Honking horns, waves, shouts, cheers and placards greeted Freedom Convoy 2022 when it rolled past Maple Creek on Monday afternoon.
Between 60 and 80 vehicles were parked above a snow-covered embankment near the Maple Creek intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway.
The convoy of trucks and cars had left British Columbia on the weekend on a cross-country trip to Ottawa, protesting the federal government’s new vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, which came into effect on January 15.
Canadian truckers now must show they have had two doses of an mRNA vaccine, or one dose of a Johnson & Johnson jab, to avoid tough testing requirements and a 14-day quarantine.
On Monday, the convoy held rallies in Calgary and Medicine Hat, before heading to Regina. It rolled past Maple Creek at about 3.50pm, more than two hours later than originally expected. Vehicles came in waves, sometimes grouped together, sometimes spaced out.
There were huge cheers when Tim Udal, a local trucker, his blue “Double V Trucking” vehicle adorned with a Canadian flag, joined the procession. His intention is to go all the way to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on January 29.
One of those watching was Bill DeRepentigny, commonly known in Maple Creek as Wild Bill.
He made a late decision to travel with the convoy to Swift Current.
“I’m so glad I did,” he said, adding that he got a clear indication of the extent of support for the truckers.
Almost everywhere he looked, there were groups of supporters – in Piapot, alongside the highway, and in Swift Current.
Wild Bill said he detected widespread COVID restrictions fatigue.
“We got vaccinated, we did everything we were supposed to do, and we still can’t go out and do what we want.”
The rules had proved extremely divisive, he said, and did not appear effective.
Those who disagreed with mandates should not be made to feel like “lesser persons”, he added.
“I think people are so tired of it all,” he said.
One of the supporters at the Maple Creek intersection was Gabriel Chudleigh. Her placard read: “Path Of The Heart.”
Asked why she had attended, she said: “It’s about freedom.”
Claire Pollock arrived with her husband, Ross; the couple are ministers of the Diamond C. Cowboy Church in Maple Creek.
“I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all the truckers for doing what we cannot do,” Claire said.
Describing truckers as a brotherhood and sisterhood, she praised them for standing up against government in a unified way.
For full story and more photographs of the Freedom Convoy’s passage near Maple Creek, read Thursday’s News-Times.