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

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.


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4 responses to “Meet the woman on the trail of Toronto’s anti-mask protests”

  1. I, personally, don’t care about some ideological notions of freedom and liberty in not wearing a mask, and I’m quite willing to wear a shield when it’s allowed; it’s the suffocating-like panic I experience after 60-90 seconds. I try to accommodate the mandate by positioning the upper portion of the mask in a way that allows a little leeway in my breathing while still covering the nostrils. Yet, for many Covid-19 bullies, even that is not good enough. (My doctor doesn’t seem to care; it’s like she just wants to do her hours, go home with her pay and forget about the whole Covid thing for the rest of the day.)

  2. Sure Frank. I’m certain you experience that same panic when you curl up under the covers when you go to bed at night.

  3. Frank-you can get treatment for that kind of irrational panic and that way still keep others safe.

  4. I think for those in Ontario who don’t believe they should be wearing a mask, here is a simple solution. Sign a waiver that OHIP will not cover any Doctor, Hospital, Drug or Ambulance expenses that are a result of Covid-19. You will be responsible for all of these cost as well as agreeing that OHIP covered patients will be treated first.

    If you have medical conditions that make it impossible for you to wear a mask, you should not be going to places where masks are required and isolating as you are in a high risk group. There are enough agencies out there to help with the delivery of food and essential items, no reason to put yourself and others at risk.

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