Ottawa residents were shocked to see Nazi and Confederate flags being paraded through the city's downtown core this past weekend mere steps from Parliament Hill during the trucker convoy protest, but for Black Canadians such images came at a particularly sensitive time.

Tuesday marked the beginning of Black History Month when Canadians normally reflect on the legacy of Black Canadians and the leaders who paved the way for equality and justice. But as Quebec MP Greg Fergus said, “these are not normal times."

In an emotional speech in the House of Commons Wednesday, the MP for Hull-Aylmer denounced the hateful symbols that were freely displayed without intervention.

“Let's not mince words. The Confederate flag is a symbol for slavery. Whips deformed Black bodies, forced labour, mangled limps, torture almost always preceded lynchings,” the MP said. 

Fergus, who is also chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, went on to say that he assumed few people today tolerated the displaying of the flag in the name of freedom of expression, but wondered who else would support it. “Without realtime denunciations, how am I to know?

"That's what scares me.”

He added that even 188 years since the abolition of slavery in Canada, in some people's eyes, “I am not equal nor should I be free. This is why I celebrate Black history, Black Canadian history, every February and throughout the year," he said to a round of applause in the House. 

Fergus shared a video of his speech on Twitter to mark Black History Month in Canada, expressing his support for people’s right to peacefully protest.

“The only way to eradicate all forms of hate in our society is to not passively stand by when it happens,” he said in his post.

Videos of protesters flying the Confederate flag in the nation's capital were spreading on social media over the weekend.

Videos also showed the Patriote flag, used by Francophone rebels in the 19th century but has since been adopted by far-right ultranationalists from Quebec in the modern era. Others held up signs touting COVID-19 and vaccine conspiracy theories and misinformation.