For the second Wednesday in a row, a rally took place in Williams Lake to protest the vaccine passport, this time with more than 300 people of all ages participating.
Before making their way to Herb Gardner Park below city hall, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, the walkers gathered on the north side of the curling rink at 1 p.m. and listened to half a dozen speakers.
Hattie Deyo, one of the rally organizers, and local business owner, addressed the crowd.
“I’m not here because I’m angry, I’m here because I care,” Deyo said, with many in the crowd responding, ‘yes.’ “I care that our local business community is being put in the position of having to discriminate against their own customers.”
She said friends and community members are facing unemployment and financial ruin because of a personal health choice that they have the right to make.
“I care that this mandate will be the final straw in forcing local businesses to close their doors permanently,” Deyo said.
There was also a Cariboo-Chilcotin Electoral District petition people could sign that read: “We, the undersigned are demanding an Electoral District-wide referendum to determine if businesses and facilities will require proof of vaccination prior to entry.”
Many of the walkers carried signs and a few wore costumes, including one man clad in a full-body yellow plastic protective suit.
His sign read ‘Imagine some still think this is about a virus!’
Another one of the rally organizers, Naden Parkin, said a big part of his participation was that his wife is pregnant.
“With the restrictions of the vaccine passport she is not going to have as much freedom herself and I have concerns even about the FDA approval of the vaccine,” he said.
“This isn’t anti-vaccination, this isn’t anti-mask, this anti-anything that people might say, I’m here for the freedom to choose,” Parkin said. “We want people who are vaccinated on our side as well.”
Laura Cunningham, another one of the organizers, said she works in health care and without a vaccine she will be out of a job because of the provincial mandate stipulating everyone working in long-term care or assisted living complexes must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 12, 2021.
“I just want a right to choose what’s best for me and my personal health choice,” Cunnigham said, adding she does not feel comfortable with the vaccine right now.
Mayor Walt Cobb came into Herb Gardner Park to chat with members of the crowd.
“I came out to hear the issues,” he said. “If by chance we get some kind of opportunity to make decisions at the council table, about masking, non-masking, vaccines, non-vaccines and passports, no matter what they will be, I’ll have heard both sides of the story.
Two blocks away on Third Avenue South, a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic was underway at Paradise Cinemas and there was a lineup of people waiting outside.
The clinic was to be open from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.
A “Picnic in the Park to Protest,” event is planned for Sunday, Sept. 19, at 5 p.m. in Herb Gardner Park.
“Pack the family up for a picnic in protest of the newest health mesures. Let’s remind everyone what unity looks like,” reads a flyer that was handed out at the rally Wednesday.