Hundreds join Orangeville’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ to Queens Park over weekend

February 10, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Canadian flags and signs calling for an end to COVID-19 restrictions/mandates filled the Canadian Tire parking lot (95 First Street) on Saturday morning.

Close to 100 vehicles and half a dozen big rigs were lined up for the local “Freedom Convoy”, which left for Queens Park around 11 a.m. on Feb. 5.

There, participants of the convoy met with thousands of protestors to voice their opposition to COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.

Trevor Cormier, organizer of the Orangeville meetup, who led the local convoy to Queens Park, told the Citizen one of his key motivations for organizing it is to bring back some normalcy for kids.

“My niece was born a bit before the pandemic and she doesn’t even know a normal life. She doesn’t know what it’s like to go to school without a mask. She doesn’t even know what it’s like to be a kid,” he said. “That’s the one big thing, this should really be about the kids. Think about their futures. We’re raising a generation right now that is going to be afraid of their own shadow.”

Darryl Kuepfer, who has children of his own, was one of the attendees at the local convoy on Saturday.

He stressed that “truckers feed cities” and people have to support the ones impacted by the recent cross-border vaccine mandate, which sparked the ongoing demonstrations in Ottawa. Kuepfer also shared his anger about how the government has handled the pandemic at large.

“This [pandemic] has gone on for two years, the government had two years to figure out what to do, and they have figured out zero, so we need to end all mandates and get on with life,” Kuepfer remarked.

Carol Blake and Lisa Carney, who travelled to Orangeville from Kincardine to join the local convoy on Saturday morning, were in agreement that all COVID-19 mandates must end.

“We’re here for freedom for everyone and to have our own choice,” said Blake. “People are losing their jobs over this. It’s not right.”

Both Blake and Carney noted they were thrilled with the turnout in Orangeville, adding that its encouraging to see everyone coming together in such large numbers.

There was around 300 people in attendance.

Marshal Bobechko, who came out to support the local “Freedom Convoy”, said Canada has almost taken on being passive as a national identity, and it’s time to stand up.

“It’s time we let that kettle boil over,” he said. “Good things are coming from these protests. Alberta is opening up. Saskatchewan is opening up. Quebec has stopped the tax [for unvaccinated people].”

Bobechko added, “Now the health official for Ontario is saying maybe we should look at the effectiveness [value] of vax passes.”

He also commented on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s negative portrayal of the Canadians currently protesting at Parliament Hill because of the actions of a small handful of people who held up hateful symbols or signs among tens of thousands of peaceful protestors.

Bobechko recalled Trudeau’s Town Hall on immigration in Quebec City on Jan. 18, 2018, where an upside-down Canadian flag with a swastika in the middle was held up by one attendee. As reported by City News, Trudeau calmy said “Thank you for coming sir,” as the man yelled in his direction and was escorted out of the room.

This incident wasn’t used to demonize all of those who attended the immigration Town Hall meeting and Bobechko said the same should apply for the “Freedom Convoy” protest in Ottawa, which he feels has been slandered due to a few bad actors.

Meanwhile, several vehicles lined up in the Orangeville convoy received hand-written thank you letters in the parking lot of 95 First Street from an attendee who supported their journey to Queens Park.

Protestors in Queens Park speak about impact of restrictions

The Citizen spoke with several attendees of the convoy that arrived on the streets surrounding Queens Park last Saturday. The demonstration saw tens of thousands of protestors joining the voices of those in Ottawa, calling for an end to pandemic related Jessica Rosebush, who attended the Queens Park protest, said her father recently received a booster shot for COVID-19 and died shortly after. She believes his death was a result of the booster and her motivation for coming out to the “Freedom Convoy” is so her children aren’t coerced into receiving the jab.

“It’s all love and light here,” she said. “So many people have been offering their condolences, offering me hugs, offering me love, putting their hands on me – asking first with consent – and praying for me.”

Rosebush added, “It’s been the most beautiful thing. I’ve been bawling all day, not because of my loss, but because of all the love that I feel here amongst all these people.”

Rebekah Alto, who was operating a free food table at Queens Park, providing snacks and drinks to hungry protestors, as well as the homeless, said she observed a similar energy.

“Today has been absolutely phenomenal. Everybody’s been so friendly, very supportive. Everybody’s dancing, there’s kids holding their signs, there’s different races, different religions, there is absolutely zero violence and no hate speech, no hate crimes,” Alto noted. “It really is what Canada is all about, and that’s leading with love.”

She told the Citizen that for her, the “Freedom Convoy” movement is about reuniting Canadians.

“We’ve been segregated and separated for the last two and a half years, and it’s just so beautiful to see everybody come together,” Alto said. “This isn’t about vaccinated and not vaccinated, which is what the MSM [Mainstream Media] is really pushing, that this is anti-vaxxers – we’re not. It’s really just about having the freedom to choose. It’s about having the freedom to travel, to work, to put food on the table for families, and to just live a normal life.”

Alto, like many attendees of the Queens Park protest, said her Canadian spirit has been reinvigorated by the “Freedom Convoy” protests, which started in Ottawa on Jan. 29.

“In the last two years, it’s been quite depressing and quite dark, and we’ve all wanted the light at the end of the tunnel. And I can honestly say that coming out to these protests and peaceful rallies, and seeing everybody dancing, having a great time – it’s the happiest I’ve ever felt being a Canadian.”

There was a group of about 200 counter protestors present at Queens Park, however none of the individuals the Citizen asked to speak with were willing to comment on the record.

One counter-protestor’s sign read, “Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities isn’t freedom, it’s adolescence” while another said “Don’t confuse inconvenience with coercion”.

There were two arrests made on Saturday during the demonstration at Queens Park. Toronto Police in a tweet said a 22-year-old man was arrested for mischief and assault with a weapon after allegedly throwing a smoke bomb and a 34-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly threw dog feces at another person during the protest. The 34-year-old man was arrested for assault with a weapon.

It is unclear if the man who hurled the feces was a counter protestor or a regular protestor.

Other than the two arrests, Toronto Police said the demonstration was peaceful.

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