you still have to do it.”
The event’s promotional video features video of yellow vest protests throughout. The movement’s protest messaging has been linked to the scrapping of the carbon tax, pipeline construction and the UN Migration Pact.
Following VETS’ statement, event organizer Jamie Knyx issued his own video statement on social media, asking attendees to “express your concerns” to the founders of VETS.
He provided Jim’s phone number and email in the public video and post.
Jim said some of the messaging they were receiving became threatening, adding, “You know it got to the point where we were afraid. We were ready to pack up and go to my parents.
“We’re being absolutely persecuted because we chose not to accept a donation. I would never have expected this in a million years. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The Estevan event’s organizers issued a statement Saturday morning, refuting claims they were linked to the yellow vest movement.
“We don’t support hate or any side of any political debate and remain nonpartisan. This event is about trying to help raise awareness and funds for our veterans, not the yellow vests. We invite people to bring their Canadian Flags and their hearts,” read the statement.
Jim said he and Debbie felt there were red flags leading up to the event prior to them refusing the funds.
“They started a GoFundMe page for $25,000. No one gave them permission to start a GoFundMe page,” explained Jim.
“When I asked the organizer, ‘why did you do that?’ he said ‘well, you know, people wanted to donate that weren’t going to come to the show,’ and I was thinking, you know that’s really weird, because they can go to our website and donate on our website. I told him to immediately take that down as well.”
Jim said there was “variety hate speech and hate talk,” in the material sent to them, which ignited the motion to end the partnership.
“This stuff is so new to us, and as a veteran myself, I’m shocked. I’m shocked at this.”