Garden River homeowner responds to what they view as a double-standard

As SaultOnline reported this past week, there was a “pre-lockdown” party, which happened on the Friday of the Easter Weekend in Sault Ste Marie.

Algoma Public Health has not released the address of the party, stating to SaultOnline, “We issue public notifications when we do not have information to contact everyone who may have been exposed in a timely manner,” said Jon Bouma, Manager of Infectious Disease. “If there is an exposure risk to the public, APH would issue a notification with the times and locations of exposure, as well as public health instructions on next steps, and how to contact APH for further information.”

SaultOnline spoke with the owners of a home on Garden River First Nation where an alleged New Year’s Eve party happened.  The address of the gathering was published promptly across the media.

Algoma Public Health was specifically asked by the homeowner of the New Years Eve gathering to not publish their address, stating that they supplied APH with a complete list of the individuals who attended the residence that evening.

“My partner had a specific conversation with [APH], they called here. He told them you were supplied with the name of all the kids who attended here, do not publish our address. And later that day, our address was published.”

The homeowner, who was away at the time of the alleged party, shares what it was like responding to the backlash as a result of the release by APH.

“People could google the address and find out the name of the homeowner, and as a result my daughter was getting bullied. We were afraid for our safety.  Also the kids that attended here were severely harassed and bullied on social media due to the release of our address. Our family was public shamed and personally attacked by all kinds of individuals. I was getting ignorant messages. People were driving by our house, it was ridiculous.”

Three charges were laid for the New Years Eve gathering, in which the names of the homeowners (who were not present at the time of the gathering) were published publicly. The homeowner, the common-law partner of the homeowner, and the daughter were charged under the Reopening Act of Ontario.

The act in which the charges were based is as follows:

  • Host a gathering at a residential premises exceeding the number of persons permitted contrary to Sec. 10.1(1) of the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020.

We reached out to APH again to ask why they haven’t identified the address or individuals involved in the pre-lockdown party.  Leo Vecchio, communications manager for APH commented, “APH provides the time and location of exposure, where there is risk to the general public.  We do not provide a public exposure notification if all close contacts can be directly identified and notified.  And we absolutely do not provide names of individuals.  Where there is question about breach of the law, that’s a police matter.”

We have inquired to the Sault Police Services about the situation and if there are pending charges for the Easter Weekend party, however, we have yet to receive a response.

The Garden River homeowner has thoughts on how APH may respond.

“They’re probably going to respond and say we were able to contact all the individuals. And so how do they know they contacted all the individuals? Some kids who attended the Easter Party are scared to come forward saying they weren’t even at this party.”

She is frustrated with how this appears to the general public, almost like there are two separate sets of rules when it comes to identifying addresses of parties.

“My thing is, if you’re going to do for one, then you should do for everybody. So what made this case in Garden River, different from the one in town?”  A fair statement to make as the differences between the two situational parties appears to only be the address.

Stay with SaultOnline as we continue to provide you information in regards to this ongoing story.


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