Bitcoin Fundraising in Adversarial Environments

Lessons from the Canadian Trucker Protest

The keynote speaker at the BTC Prague 2023 conference is Ben Perrin, an educator and host of the BTC Sessions YouTube channel. In his talk, titled “The HonkHonk Story: Bitcoin vs. Canadian Government,” Perrin discusses his experience with bitcoin fundraising in adversarial environments druing the Canadian trucker protest in early 2022. He highlights how bitcoin was utilized as a fundraising tool amidst governmental financial repression and shares insights into the technical and practical aspects of raising funds in adversarial environments.

Important Topics

  • Background and motivations behind the Canadian trucker protest.
  • Governmental response and financial repression tactics.
  • Fundraising challenges with traditional platforms like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo.
  • Successful use of bitcoin for fundraising and the creation of “HonkHonkHodl.”
  • Issues faced with bitcoin fundraising and lessons learned.
  • Tools and practices for effective bitcoin fundraising.
  • The importance of privacy and security in adversarial environments.
  • Recommendations for future fundraisers using bitcoin.

Background of the Canadian Trucker Protest

Ben Perrin begins his keynote by setting the context of the Canadian trucker protest that took place in early 2022. He explains that as much of the world started to lift COVID-19 restrictions, Canada continued to enforce stringent measures, leading to widespread discontent. The protest was initiated by long-haul truckers who were forced to either comply with government mandates or lose their livelihoods. This movement quickly gained momentum, drawing support from various sectors of society and culminating in the largest protest in Canadian history.

The truckers embarked on a convoy from Vancouver to Ottawa, braving severe winter conditions, with temperatures plunging to -30 degrees Celsius. The protest symbolized a significant pushback against perceived government overreach and drew massive public support.

Government Response and Financial Repression

Perrin describes the Canadian government’s reaction to the protest, which included invoking the Emergencies Act. This measure granted the government extensive powers, akin to a state of martial law, allowing it to freeze bank accounts and seize assets of those involved in or supporting the protest. This draconian response aimed to suppress the movement by financially crippling its participants.

The initial fundraising efforts through traditional platforms like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo faced severe challenges. GoFundMe froze the funds and attempted to redirect them to other causes, only reversing this decision after facing a class-action lawsuit. Subsequently, GiveSendGo also encountered issues when TD Canada Bank froze the funds transferred to Canadian banks, making it impossible for protest organizers to access over 10 million Canadian dollars.

Bitcoin to the Rescue

In light of these financial blockades, Perrin and a group of supporters turned to bitcoin as an alternative fundraising tool. They created “HonkHonkHodl,” a platform to raise funds in bitcoin for the truckers. This initiative successfully raised over 1.3 million dollars in bitcoin, a significant portion of which was distributed directly to the protesters. Perrin highlights that bitcoin was the only digital fundraising method that bypassed governmental restrictions and reached the intended recipients.

However, the process was not without its challenges. Approximately 30% of the funds were seized due to a series of missteps and technical issues, which Perrin takes responsibility for and aims to rectify through his presentation.

Lessons Learned and Recommendations

Perrin delves into the specific tools and techniques that could have improved their bitcoin fundraising in adversarial environments and ensured better security and privacy. He emphasizes the importance of using BTC Pay Server for receiving donations, as it cycles new bitcoin addresses for each donor, preventing easy tracking of funds. He also advocates for setting up a lightning node, which facilitates small, international donations efficiently.

Privacy techniques, such as using Sparrow Wallet for coin mixing, are crucial to break the traceability of funds. Perrin advises using a multi-sig wallet coordinated with Nunchuck Wallet to distribute the control of funds and reduce single points of failure. He also stresses the importance of preparing care packages with clear instructions for recipients on how to access and use bitcoin, a method that proved effective during the Canadian protest.


Perrin concludes by encouraging the audience to familiarize themselves with these tools and techniques to be better prepared for future adversarial fundraising situations. He provides a QR code linking to a playlist of video tutorials on setting up BTC Pay Server, running a lightning node, and using Sparrow Wallet for coin joining, among others. He urges individuals to educate themselves and be proactive in learning these skills to avoid the pitfalls they encountered during the Canadian trucker protest.

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