One of three Eastern Quebec groups of truckers and supporters of the “Freedom Convoy” departed Friday from near the U.S. border south of Montreal, with about 50 vehicles heading to the meeting point of Vankleek Hill Friday night, before continuing on to Ottawa on Saturday.
Truckers and supporters mobilized across Canada after the government imposed in mid-January a vaccine mandate on truck drivers who cross the U.S. border. Thousands of truckers are now on the way to Ottawa for a mass protest to call for an end to all COVID-19 restrictions.
Many Canadian flags have been seen so far on trucks and being waved by supporters across the country. On the Quebec trucks, an equal number of Quebec flags could be seen, but for either flag, many were displayed or flown upside-down as a sign of dissatisfaction or to signal a nation in distress.
With some participants upset with how some politicians and media have portrayed them, saying the movement is composed of individuals holding bigoted views or seeking to resort to violence, some convoy supporters were reluctant to speak with The Epoch Times, but those who did had a clear message.
“We are supporting each other. We’re not racist, we’re here for freedom, end of story,” said Éric Perras, who’s been a truck driver for 19 years.
“It’s not fun what we’re going through, and it’s not just a trucker matter. It’s a freedom matter.
“We were free. They took away our freedom, they forced us to vaccinate, it’s not right. We want to live like we used to and keep the freedoms we had. It’s not us who are going to pay for this, it’s our children and our grandchildren. They’re going to have it much worse than us.”
Perras said he’s not personally affected by the vaccine mandate for truckers, but he’s participating in the effort for “everybody.”
Luc Leblanc, a trucker who’s been on the road for 22 years, was also not pleased with some of the media coverage so far.
“What’s important is not what people are saying, it’s what we’re experiencing,” he said, adding that those who try to tear down what the truckers are doing might be held responsible eventually.
“I’m here in support and solidarity and for freedom. This is not an anti-vaccine event, I’m three times vaccinated. It’s for the measures and all what we’re currently going through.”
One of the supporters at the rendezvous point was Suzanne Richard, who was holding the green, white, and red flag of the Quebec Patriots—those who took part in the rebellion against colonial rule during 1837–1838.
“I’m 73 years old and I stopped working at 72, so this health-care system, I paid for it. Nevertheless, I’m being ostracized for refusing their genetic trials. I want my rights, my rights to go where I please,” she said.
“It’s such a relief [to see truckers take a stand]. It’s been two years, the government is on my case, along with the media, who say nothing and hide the truth.”
Melissa Reynolds, another supporter, stood by the road holding a sign. “I’m here to show support to the many brave Canadians who are saying ‘enough is enough,’” she said.
“When we’re at the point where you can’t go shopping in a Walmart or a Costco without showing medical proof of vaccination, it’s gone too far.”
Reynolds said the issue is not about vaccination or non-vaccination, “it’s about just having your basic freedom, autonomy over your own body.”
“It’s not up to the government to impose what you put in your body.”