Cornwall lawyer makes 100K trek to highlight vaccination personal choice

Cornwall lawyer Maurice Gatien (right) speaks with supporters ahead of his walk from Guindon Park in Cornwall, Ont. on Friday, Feb. 11, 2022. Gatien is walking 100 kilometers over three days to Ottawa to highlight personal choice and respect around the topic of coronavirus vaccines. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A city lawyer has set out on a 100 kilometer, three day walk to Ottawa to highlight personal choice and respect for each other in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Maurice Gatien set off from Guindon Park with a small group of supporters just before 10 a.m. this morning (Friday).

The 74-year-old has called the event Project Old Man Walking 100K after he says a masked assailant beat him in his Second Street West office this week and told him to “get vaxxed, you old motherf—er.”

The Cornwall Police Service confirms they were called to the area on Tuesday (Feb. 8) and are investigating the assault.

Gatien has been representing first responders, nurses and teachers on a pro bono basis, “who were treated like heroes for the first year (of the pandemic) and then treated like zeroes afterwards.”

The work has ruffled some people’s feathers. Gatien says his home address was posted online and someone banged on his door late at night plus his car was stolen from his South Lancaster home three weeks ago.

As for the people he represents, he says “personal choice is the preeminent thing” and none of his clients are anti-vaccine, “they are anti-vaccine for themselves.”

He says it’s “disconcerting” he was attacked for his beliefs and viewpoints and is “really truly disappointed” someone would resort to violence.

Gatien is behind the website Eastern Ontario Health Alliance, which calls itself a pro-choice group around health and body issues – namely COVID-19 vaccines.

As for his trek to Ottawa, Gatien plans to walk to the Crysler area today and then continue on Saturday with the hope of arriving in the capital on Sunday.

As a marathon runner, long-distance cyclist and inline skater, Gatien believes he’s prepared for the challenge. “It’s just a matter of one foot in front of the other in front of the other and being very determined.”

Gatien is also doing the walk for his 13-year-old grandson “and I’m concerned about his future and in a way I’ll be carrying his image in my mind as I’m doing this walk.”