Thursday, June 20, 2024
Screen capture from a video Mark recorded around 9 am, Friday January 28th, 2022. (Click image to view video.) The long white sign reads: ‘Camionneurs, Montmagny vous remercie,’ which translates as: ‘Truckers, Montmagny thanks you.’ That community is located an hour north of Quebec City.
Guest ContributionsOpinion/ColumnTrucking

Every Beautiful Thing You’d Ever Seen

‘A thousand people standing on an overpass and you driving under it’

by Donna Laframboise

Read Part One, here

By the time Mark, a Nova Scotia commercial fisherman, joined the Freedom Convoy the pandemic had dragged on for nearly two years. By then, many Canadians had accumulated an ample store of resentment, injury, and outrage.

His wife, Joanne, remembers the time he got stopped by the cops after an electronic highway sign advised him he’d left his ‘zone.’ The cops told him he faced a stiff fine, she says, before they bothered to find out he was driving live lobster to Halifax and therefore had the government’s blessing to be on the road.

For the four months prior to the Convoy, both of them – free citizens in a free country who’d declined to take COVID vaccines – had been forbidden to dine inside restaurants, coffee shops, and fast food outlets. The outdoor patios of such establishments remained off limits, along with fitness centers, public pools, arenas, libraries, and museums. When Mark’s section of the Convoy pointed its headlights toward Ottawa on January 27th, 2022 both he and Joanne were barred from attending weddings and funerals – even if those events were held outdoors.

Nova Scotia abandoned these discriminatory practices a month later – announcing on February 23rd that proof of vaccination would no longer be required beginning February 28th. What happened in between? The trucker protest happened.

“So anyway, off I went,” says Mark. “There was a bunch of ’em going. There was a lot of trucks in it.” Their 1,400-kilometer/870-mile route traversed New Brunswick and Quebec before crossing into Ontario.

His commercial truck is registered in Nova Scotia, but each additional province requires its own permit. He dutifully purchased them, yet all the way to Ottawa the weigh stations that inspect such permits were closed, he remembers.

So I got to New Brunswick, the first stop that we made. And I pulled into the place. I think it was a restaurant there, maybe a service station. And this young lady come up to the door, banged on the door. And she said, ‘Can you get out?’

I said, ‘Yeah, I can get out.’ And she just embraced me, just thanked me. She said she lost her job cuz she wouldn’t get vaccinated. She had two kids at home, a single mother. And she gave me a hundred dollars.

I said, ‘I can’t take that from you.’

‘No, you’re gonna take it because I will feel worse if you don’t take it.’

It was unbelievable. And everywhere we stopped there was people doing that kind of stuff.

When asked what he’ll always remember about the protest, Mark doesn’t hesitate: “Those overpasses. It was just phenomenal. Every beautiful thing that you’d ever seen. A thousand people standing on an overpass and you driving under it.”

He blew that train horn each time he approached an overpass, he says. “It was something you’d never seen before and you’ll probably never see again. I mean, the whole country come right together.”

*****

Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at  ThankYouTruckers.substack.comIt is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.