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Photo of Mennonites in buggies not related to trucker vaccine protest in Canada

January 27, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Photo shows Mennonites joining the “freedom convoy,” a protest against the vaccine mandate for truckers in Canada.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo shows Old Order Mennonites going to church outside the Waterloo region in Ontario on Jan. 16, photographer Michelle Graham confirmed to The Associated Press.

THE FACTS: Social media users this week shared a photo of a group of Mennonites riding in horse-drawn buggies, with the false claim that they were joining a convoy of truckers heading to Ottawa, Canada to protest the vaccine mandate for cross-border drivers.

“This makes my heart melt. Mennonites from St-Jacobs are UNITING to join the freedom convoy Truly amazing! God bless all of you beautiful people!” a false post on Facebook containing the photo claimed.

The false claim also circulated on Instagram and Twitter.

But the photo depicts members of the religious order headed to church – a common sight in the area – and is not related to the protest, said Graham, a sports photographer based in Canada. Graham took the photo outside the Waterloo region in Ontario on Jan. 16 and posted it to social media the following day.

“I took it and a full series of shots from that morning, as seen on my website and various social media platforms,” said Graham in an email to the AP. “Zero relation to any political protest or movement. Just going to church.”

According to AP reporting, truck drivers began heading to Ottawa this week to protest a new Canadian mandate requiring truckers entering the country to be fully vaccinated as of Jan. 15. The United States has imposed the same requirement on truckers crossing the border in the other direction.

Some members of the far-right have also latched onto the convoy, also dubbed the “Freedom Rally.” Canadian police disclosed that they are preparing for potential violence linked to the demonstration.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform. Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536