Terry Fox, Resurrected as Victimized Canadian Icon

Janice Fiamengo03 Feb, 2022 4 Min Read
The ironies here are multiple.

With the eyes of the world now on Ottawa, where an enormous truckers’ convoy is demanding an end to vaccine mandates and the resignation of the country’s hapless prime minister, Canadian print media have seized on the alleged “defacement” of the Terry Fox statue in downtown Ottawa (here and here) with the breathless outrage normally reserved for acts of extraordinary cruelty or contempt. 

The mayor of Port Coquitlam, Fox’s hometown, claimed to have been “mortified” by what happened, expressing his angry conviction that whatever message activists might have had in mind was now lost because “thousands if not millions of people in this country are going to see what they did to the Terry Fox statue and be absolutely disgusted.” 

But what exactly was done to the statue, and why should it erase the message of the Freedom Convoy?

It’s true that Terry Fox (1958-1981) was for a time the closest thing this taciturn and divided country had to a national hero, an attractive young person who responded to adversity with grit and grace. Fox was an athlete and cancer survivor who, after having had a leg amputated in 1977 due to bone cancer, set out on an east-to-west run in 1980 (the Marathon of Hope) to raise money for cancer research. When his cancer returned 143 days into his punishing marathon-a-day run, he was forced to end the campaign, but an annual event held across Canada continues to celebrate his memory and to raise millions of dollars. Although his name is not nearly as well known today as it once was, he seems an unlikely target for angry protest. One might even draw a parallel between Terry and the truckers, both crossing the country with an altruistic aim.

In recent years, damaging statues has become a common tactic by social justice activists. During the Black Lives Matter-sponsored "Summer of Love" in 2020, statues in most major cities in the United States were graffitied, toppled, beheaded, smashed, or set on fire (a partial list is found here). Statues in Toronto and other Canadian cities were also targeted for desecration. And though such acts caused outrage amongst the public, some politicians cheered on the fury of the activists while media outlets minimized the chaos and destruction they caused. 

In contrast to the swath of damage left by BLM agitators, the Terry Fox statue has not actually been harmed in any way, though one wouldn’t know it from the hand-wringing headlines. Pictures of the “defaced” statue show the figure of Fox with a cap on his head, an upside-down Canadian flag in hand (symbol of distress and danger), another flag draped like a cape from his neck, and the placard “Mandate Freedom” balanced between his chest and arm. Whether one finds the appropriation of Fox’s image to have been in good taste or not will likely depend on the intensity of one’s beliefs about vaccine mandates as an assault on individual liberty. In any case, it’s hard to see any ill will towards Terry Fox himself, or Canadian society in general, in the action. No effort at all will have been required to restore the statue to its pristine form. 

The ironies here are multiple, and the near-baseless fuss provides a snapshot of the upside-down state of cultural politics in Canada, in which a demonstration for liberty by genuinely working-class people—exactly the constituents our leaders claim to care about—can find almost no support or even a fair hearing. Terry Fox too, truth be told, was largely ignored during much of the first part of his run, especially in inward-looking Quebec, where newsmakers couldn’t be bothered about an Anglophone activist. 

Today, the legacy media has been working overtime to dig up dirt on the Freedom Convoy and to minimize the extent of its popular support. The dirt-digging has proved difficult given how well-organized and self-disciplined the truckers have shown themselves thus far. Hours of video footage have highlighted the surprising lack of rancor and good-natured diversity of this pan-Canadian uprising, with its plethora of Canadian flags, patriotic anthem-singing, and outbreaks of pickup hockey. 

Pundits could only fall back on their standard response to any expression by the working classes not authorized by the Crown Prince of Woke (and generous funder of Canadian media compliance) prime minister Justin Trudeau. Using his facile arsenal of slander, Trudeau accused the protesting truckers of racism and abuse, tweeting that they were “steal[ing] food from the homeless, “fly[ing] racist flags,” “engag[ing] in vandalism” and “dishonour[ing] the memory of our veterans.” Given that the only hard evidence for any of these claims was the so-called “vandalism” of the Terry Fox monument, that has had to be seized on with melodramatic intensity.  

