If you were traveling through downtown Vancouver this beautiful Saturday (January 22) afternoon, you may have seen quite a few placard-carrying protesters.
No, not the Vancouver Sudanese community raising awareness about the militia killing peaceful protesters agitating for civil rule and democracy. Nor was it the gut-wrenching collection of shoes, photos, and teddy bears representing the hundreds of dead children taken from their Indigenous homes and families.
It was not the homeless person asking for spare change because life sometimes delivers a tragic set of circumstances.
So if you got stuck in traffic this afternoon, you can blame the antivax protest. This massive group of mostly white people wove their way down Burrard Street, across Robson, and down Howe, telling the rest of us that we are being duped by a big government conspiracy. This was no small protest, and from the looks on Twitter, it was a global call to action against vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, and 5G.
They were a welcoming crowd, calling out to everyone on the sidelines to join the movement. It felt less confrontational than a smaller protest at Vancouver City Hall in the fall of 2021.
The truly shocking part was the scale of the crowd. From the corner of Burrard and Robson, as far as the eye could see, was a sea of antivaccine protestors. Many of the people on the sidewalks were in disbelief, all wearing masks, watching the protesters march past with not a mask in sight. It was further proof of the widening crack in society. It felt like an episode of the Twilight Zone or the back story of a Mad Max movie.
COVID has left us all exhausted. Everyone has a right to free speech, individual thoughts, and ideas, and many people here were demanding freedom. As far as I know, up until now, no one has taken away their right to choose whether to get vaccinated or not, though refusing to do so can keep people off airplanes, out of restaurants, and, in some cases, in a difficult state with their employers.
Restrictions are being loosened again in other areas, such as going to gyms, and by the looks of Robson Street, there was no shortage of shoppers.