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Convoy protests continue locally and across Canada

More events in support of removal of COVID mandates and federal government held for second weekend in a row

ATHABASCA/BARRHEAD/WESTLOCK - While police in Ottawa, Edmonton and Coutts have their hands full with large numbers of protestors and their vehicles occupying city streets and an international border crossing, local protestors have been rather calm as they share their dismay with COVID restrictions, the federal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

In communities throughout the Town and Country region, protestors have gathered over the last two weekends, some in their big rigs, some in their passenger vehicles and others on foot, waving signs and flags. In Barrhead on Saturday, Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen was among them as they made their way to the Legislature in Edmonton. 

The vehicles lined up on the service road parallel to Highway 33, starting at about 8 a.m. with assorted vehicles parked on both sides of the street, from the splash park to just past Rodeo Drive. In addition to the convoy participants, about 20 people showed their support by waving signs and waving on the highway or mingling with the drivers before they left. 

Curtis Miedema, a Barrhead-area farmer who participated in both demonstrations over the last two weeks, spoke to the Barrhead Leader prior to the Feb. 5 event. He said the Barrhead convoy is one way locals who could not join the larger convoy to Ottawa can show their support. 

"Because these mandates have to end," Miedema said. "It is wrong how the government is mandating vaccines and vaccine passports. It is an infringement on rights. The government has overstepped what it should be able to regulate by taking away our freedoms." 

As for how he got involved in the convoys, Miedema said he learned through a friend who invited him to the events, but he noted most people learned about it through Facebook. 

"It has been so positive. These are family events, where people bring their kids, and everyone has been so kind and respective," he said. "All we want to do is get our point across to the government that these infringements on our rights need to end." 

Town of Barrhead mayor Dave McKenzie said that he did not know there was going to be a rally in Barrhead, noting much of the chatter on social media had truckers at rally points outside of Edmonton. 

However, he said he had happened to be out and about on Jan. 29 and was the convoy forming. 

"It was very accommodating, very peaceful," he said. "They wanted to draw attention to what they believe in, and they did it in a very respectful way." 

Vehicles in support of the ‘Freedom convoy’ also departed from Westlock Saturday morning, for the second week in a row. About 20 passenger vehicles and trucks sported signs protesting the government and COVID-19 mandates, including signs that read “media is the virus” and others calling for larger media outlets like CBC and CTV to “go back to China” while other vehicles sported the Albertan and Canadian flags, calling for freedom. 

“I am a young mother of two girls and I want my children to have the same upbringing as I did. So, to be able to have their rights and freedoms, to do whatever they want and live however they want, and I just want to peacefully unite everybody and stand up for all of our rights and freedoms,” said Westlock convoy organizer Morwenna Snider shortly before departing to Edmonton. 

Snider shared views with the larger convoy in Ottawa, calling for vaccine and mask mandates to be lifted and for Canadians to “unite and stop the divide” and for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign. 

“We’re not allowed to live as freely as we normally were,” Snider added. “I just want my kids to have the life they deserve.” 

Snider’s views were echoed by Dale Clow, another member of the convoy who called for freedom from the “unconstitutional” mandates. 

“I want to get freedom for the country, for everybody," said Clow. “We need to get the mandates and everything lifted and get the government out from where they’re at, they’re not doing nothing for us.” 

Athabasca’s Martin Brousseau has also been organizing like-minded individuals over the last two weeks. Six vehicles departed for the Legislature Jan. 29, while a slow roll through Athabasca drew many more. 

“I was surprised to see two vehicles from Fort McMurray, friends of mine from Bikers for Christ. As well as Boyle, Plamondon, and Lac La Biche. I certainly didn’t expect what I’m told is near or about 100 vehicles to participate, Brousseau said in an e-mail. 

With such success over the first weekend, Brousseau also set up slow roll events in nearby communities as well. 

“Going to the Boyle slow roll we had four vehicles leaving from Athabasca, several from Lac La Biche, Atmore and Grassland, for about 50 cars in all. There was one big truck, one tow truck and one car from Westlock,” Brousseau said Feb. 7. “Despite the planned route, participating residents wanted to drive through the downtown core, where we saw much support from residential balconies and afterwards business owners opened their doors for barbequed hot dogs and pizza.” 

He said he heard estimates of several hundred attendees.