A number of northern B.C. truckers and supporters of the “Freedom Convoy 2022” rolled through Smithers Jan. 22 on their way to Ottawa for a giant nationwide rally slated for Jan 29.
The convoy departed Prince Rupert around 7 a.m. the same day and travelled along the Hwy 16 stopping in Terrace, Smithers and Houston where they picked up more convoy members before arriving in Prince George around 7:45 p.m. to stop for the night.
Pamela Rouse, a member of the convoy, greeted people at the rally in Prince George with hugs, and said they had plenty of support on their drive. They will be joining others from B.C. for the rally to be held at Ottawa’s Confederation Park.
In the Lower Mainland, several hundred demonstrators protesting vaccine mandates lined Hwy 1 and the 264th St. overpass in Aldergrove Jan. 23 to show support for a convoy of truckers leaving for Ottawa from Vancouver.
They carried signs and banners with messages that included ‘thank you truckers’, ‘end vaccine tyranny’, ‘end all mandates’ and “honk for the convoy for freedom.”
As the trucks passed by, some chanted “freedom.”
One of the demonstrators, Frank from Maple Ridge (who declined to give his last name), said he was there “just to make a stand for freedom of choice.”
Stephanie Rempel, from Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood, attended with her parents, Henry and Linda, who had signs that said “freedom” and “we will not comply.”
Stephanie told the Langley Advance Times she attended because she wants “to end these mandates, all this COVID crap. I want all this to stop.”
Henry agreed, saying “it’s just insane.”
Linda said she was “just tired” of it all.
Abbotsford resident Nick Shelton, who described himself as “vax-free” and attended with his daughter, Dakota, said the issue for him was one of personal choice.
“No medical treatment can be mandated on anybody,” he declared.
“People have got freedom of choice.”
All truckers who cross the border from Canada into the U.S. must be vaccinated to avoid a 14-day quarantine under a new policy passed Jan. 15.
Up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular trips across the Canada-U.S. border would likely be sidelined as a result of the vaccine mandate in both countries, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations.
Some of those truckers have organized a “Freedom Convoy” that left from Vancouver for Ottawa on Sunday. Another convoy is set to leave from Enfield, Nova Scotia on Jan. 27.
Organizers have called for truckers from across Canada to join.
– With files from Deb Meissner