Massive Crowds Gather on Parliament Hill as Trucker Convoy Arrives in Ottawa
Massive Crowds Gather on Parliament Hill as Trucker Convoy Arrives in Ottawa

By Omid Ghoreishi, Noé Chartier, Limin Zhou and Rahul Vaidyanath

OTTAWA—The Parliament Hill area is filled to the brim as legions of truckers and other demonstrators protesting COVID-19 mandates and restrictions converge 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.

Trucks parked on a street by the Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)
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.”

There is a festive mood on the Hill despite the frigid -20°C weather, as people of all backgrounds from across the country continue to arrive 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.

Sylvain, a military veteran wearing his uniform 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.

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.”

Freedom Convoy 2022 began as a protest against the federal government’s vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. 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.

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)

A GoFundMe page set up to support the convoy had collected close to $8 million as of the morning 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.

Jared Gnam contributed to this report.

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