With nearly 70 percent of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated and the country opening up, members of the anti-vaxxer/lockdown movement are increasingly finding themselves having no choice but to deal with a pro-vaccine society. So what are anti-lockdown zealots supposed to do?
For a start, they can create their own microsociety where “freedom-loving Canadians” can plan meetups, find dates, and buy and sell goods and services on a clunky website, a Craigslist for anti-vaxxers, if you will.
That’s what one activist is trying to do with Freedom Pages—a “directory for freedom-loving Canadians,” your one-stop shop for all your anti-lockdown needs.
“We have dedicated this site to Freedom Lovers—people who don’t agree with the unlawful medical tyranny in Canada,” the site’s founder wrote on Telegram earlier this month. “Therefore, everything you find on our site is intended to be mask-free, vax-free, and fear-free.”
The activist spearheading the campaign goes by Steve Berger online and was the man who previously did his damndest to recruit people of colour into the movement. Berger and the people running Freedom Pages did not respond to requests for comment from VICE World News.
Freedom Pages grew out of a collection of Telegram pages that listed regional vaccine-free and mask-free services and employment. Now, they’ve expanded to dating, housing, events, and more. The listings on Freedom Pages are, well, probably what you think. Holistic healers and vague “wellness” products punctuate the site but some go a step further. Here you can hire anti-mask mechanics, a man who will teach specialized Russian martial arts only to the unvaccinated, or a vaccine-free daycare. There are also a few ads offering employment to anti-maskers.
“Un mask’d and unvax’d semi-retired Social Worker offering non-medical support and companionship for elders of varying capacities,” reads one listing.
The dating section features ads like “Scarborough Vac Free Male Looking for love” and “Redpilled English Bloke Mid 40’s.” One woman’s bio simply reads “vax free. Prefer the same in you.”
The pages also feature ads that have far-right tones. One man writes he’s looking for a “Great Reset Survival Partner.” He says, “I’m positive toward my people and culture and I believe in nature, biology, and physical reality… Woke politics doesn’t mix with that.”
The website also offers followers links to templates for lawsuit threats they can send to an employer, school, or elected official over mask and vaccine rules, a tactic that has been used unsuccessfully throughout the pandemic. Recently one of the highest profile lawsuits brought against Ontario—filed by a man who became an anti-lockdown celebrity for not closing his BBQ restaurant—failed in spectacular fashion. (The man raised over $300,000 for the lawsuit and lost because his legal team filed the wrong paperwork.)
One interesting note for Freedom Pages is its association with another online upstart, a staffing app dubbed Staffing Call. Staffing Call looks to help clients with staffing emergencies and is headed up by Adam Balogh, who spent years as a pediatric nurse. The app is receiving funding from the “University of Alberta Health Hub & Accelerator.” VICE World News reached out to the university to see exactly what this entailed but has yet to hear back.
Staffing Call, alongside such luminaries as Druthers News and “World Wide Rally for Freedom,” are listed as “friends of Freedom Pages” on the Freedom Pages site. On Telegram, it seems like the two entities share a workforce and developer.
“The Freedom Pages and Staffing Call are looking for volunteers in Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto to help beta test our app,” Berger wrote on July 26.
Balogh did not return multiple requests for comment. However, after VICE World News reached out, the site removed a badge it had on its homepage that indicated it was part of the university’s accelerator program.
Freedom Pages is just one of the latest efforts of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers to build insular communities, especially as social media giants begin to regulate conspiracies on their platforms. Like the far-right, anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdown conspiracy theorists have adopted social media platforms with lax rules, such as Telegram and MeWe.
More apps and sites built specifically for this community have been attempted before and are likely forthcoming. One woman tried to make a Tinder clone for anti-vaxxers looking to hook up or date called Unjected. The app received a small amount of press upon its release in the spring but, according to its website, was pulled down from the Google Play app store for spreading misinformation.
Berger and his cohort are pushing Freedom Pages hard on this network of Telegram groups but the uptake has been limited. Despite that, they’re moving forward with as much gusto as they can muster. They’re currently looking for beta testers for their app.
Specifically, they’re looking for people who have been “involved with freedom-related actions.”
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.