Hundreds of local residents cheer on truckers from Highway 10 to support ‘Freedom Convoy’

February 3, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Hundreds of Orangeville residents lined Highway 10 despite the -34°C wind chill last Friday (Jan. 28), holding up signs of support as a convoy of over 100 vehicles, led by big rigs, rolled through Town on its way to Ottawa.

In the morning, every few vehicles that passed by honked their horns in support of the protestors, until the convoy arrived around noon, a little behind schedule. Despite the hold up, hundreds of the convoy supporters didn’t budge and braved the cold for well over an hour, with a common goal of ending vaccine mandates, along with other COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’d like to see people get their jobs back. It doesn’t matter the vaccinated or unvaccinated, they need their jobs back. They need to provide for their family,” said Krystin Lucas, who supported the “Freedom Convoy” along Highway 10 and noted that she’s double vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I don’t see what the point is with putting all these restrictions on people over the vaccine when you can still contract the virus and pass it on.”

The trucks in the local convoy started in Owen Sound and joined a larger convoy of vehicles in Belleville before heading to Parliament Hill. There they joined tens of thousands of truckers and up to 100,000 people through the weekend and continuing this week, protesting vaccine mandates.

What originally spurred the “Freedom Convoy”, which has raised $10 million in two weeks from over 120,000 donors on GoFundMe, was Justin Trudeau’s vaccine mandate for truckers.

Up to 26,000 or about 20 per cent of the 160,000 American and Canadian cross border truckers are being taken off the roads because of the COVID-19 mandates, estimated the Canadian Trucker Alliance (CTA). The CTA, which represents 4,500 truckers, said it condemns the protest or any demonstration on public roadways, highways and bridges out of disruption and safety concerns. 

Parents upset with restrictions on youth

Many parents were lined along Highway 10, supporting the truckers with their children, and all of the ones who spoke with the Citizen noted the main reason they are there is to get life back to normal for their kids and grandkids.

“I have lost my job during COVID, my kids can’t be in sports. My daughter has lost school time. Everything about this has been completely frustrating,” said Lucas, who was supporting the local convoy roll with her mother Terri Vitanyi, that’s also vaccinated. “We’ve all followed the rules, and it’s time to open everything back up.”

Vitanyi stressed that she doesn’t want to see another shut down of the schools, forcing her granddaughter who’s in kindergarten to lose more of her early years to the pandemic.

“They’ve lost two years and kids are dropping their grades, they can’t do anything online because they’re not understanding it. They need to be in person,” she remarked.

Brent Hostrawser, who’s a father of two, was lined up behind Highway 10 to support the truckers rolling through Orangeville, and said his main message is to leave the kids alone.

“They’re the ones hurting the most out of all of this,” he said.

Hostrawser noted that he wants youth sports and in-person schooling return back to normal.

He also shared his support for the convoy’s truckers that headed up to Parliament Hill on Jan. 29.

“Just a big thank you to the truckers for doing this. Someone’s finally standing up for everyone,” said Hostrawser.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated standing against mandates

Meanwhile, Vitanyi, who emphasized that she’s double vaccinated for COVID-19, told the Citizen she’s tired of the negative rhetoric around those who made a different medical choice, and didn’t get the jab.

“People are saying the unvaccinated are creating more people being sick. That’s not true. I could get it, and I could give it to you, doesn’t matter whether I’m vaccinated or not,” she said. “The only thing is that hopefully, with the vaccinations, you won’t maybe get as sick. But that’s a person’s choice, that’s an individual’s choice, whether you get it or not.”

Her daughter Lucas also noted that doctors shouldn’t be stripped of their licenses for delineating from the narrative being shared by the Ontario government and/or Public Health on COVID-19. Currently doctors can get their licenses removed or be severely disciplined for having a different opinion.

“They went to school for like 20 years to become what they are… they shouldn’t be getting in trouble. Everybody’s health issues are different,” she noted.

Melissa Cairney, fellow supporter of the trucker convoy that came down Highway 10, who was there with her children, said she is there to support the right to choose, with respect to COVID-19 vaccines.

“We just feel that, this is a pandemic, for sure. Everything is as it seems, but freedom of choice is the most important thing, and I just won’t give it up,” Cairney told the Citizen. “Vaccinated or unvaccinated I think people should have the right to choose, especially with the situation, with a vaccine that doesn’t stop the spread. I feel that it’s medical discrimination.”

Cairney said if the vaccine worked as they do traditionally, and eradicated the illness, she could see things differently, but that unfortunately isn’t the case.

Convoy supporters proud to be Canadian again

Meanwhile, Derek Barnett, who was supporting the convoy roll along Highway 10, said the division through the pandemic motivated him to get outside and take a stand.

“I think Canadians are fed up and we just we want our country back. We want Canada to be what it is, a free loving country, welcoming everyone of all ethnicities, origins and just where we’re a caring peaceful people. That’s what we want. That’s all we want. We just want to live our lives and be left alone.”

A common sentiment, shared by Barnett and countless others, was that for the last two years he wasn’t very proud to be Canadian, but the Freedom Convoy has reinvigorated his Canadian spirit.

“I thought that Canada was asleep and not paying attention, and now all of a sudden we’re leading the world,” said Barnett, noting several other countries have started trucker convoys of their own as a form of protest. “I feel patriotic again, I feel Canadian again, I feel happy again.”

Cairney said, “It’s been two years, and I haven’t felt proud to be Canadian until this started… It’s just amazing to see all the people that felt alone come together, and people who have taken the vaccine stand up to support the other people’s freedoms as well.”

With respect to how the convoy was being covered in the mainstream media at the time of the interview, drawing comparisons to the Jan. 6 Insurrection in the United States, Barnett noted there’s always going to be people who say inflammatory things or have negative intentions, and it shouldn’t be representative of the entire convoy.

“We should take those people separately, and let them have the consequences,” he said.

“I believe in Canadians; I believe that they are a peaceful people. I don’t know how they [the media] are trying to spin this any other way. It’s insane.”

Cairney shared a similar perspective.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a good person, and I would never support something that was nefarious or whatever, but I just can’t understand how people can’t see what this is about,” she told the Citizen.

Meanwhile, Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown has condemned the Freedom Convoy.

“I think there are people that are listening to misinformation. and I just wish everybody would just get vaccinated and accept that this is the proper course of action,” he said.

OPP’s observations of the convoy

Dufferin OPP say they did not encounter any issues with the people participating in the convoy or anyone that assembled to view the convoy.

No roads were closed but police did momentarily block traffic in Shelburne and Orangeville in order to facilitate safe movement of the general public and the convoy through Dufferin County.

“The OPP respects the right of everyone to have freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Our role is to ensure public and road safety and to keep the peace,” said Jennifer Roach, community liaison for the Dufferin OPP Detachment.

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