A small rally was held in downtown Campbell River Wednesday to protest the B.C. government’s plan to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering designated businesses and events.
Lining the sidewalk along Shopper’s Row beside the downtown Cenotaph and Spirit Square at lunch time, approximately 40 people waved handmade signs and chanted opposition to a vaccine passport.
Rally organizer Lori Woodruff said she created the group to bridge the divide between the two sides, and that both the unvaccinated and vaccinated need to be represented in opposition to what’s being called vaccine or vaxx passports.
“My goal is too empower all people,” she said in a statement to the Mirror. “The division is palpable and people on both sides are tired, scared, angry, frustrated and feeling hopeless and helpless. This objective is simple and concrete. Stand together as Canadians. Unvaccinated – vaccinated.”
She said the passport proposal is dividing Canadians and people have become bitter, angy and divided.
“But I know we can rise above,” she said. “And we must.”
One rally participant not connected with the organizers, Maria Sanchez is with a group called Hugs over Masks.
“We’re protesting the potential coming in of the vax passports because if vax passports come in it’s the ultimate place of discrimination,” Sanchez said. “It will create a two-tier system, I mean, we’re no different, the people that haven’t been vaccinated will be no different than the Black people in the ’40s and ’50s and ’60s.”
It’s a fear-mongering situation, Sanchez said, “Our government is very tyrannical now.”
Sanchez lambasted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warning people against “following” them when they have, she said, no mandate to put in the restrictions and health orders they have.
Sanchez added that preventing a person from going to a grocery store or a restaurant because they don’t have a vaccine passport is discrimination.
“That’s like saying a handicapped person can’t go eat,” Sanchez said.
The province announced Aug. 23 that B.C. Vaccine Card will be needed to show a first dose of vaccine as of Sept. 13, with a second dose requirement as of Oct. 24. It will be required for entry to restaurants, including patios, ticketed indoor sports events and concerts, casinos, night clubs and high-intensity fitness classes. The proof of vaccination will also be required for organized indoor events such as weddings, parties, conferences and workshops.
The passports will not be needed for grocery stores, medical services and other essential services.
But despite those details, Sanchez was defiant.
We need united non-compliance to fight this, she said.
“We need to just say ‘No,’” she said.
Woodruff, meanwhile, said she intends to stand her ground to stop the passports.
“Time to stand up Campbell River,” she said. “Peacefully we will rise and grow to be a voice for freedom. We do this not for ourselves but for our children.”
This story has been updated to edit the headline for clarity and to add rally organizer Lori Woodruff’s comments.