Terry Fox was a beautiful young man who briefly inspired a nation notoriously reticent about heroism. But we haven’t heard much about him lately. As a heterosexual white man from a middle-class family, Fox is no longer the ideal representative of Trudea’s nation without a “core identity,” and under other circumstances, celebration of him as “iconic” would likely draw criticism from the arbiters of Canadian civic morality, who would urge us all to look elsewhere—to dark-skinned, Indigenous, and female personages—for our heroes. There are plenty of those at the Freedom Convoy, now unheralded by the media apparatus. 

It is testimony to the old adage about politics making strange bedfellows that, with their “We’re all in this together” mantra coming under threat as never before, even those who might normally disparage Terry Fox’s white male privilege are prepared to portray him as a sanctified victim.

Janice Fiamengo is a retired Professor of English from the University of Ottawa who lives in New Westminster, BC with her husband, poet and songwriter David Solway. She hosts The Fiamengo File, a YouTube series on Studio Brulé about the fraud of academic feminism and its impact on western culture. She edited and introduced Sons of Feminism: Men Have Their Say, a collection of personal essays.

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6 comments on “Terry Fox, Resurrected as Victimized Canadian Icon”

  1. The hypocrisy from the woke mob knows no bounds. Not surprising given that they often equate truth with harassment. I am not sure how we will be able to unite this country in the future given that it is impossible to reason with fanatics.

  2. "I'm betting on the average citizen to finally see through this empty hate."
    I fervently hope that you will win your bet, but personally, I wouldn't put any money on it yet. According to Mattias Desmit, roughly four in ten people are Covidian Cultists. They are in a trance. Those of us who have tried to have tried to counter their stoked up fears with logic and evidence would readily agree. Many of them live in the CBC Matrix and have been fatally contaminated by propaganda. For them, independent thought is an atrophied muscle, and they have no ambition to do their own research. Attempted dialogue is futile.

    What we see as plain as day typically goes unnoticed, and when it does come into view it is instantly framed by their trusted information gatekeepers to fit the SJW narrative. It takes a seismic event shake True Believers out of their rut, and I don't know yet what this amazing truckers protest registers on the political Richter scale. We are entering perhaps the most pivotal week in post war Canadian history. More pivotal than the October crisis of 1970. My mood fluctuates between euphoria and apprehension.

    Terrific article Janice! It is what we have come to expect from you.

  3. Janice, the lies are never surprising, at least to me. What IS surprising is the parallel to the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes": most people know a lie is being told, yet when the liars are confronted they deny that such is the case. It's a sophisticated version of what 1950s brainwashing used to do, and what is still being done -- subliminal tricks to get people to doubt their own sanity.

  4. The furor over the not-actually-vandalized Terry Fox statue is matched only by the hysteria over the single (as far as I know) Confederate flag and the two (as far as I know) Nazi flags (one a swastika flag under an F*** Trudeau flag on a common flagpole and one a Canadian flag with swastikas in each corner) among the gazillions of flags and placards at the rallies on Parliament Hill. And how is it that no one among the MSM managed to see the two rainbow flags I saw on January 29th? The atmosphere on the Hill on January 29 was celebratory, jubilant, euphoric even. The overwhelming message of the protesters was "Freedom!" Oh boy -- you can really see the $1.2 billion in government funding for the CBC and the $600 million to support "trustworthy" news sources at work in the reporting about the Freedom Convoy protest on the Hill.

  5. Thank you for an excellent article. How long will it take the average citizen to see the hypocrisy? With all of the usual cultural bombs being tossed, eg racist, sexist, homophobe and on an on it is totally transparent that those bombs are desperate fake news. The emperor has no clothes. I'm betting on the average citizen to finally see through this empty hate. And then what happens?

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