Hundreds Gather on Parliament Hill to Commemorate First Anniversary of Freedom Convoy Protest

By Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
and Limin Zhou
Limin Zhou
Limin Zhou
Limin Zhou is a reporter based in Ottawa.
January 28, 2023Updated: January 29, 2023

Hundreds of people gathered on Parliament Hill Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Freedom Convoy protest against COVID-19 restrictions last winter.

The day was festive, and reminiscent of the atmosphere when the convoy first arrived in the nation’s capital at the end of January 2022. Music was played, and people were seen waving the Canadian flag to commemorate the truckers’ movement that occasioned people of all backgrounds from across the country to call for the abolition of vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictive public health measures.

“Freedom is not easy,” Johnny Rowe, co-organizer of the event, said in a speech. “There will be roadblocks, and that’s okay.”

“We are gonna go up and over, we’re gonna go underneath, we’re gonna go around, but most of all, we’re gonna go through.”

Another speaker invited people to “tell their story.”

“It’s the same story is your story, your struggle,” Rowe told the crowd.We all see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s burning bright, and it comes from within. We’re gonna win my brothers, my brothers and sisters. We’re gonna win.”

Epoch Times Photo
Hundreds gather on Parliament Hill to celebrate the first anniversary of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa on Jan. 28, 2023. (The Epoch Times/Limin Zhou)

The event was co-organized by several different groups, according to Rowe, who told The Epoch Times he’s a member of “Wellington Street Regulars,” a local group of “freedom people.”

The mood was upbeat as the crowd sang songs including “O Canada,” mingled with one another, and chanted “freedom.”

Epoch Times Photo
Friends attend the celebration to mark the first anniversary of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa on Jan. 28, 2023. (The Epoch Times/Jonathan Ren)


Epoch Times Photo
People gather on Parliament Hill to celebrate the first anniversary of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa on Jan. 28, 2023. (The Epoch Times/Jonathan Ren)

‘Witness the Truth’

Father Anthony Hannon, a Catholic priest, told The Epoch Times that he came to the event to “witness the truth and to support and bless everyone.”

“Because they’re doing the right thing standing up for freedoms and opposing government overreach. That’s why I’ve been coming to all the freedom rallies since 2020, and the truckers’ convoy,” he said.

Hannon paid tribute to the truckers whose weeks-long protest was eventually quashed by the authorities.

“The mainstream media and the government are sending a message that there’s something wrong with the truckers’ convoy when it’s quite the opposite,” he said.

“Not only was the truckers’ convoy and the freedom movement peaceful [and] peacemaking, it’s uniting Canadians, and that’s what it’s about because Canadians are peace-loving, kind, gentle people.”

Ottawa resident Michael Bartlett echoed that sentiment. He also attended last year’s protest, and said stories about it in the media and allegations made at City of Ottawa press conferences were “very heartbreaking because everybody here was just peaceful and loving and hugging.”

“I just think that a lot of the people who were complaining, a lot of the opposition, were informed by the mainstream media because they weren’t here, they weren’t seeing what was happening,” he said.

He said the convoy protest didn’t constitute an emergency even though there were “swearing and some angry voices,” but it had “never been physically violent.”

“There was no building destroyed. Nobody was dying,” Bartlett said. “Other than exhaust coming from the trucks and honking, that was about the only physical thing that you could kind of hear, see, and smell.”

Bylaw Warning

A strong police presence monitored the event. Some attendees had altercations with the city’s bylaw officers on regulation issues.

Ottawa By-Law had issued a notice warning that any violations to their regulations, which include unnecessary noise, installation of structures on city property, public urination and defecation, open-air fires, littering, lighting and discharging fireworks, would be ticketed.

Epoch Times Photo
Ottawa police keep an eye on the celebration of the Freedom Convoy’s first anniversary, on Jan. 28, 2023. (The Epoch Times/Jonathan Ren)

The convoy began as a protest by cross-border truck drivers opposed to the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. It turned into a much larger movement after thousands Canadians across the country began joining in or voicing their support for ending the various COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.

At a press conference last Jan. 26, prior to the convoy’s arrival in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the protesters as a “small fringe minority … who are holding unacceptable views.”

On Feb. 14, 2022, Trudeau became the first Canadian prime minister to invoke the Emergencies Act, in order to quash the protest in Ottawa and similar ones in other parts of the country, and grant banks the power to freeze the accounts of convoy organizers and supporters without a court order.