Fireworks & Applause
Saskatoon to Regina – Day 1 on the road for Ted and Sally
Ted and Sally (not their real names) leave Saskatoon on Monday in a bobtail truck with two large Canadian flags streaming behind them. The side of their cab is decorated with red maple leaves and the words: “True North Strong & Free” – a phrase from Canada’s national anthem.
They head southeast toward the city of Regina. Normally a two-and-a-half-hour drive, this first leg of their journey is a piece of cake. The highway is called the Louis Riel Trail – named for a rebel hanged by the Canadian government in 1885. Viewed heroically by many then and now, considered a symbol of “strength and resistance,” 122 years after his death the next door province of Manitoba declared Louis Riel Day a paid holiday.
It’s dark as they approach Regina. Sally records a Facebook “Live” video showing members of the public standing out in the cold to greet them. Pickup trucks and other vehicles are parked along the highway, hazard lights flashing. People are waving, holding up signs and Canadian flags. There are people on overpasses, in snow-filled ditches, and at the end of driveways. A heavy machine operator waits in a parking lot, his bucket raised in salute.
On the radio, a trucker talks about hugging the center line so he doesn’t hit folks standing on the shoulder. Fireworks light up the sky. Sally says to Ted: “I am so impressed that these people all sat here and waited. And waited. Because nobody knew when anybody was coming through.”
Escorted by a police cruiser and pilot trucks bearing “wide load” signs, they approach their destination. Someone says goodbye on the radio. “It was an honour trucking with you guys this far, but I’ve got calving cows at home, so I’ve gotta do that.”
A few minutes later, a different voice signs off. “All the best to you guys, I gotta rock and roll. All the way back to Prince Albert, I go,” he explains, referring to four hours of driving due north.
The Convoy pulls into the Flying J, a service station that caters to truckers. In search of a parking spot, Ted circles the massive lot. It’s packed with rows and rows of trucks in a rainbow of colours. Clouds of exhaust float like balloons in the frigid air. It’s here that their arm of the Convoy is converging with trucks that left British Columbia and Alberta as many as two days earlier.
On the video, Sally says: “This will be the stop for the night. And, seven o’clock in the morning, we’re off and running.”
Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at ThankYouTruckers.substack.com. It 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.