Mini freedom rally held in Chatham

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Chatham-Kent’s supporting version of the Freedom Convoy took place in Chatham Saturday with participants driving a pre-arranged route through the city. Here, a volunteer named Cynthia directs members of the convoy at the corner of Pioneer Line and Baldoon Road, while waving a large Canadian flag. The event was held for people who couldn’t make it to Ottawa.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Temperatures were low but spirits were high during Chatham’s version of the Freedom Convoy on Saturday.

An estimated 60 vehicles, including pick-ups, SUVs, cars and a handful of big rig cabs, flew Canadian and American flags as they made their way through Chatham.

The mood was celebratory, with participants and supporters blowing their horns in support of the cause.

Many sported signs calling out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for an end to vaccine mandates.

“My body, my choice” and “F*$!* Trudeau” were the two most common themes.

Participants marshalled at the Walmart parking lot at 10 a.m. before making their way through the city, completing the route four times.

The Voice spoke to several supporters outside the 7-Eleven store at the corner of St. Clair Street and Grand Avenue, mere steps away from the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s COVID-19 testing centre.

A woman and man stood on the corner is a show of solidarity with the protestors.

A woman, who wished to only be identified by her first name, said she was in full support of Saturday’s convoy.

“I think it’s amazing what they’re doing,” Vanessa said. “I think it’s unfair what government is doing. Look at the mandates and look at what these truckers are fighting for.”

This trailer was hauled around Chatham on Saturday.

Vanessa said she’s not an anti-vaxxer, adding she’s against mandates.

“I’m in full support of the traditional Canadian values of freedom,” she added.

Her travelling companion, who asked to be identified as Garfield, said he is also not opposed to vaccines, emphasizing he’s “pro-choice” when it comes to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cynthia, who stood for an-hour-and-a-half directing traffic at the corner of Pioneer Line and Baldoon Road, remained cheerful despite the cold.

She said most of the people passing by honked in support of the Freedom Convoy, but added she did “get the finger” a couple of times.

At the same time, the freedom movement’s darker side also emerged.

One well-dressed man driving a late model Chevrolet car rolled down the window to offer his opinion to Cynthia as she waved an oversized Canadian flag.

“I hope there’s someone up there in Ottawa with a rifle,” the man said.

Vehicles line up in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 near Tilbury on Jan. 27, a number of which were part of the Freedom Convoy that went to Ottawa on the weekend. Many of the trucks, however, were simply hauling freight. An earlier accident on the highway forced a detour for much of the morning and early afternoon.

Chatham-Kent police were on hand to supervise the event.

Posts on social media indicate the event was organized by Zoe Buck.

However, Buck did not respond to a request from The Voice for comment as of press time.

A Freedom Convoy supporter expresses her appreciation for truck drivers headed to Ottawa. This image was captured Jan. 27 on the Harwich Road overpass as elements of the convoy rolled east on Highway 401. (Image courtesy Mark Benoit)

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