Hundreds of people opposed to COVID-19 mandates across Nova Scotia traveled to the province’s capital Saturday to take part in a protest in solidarity with the so-called “Freedom Convoy” taking place across the country.
Both anti-mandate protesters and counter-protesters gathered in Peace and Friendship Park in downtown Halifax Saturday afternoon as some of the convoy vehicles started to arrive.
Later in the afternoon, demonstrators began making their way to Grand Parade Square outside Halifax City Hall, where they chanted and waved signs and Canada flags.
“This isn’t about vaccinations, this is about the freedom to choose,” one protester, who declined to give her name, told Global News. “That’s what it’s always been about.”
Dena Churchill, a former Nova Scotia chiropractor who was fined in 2019 for making anti-vaccination posts, told Global News that the province’s plan to lift restrictions over three phases wasn’t good enough.
“We don’t want three phases, we want them to release it right now, there’s no spooky virus,” she said. “We need it lifted now so people can get back to work, we can start rebuilding our economy.”
While they were outnumbered by the anti-mandate protesters, there were also dozens of counter-protesters at the scene.
“We feel that mandates are important and taking care of our community and the most vulnerable is important and that mandates are allowing us to do that,” said Emma Norton, who showed up to push back against the convoy on Saturday.
“It’s very loud and obnoxious and I think it’s short-sighted.”
Robin Tress, who attended the counter-protest with Norton, agreed.
“My grandmother lives in a long-term care home, I have not been able to see her,” she said. “It’s horrible, I don’t like that, but we can’t just cancel the mandates because what will we do? People will be so vulnerable to this disease, people will die.”
Halifax Regional Police blocked off access to some roads in downtown Halifax in response to the protest.
Saturday evening, they said the rally and the convoy concluded and the downtown area was “largely clear” of convoy traffic.
— with files from Alicia Draus