- Kelowna Votes
Sean Tiessen gets emotional when he starts talking about his time in Ottawa.
"Never in my life have I seen anything like it. It was a carnival atmosphere of tens of thousands of people simply asking for our freedoms back," said the trucker from Grand Forks of the Freedom Convoy demonstration in the nation's capital over the weekend.
"It's been an amazing, emotional time and it's going to continue for me and a whole bunch of others."
Freedom Convoy is asking the government to rescind mandatory vaccinations for cross-border truckers and all other Canadian groups and to scrap all other COVID restrictions such as mask wearing and vax passports.
As a Southern BC organizer and road captain for Freedom Convoy, Tiessen's time in Ottawa isn't over.
"I'm able to stay because of Adopt-A-Trucker, a program organized by Ottawa locals who are billeting truckers," said Tiessen.
"It's amazing how these supporters are inviting strangers into their homes with open arms."
Tiessen drove with the convoy from Salmon Arm to Ottawa in an SUV, so he can't sleep in his vehicle.
Some of the truckers who drove their big rigs to Ottawa and are sticking around are able to overnight in the sleeper units of their semis.
"Some of us are staying until our demands are met, whether that's two weeks or longer," said Tiessen.
"It's already been a great success with all the awareness and support we've experienced."
While some politicians and groups have tried to dismiss the Freedom Convoy as a small fringe minority, it looks like the majority of Canadians agree with the truckers.
Angus Reid poll results released today shows that 54% of those surveyed want all pandemic restrictions to end and those that are at risk, or feel they are at risk, can self-isolate.
That 54% result, from a Jan. 27-28 survey, shows that the tide is turning in Canada.
A similar survey, Jan. 7-12, had 40% supporting an end of restrictions and letting people at risk self-isolate.
As an organizer and road captain, Tiessen meets with other truckers from Southern BC every morning and heads to Parliament Hill to continue to demonstrate for an end to COVID restrictions.
"I'm so proud of Canada and who we've worked together," said Pamela Rouse from Prince Rupert, who drove in the convoy.
"There wasn't a single arrest over the weekend. The police have been wonderful. We respect them and they respect us."
Rouse is still in Ottawa, but doesn't know how much longer she'll stay.
While Saturday's demonstration was billed as peaceful and there were no arrests, there were complaints of isolated Nazi and Confederate flag carriers and people disrespecting the National War Memorial and Terry Fox statue.
The GoFundMe campaign set up to support Freedom Convoys cover the cost of fuel, food and lodging is now at $9.3 million, well above its $1.1 million initial goal.
Tiessen said such funding means truckers can occupy Ottawa for the foreseeable future.
While the convoy and demonstration captured mega attention, it's unlikely to change anything.
The federal government says it won't back down on mandatory vaccinations for cross-border truckers.
And even if it did, the Americans have a similar vax policy for all truckers crossing the Canada-US border.
While other countries like the UK and Denmark and various US states have scrapped all COVID restrictions, BC is sticking with vax passports, masks, capacity and restaurant restrictions, no adult sports tournaments and no indoor organized events such as weddings or funerals.
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