Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that demonstrations were held in Canadian cities in support of France’s yellow vest protesters. In fact, the Canadian protests were only inspired by the French movement.
Crowds across Canada came out Saturday inspired by the “yellow vest” protests that have been ongoing in France for the last five weeks and have resulted in eight fatalities.
Donning the same yellow vests as French protesters, crowds came out in Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg, Okanagan, Moncton, Calgary, Saskatoon and Halifax with signs that read “Canada first,” a take on U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” slogan, as well as “Trudeau the traitor.”
A rally outside Halifax’s City Hall protested the United Nations’ Global Compact for Migration that Canada recently signed, which promotes safe and legal migration, as well as the federal carbon tax. The focus shifted at times to other hot topics, such as immigration and nationalism.
Protesters hoped for unity between both right- and left-wing activists, and to have their voices heard.
“What’s not being heard is our government should speak on the behalf of the majority, not just the minorities that are yelling louder,” protester James Hoskin said.
“[This is] about your freedom of speech.”
Meanwhile, in downtown Edmonton, hundreds of protesters came out for the second week in a row to protest the UN and the “global world order,” as well as the UN migration pact.
Global News staff say that some protesters called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “traitor,” yelled racial slurs and talked of “fake news.”
“[This is a] call out to all patriots, nationalists, Canadians in the Edmonton and greater Edmonton area to stand united against the United Nations and [the] global world order,” read a page on the website of the National Citizens Alliance, a political party affiliated with the rally.
The protesters were met by a smaller group of counter-protesters, who denounced the demonstrators as racists and fascists.
WATCH: Competing protests clash at Edmonton’s Churchill Square
A protester at a rally in Winnipeg had a vest with “Trudeau the traitor” written on the back, sharing a similar message as in Edmonton.
In Okanagan, protesters spoke in favour of free speech.
“Our rights and freedoms are being eroded,” said protester Alex Boyce. “Particularly freedom of speech, which is in danger of elimination.”
WATCH: Peaceful yellow vest protestors in Kelowna, B.C.
In Toronto, a group of about 60 yellow vest protesters gathered at Nathan Philips Square, but did not appear to have a cohesive ideology.
Global News reports that about half of the protesters had right-leaning values, while the other half were left-leaning. One protester affiliated with the left-wing ground Antifa, and was there to champion social justice.
All the protesters shared a disdain for the status quo.
WATCH: Paris Yellow Vest protests extend to Toronto, several other Canadian cities
Some chanted “Canada first” and others expressed anti-immigration messages. Controversial far-right former mayoral candidate Faith Goldy attended the rally.
Protesters there shared displeasure with the UN Migration Pact and a perceived lack of free speech.
However, bystander Victor Gledhill at Toronto’s rally who was recently in Paris said “it’s nowhere near the level of intensity” that was there.
The yellow vest protests began in France over a fuel tax hike introduced by French president Emmanuel Macron, and have since spilled into other European countries. They have come to represent a wider discontent with the political establishment, high cost of living and growing inequality.
Macron has since rescinded the fuel tax, and numbers at the protests have dwindled recently.
While the protests do not appear to be either right- or left-wing, the protesters have marked themselves by wearing yellow vests, which are mandatory for drivers in France.
WATCH: France ‘yellow vest’ protests spread to Canada
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