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Top Canadian defence officials condemn protesters dancing on Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


Protesters climbed on the cenotaph at the National War Memorial as well as danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, new video shows.

New video shot Saturday emerged after the chief of the defence staff said he was "sickened" to see video of people dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the "Freedom Convoy" protest in downtown Ottawa.

CTV News Ottawa received video showing someone standing on the Cenotaph placing a sign and a Quebec flag on the monument at night.

Earlier in the day Saturday, video on Twitter showed an individual jumping on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial, yelling, "Freedom."  The incident was filmed as thousands of people gathered in downtown Ottawa to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions.

"I am sickened to see protesters dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate the National War Memorial," said Gen. Wayne Eyre in a message on Twitter. "Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this. Those involved should hang their heads in shame."

Ottawa police told CTV News the incidents at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as the Terry Fox monument, on Saturday are being investigated.

Early Sunday morning, police placed some concrete barriers around the National War Memorial to keep vehicles away from the cenotaph following the incidents. 

"National monuments will be protected and should be respected by all. Barricades are installed to block any vehicular access to the path in front of the National War Memorial," police said.

Minister of Defence Anita Anand called some of the behaviour at the National War Memorial, "beyond reprehensible."

"The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and National War Memorial are sacred sites for our country. I urge all Canadians to treat them with solemnity, out of respect for those who have fought and died for Canada," said Anand on Twitter.

"The Royal Canadian Legion strongly condemns the shocking actions of protestors who encroached upon the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday," said President Bruce Julian in a statement.

"They jumped on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and parked vehicles on the surrounding grounds. This sacred memorial site commemorates those who fought and fell for the very freedoms that allow people in Canada the right to protest peacefully. We are dismayed and saddened by this overt lack of respect.”

The Royal Canadian Legion said Sunday they've seen a spike in donations since the incidents were reported.

"We have started to see a couple thousand dollars come in since this whole episode began," said Nujma Bond, Royal Canadian Legion spokesperson.

Early Saturday morning, several vehicles were parked at the National War Memorial before being moved by Ottawa police.

"Several vehicles parked at the National War Memorial this morning and were immediately towed," said police in a statement. "Cars are not allowed to park and people will not be allowed to desecrate the Memorial."

Down Wellington Street, someone placed an upside-down Canada flag on the statue of Terry Fox.

“I thought it was reprehensible that people were putting anti-mask signs and upside down Canadian flags at the Terry Fox statue," said Mayor Jim Watson during an interview on CTV News Channel.

"We have video of people dancing on a grave of the Unknown Soldier; we had to tow people away who were parked at the National War Monument. This kind of behaviour sets back any positive movements or support that this rally might have."

Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole issued a statement on Twitter about the incidents at the Terry Fox statue and the National War Memorial during Saturday's demonstrations.

"I support the right to peacefully protest but that should not be confused with blatant disrespect for the men and women who have served, inspired, and protected our country," said O'Toole Saturday evening.

"The individuals desecrating these memorials should be ashamed and their behaviour undermines the brave Canadians who have sacrificed for our country."

The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada issued a statement condemning people standing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and defacing a statue of Terry Fox, "In the strongest possible terms."

"These individuals do not represent the Trucking Industry or Canadians! They should be ashamed of themselves! The trucking community does not stand with or for the actions of a few disrespectful individuals who act in such a disrespectful and disgraceful manner," said President Mike Millian.

"These actions in no way reflect the vast majority of men and women in the trucking industry and has no place in any protest of proud and respectful Canadians."

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond and Jackie Perez Top Stories

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