Video: Massive Crowds Gather in Ottawa as Trucker Convoy Protests COVID-19 Mandates, Restrictions

By Omid Ghoreishi
Omid Ghoreishi
Omid Ghoreishi
Senior Reporter
Omid Ghoreishi is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
, Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal. Twitter: @NChartierET Gettr: @nchartieret
, Limin Zhou
Limin Zhou
Limin Zhou
Limin Zhou is a reporter based in Ottawa.
and Rahul Vaidyanath
Rahul Vaidyanath
Rahul Vaidyanath
Journalist
Rahul Vaidyanath is a journalist with The Epoch Times in Ottawa. His areas of expertise include the economy, financial markets, China, and national defence and security. He has worked for the Bank of Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., and investment banks in Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles.
January 29, 2022 Updated: February 2, 2022

OTTAWA—The Parliament Hill area got filled to the brim as legions of truckers and other demonstrators protesting COVID-19 mandates and restrictions on Jan. 29 converged in Ottawa, their final destination after driving throughout the week in a convoy from all parts of the country.

“It’s like a Canada Day, but for the real reason that we celebrate Canada,” said Andrew Broe, a truck driver of 20 years from Trenton, Ont., who parked his rig by Parliament Hill.

Epoch Times Photo
Trucks parked on a street by the Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
People gather in Parliament Hill as the trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates and restrictions stages demonstrations in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Limin Zhou/The Epoch Times)

“This is a day we’re going to reunite and come together and have freedom.”

Broe said he’s in Ottawa to ask politicians to listen to people’s demands.

“I’m here to fight for the freedom of not just the truckers, but for everybody that lives and resides in Canada.”

Many protesters say they expect the protest to extend beyond the weekend.

There was a festive mood on the Hill on Jan. 29 despite the frigid -20°C weather, as people of all backgrounds from across Canada came to support the call for an end to COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.

“It’s vibrating here,” said Terri Haydar, a retired corrections officer who travelled to Ottawa from Toronto.

Haydar said on the way to Ottawa, every overpass was filled with people waving the Canadian flag as trucks passed by.

“It’s been absolute bedlam,” she told The Epoch Times.

Berdj Papa, a truck driver from Laval, Que., said it’s important to rally together in order to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “to listen to the people.”

“We’ve been in lockdown for too long … we needed a voice from the people,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
A protester participating in the truck convoy protest against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions holds a sign on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)

Sylvain, a military veteran wearing his unit’s patches who would only give his first name, said he joined the protest to “liberate my country.”

Amberly Quakegesic said she travelled 900 kilometres from Chapleau in northwest Ontario because she couldn’t trust the reporting in media or social media, and wanted to see what is happening for herself.

“We don’t know what to trust,” she said.

Quakegesic, who is First Nations and works with the First Nations community, said she didn’t want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but “was pretty much forced into it so that I could approach First Nation communities and do my actual job.”

“Now they’re talking about … if I have to get a booster to keep my vaxx-pass, then what?”

She added that she sees both vaccinated and unvaccinated people joining the protest in Ottawa.

“Everybody’s here for their own reasons,” she said.

Epoch Times Photo
Trucks and other vehicles parked on a street by the Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Limin Zhou/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
People gather in Parliament Hill as the trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates and restrictions stages demonstrations in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)

Ginny Bruneau, a Cold Lake Dene First Nations who travelled from Edmonton to join the protest, said she was overwhelmed with the number of people coming to Ottawa.

“So many people have that sense that Canada is standing up for freedom,” she said.

Bruneau said she takes issue with what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said about the protest, saying, “the small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa, or who are holding unacceptable views that they’re expressing, do not represent the views of Canadians who have been there for each other.”

“It’s not like that at all,” Bruneau said. “It’s like all of Canada. And the world is watching us. Canadians are standing together for one and for all.”

Rob Jonkhans said he joined the protest for his children and other children and the impact the restrictions have had on them.

“I think about all the other kids, who are not in a spot like my kids, who are in worse situations, whether abuse or mental anguish, depression—you need to be active, you need to get out and live your life,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters participating in the truck convoy protest against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Noé Chartier/The Epoch Times)

Jonkhans said those who are critical of the protest should come out and “feel the love.”

“[I can’t remember] the last time I ever felt this as a Canadian, it’s been an embarrassing ride the last couple of years,” he said.

As the crowd behind him broke out in a rendition of O Canada, Jonkhans said “no honest person” can deny the good vibe in the crowd.

Freedom Convoy 2022 began as a protest against the federal government’s vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing the U.S.-Canada border but has since expanded in scope, with many joining the movement to protest various COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.

The first convoy started from the West Coast on Jan. 23, with more trucks joining from different parts of the country, coming together to protest in the nation’s capital this weekend and into next week.

Epoch Times Photo
People’s Party of Canada Leader and former cabinet minister Maxime Bernier takes part in the trucker protest against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Protesters participating in the truck convoy protest against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)

GoFundMe page set up to support the convoy had collected more than $8 million as of Jan. 29.

While GoFundMe reviews the distribution plan for the funds, organizers said that the crowdfunding platform released the first batch of $1 million, which will be used to support drivers with costs of fuel, food, and lodging.

Due to the anticipated size of the protest, local police asked for backup from nearby forces. Ottawa police say they have officers from Toronto, Durham Region, London, as well as the Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP.

Jared Gnam and The Canadian Press contributed to this report. 

Omid Ghoreishi
Senior Reporter
Omid Ghoreishi is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal. Twitter: @NChartierET Gettr: @nchartieret
Limin Zhou
Limin Zhou is a reporter based in Ottawa.
Rahul Vaidyanath
Rahul Vaidyanath is a journalist with The Epoch Times in Ottawa. His areas of expertise include the economy, financial markets, China, and national defence and security. He has worked for the Bank of Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., and investment banks in Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles.