As the national freedom convoy arrived in Ottawa, several smaller convoys were held across B.C.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in communities like Kelowna, Smithers, Chilliwack, Langley, Princeton and Victoria among others. 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. Several convoys were held in Northern communities as well like Smithers and Prince Rupert.
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 was 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 Terry Fox Foundation is proud to continue Terry’s mission of funding cancer research. Terry believed in science and gave his life to help others. Thank you to all of our supporters who help us work toward realizing Terry’s dream of a world without cancer. 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/5MSky1YfVM— TerryFoxFoundation (@TerryFoxCanada) January 29, 2022
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.