Local truck convoys draw crowds across B.C.

Thousands filled the grounds of the B.C. Legislature Saturday afternoon for a demonstration against pandemic-related mandates in front of the B.C. Legislature. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Thousands filled the grounds of the B.C. Legislature Saturday afternoon for a demonstration against pandemic-related mandates in front of the B.C. Legislature. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Penticton protester in support of the ‘Freedom Convoy’. (Logan Lockhart, Western News)Penticton protester in support of the ‘Freedom Convoy’. (Logan Lockhart, Western News)
Show of support for the trucker convoy. (Dan Ferguson/ photo)Show of support for the trucker convoy. (Dan Ferguson/ photo)
Hundreds turned out Saturday morning, Jan. 29, to show support for the trucker convoy from B.C. that has arrived in Ottawa to demonstrate against vaccine mandates. (Dan Ferguson photo)Hundreds turned out Saturday morning, Jan. 29, to show support for the trucker convoy from B.C. that has arrived in Ottawa to demonstrate against vaccine mandates. (Dan Ferguson photo)
Vehicles honk their honks as they support the protesters at Stuart Park in Downtown Kelowna (Photo - Jordy Cunningham)Vehicles honk their honks as they support the protesters at Stuart Park in Downtown Kelowna (Photo - Jordy Cunningham)
Hundreds turned out in Langley Saturday morning, Jan. 29, to show support for the trucker convoy from B.C. that has arrived in Ottawa to demonstrate against vaccine mandates. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)Hundreds turned out in Langley Saturday morning, Jan. 29, to show support for the trucker convoy from B.C. that has arrived in Ottawa to demonstrate against vaccine mandates. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
A procession of vehicles, protesting vaccine mandates, passed through Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo the morning of Jan. 29, bound for a rally in Victoria. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)A procession of vehicles, protesting vaccine mandates, passed through Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo the morning of Jan. 29, bound for a rally in Victoria. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Smithers’ residents turned out to show solidarity with the Freedom Convoy 2022 by the hundreds. (Deb Meissner photo)Smithers’ residents turned out to show solidarity with the Freedom Convoy 2022 by the hundreds. (Deb Meissner photo)

As the national freedom convoy arrived in Ottawa, several smaller convoys were held across B.C. Jan. 29.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in communities like Kelowna, Smithers, Prince George, Chilliwack, Langley, Princeton, Terrace, Prince Rupert and Victoria among others.

In Vanderhoof, there were several protesters in trucks and vehicles that gathered in front of the former J &S restaurant before departing for the CN Centre in Prince George.

Several communities also saw convoys travel through their communities en route to other areas.

In the Lower Mainland, a convoy departed from Langley for a slow roll convoy through downtown Vancouver ultimately ending in Chilliwack. On Vancouver Island, a convoy departed from Campbell River and headed south toward Victoria for a protest on the grounds of the Legislature building.

Meanwhile, a convoy worked its way through the Okanagan, beginning in Vernon bound for the Osoyoos-Oroville border crossing.

The movement was sparked by the ending of an exemption for unvaccinated truckers to travel into the United States.

Earlier in January, both Canada and the U.S. announced restrictions that would require truckers to be vaccinated to travel across the border.

That sparked a backlash against not only against the new policy, but against all vaccine mandates in place at the federal and provincial levels.

Protesters have expressed a strong desire to remove Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from government, bring an end to all vaccine mandates and all public health orders related to COVID-19.

Protesters have also expressed a distrust against vaccination, though not all protesters are unvaccinated.

Each of the protests were loud and proud, but largely peaceful with only one incident of aggression reported from Princeton where a counter-protester traded insults with people in the convoy crowd.

Protesters in Ottawa drew ire for parking overnight at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and cenotaph, some drivers were ticketed and had their vehicles towed.

Some protesters adorned a Terry Fox statue with signs saying “mandate freedom” and an upside-down Canadian flag.

In response, Fox’s hometown mayor, Brad West of Port Coquitlam, says Fox is a national inspiration and a unifying force, adding that, whatever the cause, no one should “appropriate his legacy” or touch his statue.

The Canadian Truckers Alliance released a statement saying that a “great number” of protesters at events across Canada have “no connection” to the trucking industry.

The Alliance called on all truckers involved in the protests to conduct themselves responsibly.

“Your behaviour today will not only reflect upon you and your family but the 300,000 plus fellow Canadians that, like you, take great pride in our industry.

Please remember this important responsibility you bear today in delivering your message responsibly but also the impact your actions will have on the image of the majority of your colleagues from coast-to-coast who do not share your opinion but share your passion for the industry and country.”

Though many protesters have claimed that their demonstrations are proof they represent a majority of Canadians, 83.75 per cent of Canadians have received at least one dose of vaccine.

~With a file from Aman Parhar