Meet the woman on the trail of Toronto’s anti-mask protests
Lawyer Caryma Sa'd has quickly fashioned a reputation for taking on the political forces of ill will through creative resistance
By Enzo DiMatteo
May 14, 2021
Photo courtesy of Caryma Sa'd.
When we last interviewed lawyer Caryma Sa’d for our trailblazer’s issue, she spoke to us about how growing up in mostly-white Mississauga to a Palestinian father and Indian mother informed her opinions about politics and inclusivity. She’s had to confront the latter as an up and comer and woman of colour in the male-dominated legal profession.
On that front, she has struck out on her own and quickly gained a reputation for taking on ruthless landlords as well as being an advocate for medical marijuana patients. Lately, she’s also found notoriety for fighting for her political causes through creative resistance.
To be sure, she has taken her well-known enthusiasm for professional wrestling – and satire – into the social media arena where she has displayed some crafty grappling skills. Politicians are a popular target of comics she produces for her followers online.
But lately, her sharp wit and equally pointed criticism have been directed at a different kind of menace to society: Chris Saccoccia, aka Chris Sky, the pied piper of an anti-mask movement that’s been growing as lockdown exhaustion reaches new heights in Canada.
What Sa’d considered an innocent comment she left on one of Sky’s social media accounts is what started it all. Before long, his legion of 250k followers online were sending her hateful messages and threats. Clearly, the intent was to intimidate. But not one to back down from a fight, Sa’d pushed back and has been pushing back ever since.
She’s now taken the fight directly to Sky’s supporters, showing up at anti-mask rallies on her motorized scooter and with camera in hand – and lately security – to document and help uncover the madness behind the phenomenon.
At first it was all for shits and giggles. But the deeper she waded into the mindset of the folks attending the rallies, the more she has found herself trying to understand the forces at work that would cause otherwise “normal” people to follow someone like Sky – not to mention, put themselves in harm’s way in the middle of a public health crisis.
She says the reception from most has been cordial. She feels empathy for those among them that have told her stories about losing their jobs and businesses and having to struggle to survive.
But just as disconcerting for Sa’d has been the growing presence of right-wing extremists at the protests who have been using the events to distribute literature and recruit for their cause.
We delved into these issues – and ongoing set-to with Sky – for this week’s podcast.
Enzo was born in Belgium and emigrated with his family to Canada in the heat of Trudeaumania. He is a winner of numerous writing awards and the only (alleged) Commie banned from entering Cuba. It’s complicated. Claims to fame: champion wood-chopper.