Monday, July 15, 2024
In Manitoba, Hutterites lined the roads in many places to thank the Truckers' Convoy. Photo: Sally
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The Freedom Convoy rolls through Hutterite Country

As the Freedom Convoy rolled through Manitoba, Hutterite colonies expressed extraordinary support

by Donna Laframboise

Back on the road the next morning, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Shaky video shot by Sally from the cab of the truck shows a long line of people on the shoulder of the highway cheering on the Freedom Convoy as it departs Regina, Saskatchewan.

Out on the wide open prairie small crowds have gathered at side-road after side-road. Older adults, families, youngsters in snowsuits. In Sally’s words, “You know you’re Canadian when you’ll stand outside and wait for the Convoy at minus 31.”

The sign reads “God keep our land glorious and free.” Photo: Sally

Leaving Saskatchewan behind, they cross into Manitoba. Soon they’re approaching the city of Brandon. She reads aloud some of the signs people are holding up as the truckers pass by:

  • We support you
  • Thank you
  • No to mandates, yes to freedom

Down the road a bit, there’s a burst of profanity on the radio. “Some guys are having a problem watching their mouths, after being told to tone it down,” she murmurs.

Rolling through Manitoba on that second day, many of those cheering at the side of the highway are Hutterites, the women clad in ankle-length dresses. Known for keeping to themselves – and for remaining aloof from politics – the enthusiasm this community is expressing for the Convoy is extraordinary. The message on one of their signs: “We support freedom. Go with God.”

Some miles later, Ted’s on the phone. “My wife packed a bunch of food,” he says. “I think we should have left it all at home.” Members of the public have been donating windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze for the trucks, he reports. During pit stops, he says, “we’re walking in there with no face masks and we’re not being hassled at all…It’s awesome.”

On the eastern edge of Portage la Prairie, people are gathered around a tractor. The bucket’s raised, with waving young kids inside. A few minutes later a pickup in the adjacent lane pulls slightly ahead of their truck. It’s flying Canadian flags and blasting out music from a huge speaker loaded into the back. Reaching up, Ted gives a friendly tug on his horn. The pickup slows and drops behind them again.

“It’s just a big job trying to get everybody lined up, out of parking lots and onto the road.” Photo: Sally

As they approach another group on the side of the road, Sally wonders how long they’ve been waiting. The Convoy has an approximate schedule but, in her words, “We haven’t been on time yet. It’s just a big job trying to get everybody lined up, out of parking lots and onto the road.”

A van with British Columbia license plates, flying a Canadian flag from a hockey stick, passes them. Although she wasn’t filming at the time, Sally tells us police blocked an intersection earlier so the Convoy could proceed through the traffic lights uninterrupted.

Ted is on another call. “I’m hoping to be back at the end of the first week of February,” he says – meaning roughly 12 days hence. “That’s what I’m planning, but we’ll see what happens.”

The above photos are all screen captures from video shot by Sally (not her real name). They document events in different Manitoba locations on January 25, 2002. Four distinct gatherings of Hutterites are shown here. Sally’s footage recorded many others.

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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.

Part 1: Fireworks & Applause
Part 2: Food by the Boxful
Part 3: Hutterite Country
Part 4: Wondrous Winnipeg
Part 5: Wildest Ride Ever