A “gratitude gathering” was held on Vancouver’s Jack Poole Plaza on Monday night to thank health-care workers and others working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizer Michelle Fortin said she hoped the rally would counter the message of those protesting against COVID-19 mandates, who have disrupted traffic in the Lower Mainland for four straight weekends.
“I’m really excited for tonight because I think we need to take some of the air out of people that just aren’t reflective or representative of most Vancouverites or most Canadians,” Fortin said.
Fortin said among the workers to be thanked are truck drivers who have kept shelves stocked during the pandemic.
Dozens gathered to listen to speeches and show their support on Monday night.
Diana Day, lead matriarch for the Pacific Association of First Nations Women, said the association would share songs at Monday’s rally as a way of “putting unity in community.”
Speaking to CBC’s The Early Edition before the rally, Day expressed concern over the federal response to the Ottawa protests in comparison to the government’s handling of the Oka crisis and the 1995 Gustafsen Lake standoff.
She also voiced concern that the Emergencies Act, which was used in response to the convoy protest in Ottawa, could be used against Indigenous land defenders.
Fortin said she was part of counter-protests as thousands took to the streets in opposition of pandemic mandates and restrictions in Metro Vancouver earlier this month.
On Saturday, one of B.C.’s busiest border crossings to the U.S. was closed to traffic after protesters against vaccine mandates blocked access. Surrey RCMP said most demonstrators had left the area near Pacific Highway crossing by 8:40 p.m. PT.
More than 90 per cent of British Columbians aged five and older have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine while more than 85 per cent have received two doses as of Friday, according to recent numbers from the provincial government.
8:30The Gratitude Gathering
Fortin said Family Day is the perfect time to thank the majority who have made sacrifices during the pandemic to keep their communities safe.
“We’ve got this. We’ve got each other,” she said.
“We’re going to continue to hold on to each other by supporting each other with masks and the science that I think really has led us to what is, I hope, almost out of the pandemic.”