Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Embedded with the truckers. Repairing their rigs. Telling the world what he sees and hears.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, has dismissed the truck drivers’ freedom convoy now protesting in Ottawa. He says these people are a “small fringe minority” expressing “unacceptable views.” But the public response that the convoy encountered enroute tells a starkly different story.
Another Canadian named Justyn is a mechanic from small town Alberta. He’s part of the convoy. When a rig breaks down, he helps get it back on the road.
Below are four of his Facebook posts from the past few days. In each case, I’ve lightly edited his remarks, and have added a bit of bolding. Please grab a cup of coffee, find yourself a seat, and spend 10 minutes discovering what this convoy looks like from the inside:
Hello everyone. We made it to Thunder Bay [Ontario] today. I have a hard time finding words to express the momentum on this convoy. The convoy is 100kms long and growing all the time. The support people have is overwhelming.
Coming into Winnipeg [Manitoba] yesterday was pretty emotional. The com radios went pretty quiet because no one could find words to express what we felt. There was people packed on the shoulders of the streets. Cars parked and people for miles and miles on the ring road around the city. The horns never stopped honking!
On the four lane going out of Winnipeg we thought it was hammer down time, but ended up driving 5 to 20 km/hr for hrs and hrs. People had campfires going in the ditches, fireworks, a sprayer with booms out with big Thank you! signs on the booms. Crane trucks with the booms up with signs, lights flashing, and flags. The shoulders of the four lane packed with people and cars. Overpasses packed with people.
Tons of families, little kids all bundled up. Everyone was jumping, dancing, waving signs, flags, and flashlights. All in -30° [Celcius, -22° F].
Seeing how happy kids are, their smiles make you a little emotional at times. This is how Canada is supposed to be. This morning going into Ontario, the support is amazing. The laneways, crossroads, little towns – same things happening. Constantly speeding up and slowing for groups of people. I feel like I am cheating with adaptive cruise.
When we came to Thunder Bay they had a big area plowed off. Tents put up, big fires and an insane amount of food. Beef on the bun, spaghetti, sandwiches, coffee, donuts and you name it. They brought pallets of windshield washer fluid for everyone. Very humbling how kind everyone is.
This is what freedom feels like. I felt normal for once, not alone like the last two years. Thanks for all the support, it is much appreciated!! Well I’m hitting the hay. Cheers. Thanks.
24 hours later, he checked in again:
Hey everyone, we took Hwy 17 out of Thunder Bay today. The convoy continues to grow even more. We are split into two convoys going different routes to cover more ground, so more people can see and experience it.
17 had a fair amount of construction and power lines being built. When passing the equipment the excavator booms and loader buckets had been lifted as high as possible in salute to the convoy. Operators all waving and honking the horns.
Most of the day was without cell service coming around Lake Superior. Have to say it’s a pretty amazing view, Ontario is a very beautiful province. Kinda want to do some holidays out here sometime!
On 17 there is little towns and rest stops and I am pretty sure everyone that lives there was out on the road. Companies along the highway had their service trucks and equipment out with all the lights flashing. Every laneway on the highway had people at it with signs, flags, and hearts all being waved. Most truckers that we met on the road are flashing their lights and honking.
The snowplow drivers smiles’ you can see from aways back. People are happy and you can actually tell they are!
It was quite the sight looking in the mirror once it was dark, looking back down the larger hills. One lane empty and the other full of truck headlights as far as you can see! And trust me she’s a long ways, can’t find the end.
I am really testing the endurance of Ford’s massage seats out, haven’t given them a break since the trip began. I don’t brag that to the truckers though. Haha. I’m not used to these long trips. It’s exhausting. I really do have to say thank you and I appreciate every trucker on the road. Their job isn’t easy providing for this country!
Listening to these guys on the radio they are a family. There is nothing they would not do for each other! Sure get some chuckles from them sometimes.
Coming into Sault Ste. Marie (yes, I had to google how to spell that like five times now) the welcome was insane. It was like the whole town was having a big party. People everywhere waving flags, signs, and jumping. Streets packed on the sides and even had people in the middle of the road.
It really is overwhelming, the cheers and all the horns going all the time. You hear ‘wow, unbelievable’ on the radio ALOT! I do wonder how long my horn and flashers are going to work after this. Feel like I have hit the horn a billion times.
It shows how important this is to the Canadian people. They are united and want freedom and a voice and to be able to choose. Had to do some work on trucks tonight so it’s 2 am here now so I am going to get some sleep. Cheers and we will keep on trucking tomorrow. Not sure if you can call what I am doing trucking. Peace!
Friday afternoon, he posted another update:
Hey everyone, today has been such a high for me. The people we meet and the truckers in the convoy have such compassion for everyone!
I did not run with the convoy most of the day today. One driver’s truck broke down so we got parts and got him all fixed up. As we drove we got to talk a bit on the radio. The people in this convoy are very humble. They are here just as I am for our friends and family. That our kids can grow up in a world like we did!
The views we have are so united. There is a lot of fear in the world and it is very broken. Just like the flags on our trucks as we drive getting tattered and torn. Would like to encourage people to not judge. Be respectful.
When we got to the hotel last night, went in to get our room. Could tell the ladies up front were stressed about masks. I was asked to put one on so I did (which is not my view, but out of respect for them). After talking with them for awhile, they don’t want to be wearing one either and are extremely nice. They have families to support.
Explained some of the giving and emotions we are having on the trip, how people are feeding us, housing us, fueling us, and so much more. Then a guy I did not know put his [credit] card on the counter and paid for my room. The kindness astonished the ladies. This is what this is about. Unity, peace, love to each other!
There is fear in this world, I hope people can look past and not judge each other for being [vaccinated] or [not vaccinated], wearing a mask or not wearing a mask. Be kind and respectful. We don’t know their situation.
I tell you this is a trip of a lifetime. The highs and lows are exhausting. The encouragement of everyone messaging me is overwhelming. I have been getting messages from people all over the world: Germany Japan Australia Europe.
I find myself tearing up as I drive and then be like: grow up, you baby! Sorry I can’t get back to everyone. I get non stop calls and messages. I do appreciate it. I just get busy trying to keep guys on the road!
I pray that this would be peaceful all the time. This is so much bigger than one individual. Even if you’re not religious, a little prayer never hurts! Stay safe and thank you all so so much! [bold added]
This was posted around midnight last night:
Hey everyone. Hope all is well at home. Things are going well here. We are all hunkered down in Ottawa. Been working on trucks, keeping them going and finding parts.
Pretty big party at Parliament. Lots of guys BBQing, and having fun. Some of the guys got hotels and other stay in their trucks.
The giving is unbelievable. Everyone has been fed. There is people that have brought in port-a-potties [toilets] on trailers. People have brought socks, and clothes. When something is needed it is supplied! It is really amazing, the unity.
I know there is a lot going around on mainstream [media] creating fear. Have to remember: Canada is united, and fear is how it is dismantled. Be positive and don’t believe everything you hear.
Thanks for all the messages and support! They mean a lot! I don’t think my [pickup] truck has ever been this dirty, kinda makes me sick. Haha! Going to need a good bath when it comes home. Ontario salt is like no other.
I am going to get some sleep. We will update you tomorrow. (Sorry sometimes I am working on stuff and it gets busy, so I can’t get a post out to let people know how it’s going). Have a good night.
My own father spent his working life as an auto mechanic. Northern Ontario winters involved lots of crawling underneath school buses in -40 degree weather.
We need to support and defend these truckers. They speak for millions of Canadians. Their message must be heard.