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Dear Editor,

I read your news story online and wanted to clarify what happened, from my recollection.

For the first time in my 52 years, I made the trek to Wiarton for Groundhog Day. Yes, I took some signs with witty, groundhog related comments but they were both very lighthearted.

I arrived as the fireworks started, accompanied by an OSSTF colleague and friend. We had been there about 10 minutes when the mayor (I actually didn’t know she was the mayor but I guessed she had some role to play because of her fancy costume and big hat). As closely as I remember it she said ‘You people are going to have to go to the street with your signs. This Is a community event and we don’t want any protests. You might get beat up here.’

I told her I’d flip my sign around and off she went. I was absolutely flabbergasted. Kevin Smith then told me that she was the mayor, to which I replied, "she just ‘you people’d us!"

I watched the proceedings and actually Facebook Live’d most of it which will prove that I was in no way disrespectful or rude.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, I joined some friends with flags over near the media area. We were there about 5 minutes just holding up our signs and flags. We were quiet. So quiet in fact that someone I didn’t know, who I assumed was a parent, asked us why we were so quiet and why we weren’t chanting. She tried to get people saying Cuts Hurt Kids but no one joined it.

It was then that someone who identified herself as the town clerk told us we were not allowed to picket (we explained this wasn’t a picket), that we weren’t allowed to protest on town property according to a bylaw that she refused to name, and said that it was HER festival and she had every right to tell us to leave.

The people of Wiarton were incredibly supportive, many asking to take photos with us and thanking us for standing up for education.

The mayor and the town clerk, not so welcoming.

Like Doug Ford, I'd like to come back in the summer, I’d come back in the winter too. I had eaten in the area, stayed in a local motel, spent my money in your community. It’s disappointing that I left feeling I should have stayed home.

Thanks for reading.

Karen Littlewood, Vice President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation









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