Listen: Revelstoke highway ‘freedom’ protest participants share their perspectives

We interviewed protesters at a Feb. 12, 2022, 'freedom' rally held on the Trans-Canada Highway in Revelstoke for our latest Revelstoke Mountaineer Podcast. Hear what four of the protesters had to say about their reasons for rallying here.

Anti-COVID-19 rally participants wave to passing motorists on the Trans-Canada Highway in Revelstoke on Feb. 12, 2022. We interviewed four people for a podcast episode, all of whom are pictured here. At far left wearing a purple vest and waving iridescent wings is Renee Shaw. In the foreground at centre wearing a black tricorne hat, orange shirt and black leather vest is Shawn Sanders. At centre-right in a bright turquoise is Sally Miller. At left, standing behind the barbecue and wearing a grey sweatshirt, black vest and black fedora hat is Micheal Ferrera. All of the interview participants also posed for individual portraits. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

There was a lot of action on the pandemic-related protest rally front in Canada February 12, 2022, including here in Revelstoke, B.C.

POLITICAL SUPPORT: On Jan. 29, Kootenay-Columbia MP, Rob Morrison, retweeted this message in support of the Coutts, Alberta border blockade. Hours before on the same day, Alberta premier Jason Kenney had publicly condemned the blockade, calling it illegal. Revelstokemountaineer.com has reached out to Morrison, who is the Member of Parliament for the riding including Revelstoke, many times, including calls to his offices here and in Ottawa, emails to his address, emails to his constituency staff, and direct messages on social media. We’ve requested an interview, but so far Mr. Morrison hasn’t availed himself, despite our many requests to answer why a Conservative MP would be supporting an illegal blockade designed to hurt commerce, issuing only a one-sentence response. We will continue to make ourselves available for an audio interview to let Mr. Morrison tell his Revelstoke constituents what he’s thinking. Photo: Twitter image of Rob Morrison’s Twitter account

In Ontario, protests continued in Ottawa, and police began their effort to clear a blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, a key commercial link between Canada and the U.S. that is vital to the automobile manufacturing industry; the blockade has led to auto plant closures there. A border blockade continued in Alberta, and a new one popped up at the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C.

There were many similar protests across the country, variously described as anti-mandate, freedom or pro-trucker convoy.

In Revelstoke, protesters gathered just west of the Columbia River on the side of the highway, waving Canada flags and protest signs.

The protest started around noon and eventually grew to just over 35 people, with some people coming and going. We left just before 4 p.m., when organizers said it was scheduled to end.

Many passing motorist honked their support. At one point we counted honks from the first 20 tractor-trailers to come by, with 13 honking and seven not. Intermittently, pickup trucks drove by with Canada flags flying from the back.

There have only been a few COVID-19-related rallies related to the pandemic in Revelstoke in Grizzly Plaza. They have been peaceful, relatively small and mostly unannounced. Some supporters also gathered near the highway when the truck convoy to Ottawa came through town.

Protesters gather at a Feb. 12, 2022 ‘freedom’ rally on the Trans-Canada Highway just west of the Columbia River. In the background, a lenticular cloud forms over Mt. Begbie. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Prior to the protest, which was nearby a key bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway, we reached out to the Revelstoke RCMP, who said they respected peaceful protest and had reached out to the protester organizers ahead of time. RCMP cruisers drove by the protest frequently.

To cover the story, we opted for an audio format, producing the Revelstoke Mountaineer Podcast episode, which you can listen to via the link below.

The protesters are mistrustful of the media, saying so many times in our interview, so we told the protesters we’d be doing roughly five-minute audio interviews with each, putting them together into the podcast.

One of our conditions was that people had to use their names. Many in the crowd didn’t want to speak, but others did.

Shawn Sanders, who was one of the leaders of the protest, volunteered to go first.

After that, protester Renee Shaw was quick to volunteer.

Next, we addressed part of the crowd, asking for volunteers. Michael Ferrera, who was manning the barbecue at the time, volunteered next.

Finally, Sally Miller, who had stood close by and listened as Renee Shaw was interviewed, liked what she heard and volunteered to go next.

The interviewees had lots to say. Our act of interviewing the protesters doesn’t endorse their views or the factual claims that people made on pandemic-related items; rather, it’s intended to be a window into the perspectives of some Revelstoke community members that is meant to help listeners understand pandemic-related events happening around them in the community, such as the protests.

Listen to our podcast episode here

Listen in the webpage or click through to SoundCloud player to access the episode.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.