On February 14, Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoS), an organization dedicated to leaking data, distributed a list of over 92,000 donations that were made to the Ottawa ‘freedom convoy’ through the fundraising website GiveSendGo. Protesters began collecting funds on GiveSendGo after GoFundMe blocked their attempts to raise funds through the website.

The leaked documents from DDoS contained the dollar amounts of each donation, alongside identifying information such as donors’ email addresses and zip codes. Since the files were leaked, a number of news organizations have produced a large volume of press reports analyzing different aspects of the donation data. 

The Varsity has discovered that at least 13 U of T community members made donations, which total to 1,435 USD.

Protest background

The protests, which began in Ottawa, were initially meant to challenge COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the border, and expanded to oppose public health measures that fight the spread of COVID-19. However, protesters have been seen displaying racist slogans and iconography, including a few with swastikas and confederate flags

The Ottawa protests have proven to be a source of frustration for Ottawa residents over the past month due to their constant noise and disruption. After some protesters moved to Toronto, they also caused disruptions around the U of T campus, causing the university to temporarily close some buildings. 

Protesters have also received funds from several other donation drives, including the ‘Adopt-a-Trucker’ campaign, which the DDoS group leaked further information about on February 15.

U of T donations

Out of the 92,000 donations released in the document, 12 were made through U of T email addresses. At least one additional person who donated with a personal email address confirmed in their donation message that they are a U of T alum.  

Three of the emails belonged to professors, three were student email addresses, and three were alumni email addresses. The Varsity could not confirm the identity of the remaining three emails. 

Of the three professors who donated, two did not respond to The Varsity’s requests for comment. One declined to comment on the record, but confirmed that they had donated. One professor commented on the donation form, “Keep your courage up! Every sane person in Canada is rooting for you!”

The highest single U of T-affiliated contribution was from an alum, who donated 500 USD. The median donation amount was 50 USD.

National and international figures

In total, Canadians donated around 4.3 million USD out of the approximately 8.4 million USD that the convoy collected on GiveSendGo — slightly over 50 per cent of the total. However, the actual number of donations from the United States was much higher. Americans accounted for approximately 52,000 of the 92,844 donations that have been leaked, while around 36,000 Canadians donated.

The Varsity’s analysis shows that large financial contributions came from email addresses associated with universities in Canada and the US.

The leaks include at least 107 donations that seemed to be made using email addresses with domain names that are associated with Canadian universities. These donations amounted to over 11,000 USD in total. Universities often give out email addresses to students, staff, faculty or alums. The Varsity has not attempted to contact every individual who did use a university email address for verification.

An additional 229 donations were made using email addresses that end in “.edu,” which are associated with US universities. These donations totalled to 18,537 USD, and included emails from top-tier universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford and MIT. 

However, these numbers may not represent the full picture, as it is possible that university community members donated using other email addresses.