Saskatchewan

Opposing protests about public health mandates remain peaceful at Legislative Building

People from two opposing protests are outside the Legislative Building in Regina Saturday afternoon — one group calling for an end to COVID-19 public health measures while the other asks they remain in place.

Concrete barricades have been put in place to prevent vehicle access

Demonstrators on the edge of Albert Street in Regina within view of the Legislature Building are calling for an end to public health mandates. A smaller group of counter-protesters are asking the government to maintain current measures. (Laura Sciarpelleti/CBC News)

People from two opposing protests are outside the Legislative Building in Regina Saturday afternoon — one group calling for an end to COVID-19 public health measures while the other asks they remain in place.

At about 2 p.m., there were hundreds of demonstrators asking for an end to mandates while a smaller group countered their calls. So far, the conflicting protests appear to be peaceful.

Concrete barricades currently block vehicles from accessing the Legislative Building. 

Some anti-mandate protesters arrived in Regina as part of several convoys. Organizers say they plan to stay in the area until all public health restrictions in Saskatchewan are lifted. 

Demonstrators calling for an end to mandates are carrying signs with messages such as "Unmask the Hoax" and "Vaxx Useless."

Protesters on the edge of Albert Street, where a line of concrete barricades has cut off access to the Legislature Building, bear signs with anti-vaccine and anti-masking sentiments. (Laura Sciarpelleti/CBC News)

Premier Scott Moe has already promised to lift all restrictions soon.

Kristen Dube, an anti-mandate protester who drove to the event from Saskatoon, says she is vaccinated and her partner is not. 

"I think people wearing masks, people not wearing masks, vaccinated, unvaccinated as a couple, we can still unite our country and we can still stand for more than just COVID," Dube said.

"We need to support our hospitals. We need to support our health-care workers that have been on those front lines. And I think that the money that's currently being spent on COVID passports alone should be allocated to things that are more useful to us as a community and as people of Canada and Saskatchewan."

Aran McCallen also made the trip down to Regina from Saskatoon. 

"I believe in freedom of choice. I don't think that the government should be able to force you to do anything," McCallen said. 

Pro-mandate protesters

At the same time, a second protest called Take Action Against COVID is calling for the provincial government to do the opposite and maintain the public health measures that Premier Scott Moe is planning to abandon. 

Organizers of that event say the premier is doing away with mandates to "please anti-vax extremists." They say the vaccine passport has to be kept so that businesses can keep both customers and staff safe. 

"We need public health measures to protect people and our economy in the middle of a pandemic. We need a provincial government that listens to its own experts and does not abandon us or our children to Omicron," organizers said in an email notice about the protest. 

A smaller group of demonstrators is asking the government to reconsider their promise to end public health measures outside the Legislative Building. (Laura Sciarpelleti/CBC News)

"We need leaders who will not let our medical system burn down around us by letting critical-care doctors and nurses burn out at record speed."

Signs carried by pro-mandate demonstrators say "Protect healthcare workers" and "Spread [love]."

Pro-mandate organizers are calling for the premier and his ministers to resign if they do not maintain COVID-19 mandates and restrictions in the province. 

"I'm here because I want the freedom protesters to know that they don't represent me … I believe that with the rights that we do have … we have responsibilities to everybody else that lives in our country, our province, our world," said Krista Notenboom, a pro-mandate demonstrator from Regina. 

"I'm frustrated about the restrictions and the pandemic, and continuing to have to wear masks. But I'm not willing to not look after my fellow citizens to get rid of my mask."

Police are on hand to maintain order among the people gathered outside the Legislature Building on Saturday. (Laura Sciarpelleti/CBC News)

Lukas Miller, a health-care worker who showed up to back COVID-19 restrictions and mandates, says he wants Moe to listen to doctors and scientists. 

"Basically every day of my job since COVID started has been doing research on COVID-19 — efficacy of vaccines, how much it spreads — and I see a lot of that information, and I don't really know how Scott Moe is coming up with the decisions he has, based on what I've seen," Miller said.

"Now, I'm not an expert, but neither is he, so I think people need to listen to our medical community a little closer."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is a journalist for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. Laura specializes in health-care, arts, environmental and human interest coverage. She holds a master of journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

With files from Dayne Patterson

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