A North Okanagan group upset with the lockdown imposed upon them by a government they don’t trust held their first public meeting Easter Sunday in Vernon.
Following an idea from Vancouver’s Susan Standfield-Spooner, who designed a global No More Lockdowns peaceful rally, close to 20 people gathered at 2 p.m., April 12, at Spirit Square outside Vernon City Hall.
End the lockdown protests took place in Vancouver and Ohio over the weekend, while a would-be protest in Munich was cancelled by the German courts April 9 as it was expected to gather more than 10 people making social distancing hard to maintain.
“There is going to be no shouting, no disrespectful comments and no rambling,” said Vernon group organizer Sylvia Herchen, a 35-year health-care worker who was working as a physiotherapist when the COVID-19 shutdown was put into effect in Canada and B.C., costing her, she said, “thousands of dollars.”
“I was working until I was told not to,” she said.
Herchen told the group she wouldn’t discuss a virus that has the potential to be dangerous because it evolved from animals. What she did discuss was that, suddenly, the media, doctors and bureaucrats all knew what is the best treatment for the new virus.
“Rational thinkers would think quarantine is when you restrict the movement of sick people,” Herchen said. “Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people.”
“The media and the bureaucrats have taken the opportunity of this new virus and done an experiment to see how docile we are.”
Herchen admitted the world is cleaner because of the shutdown, and that “Mother Nature needed a rest,” but she said Ottawa had many opportunities to slow pollution and “never lifted a finger.”
“Now, small businesses, the backbone of our social lives, are being punished again to save lives and any environmental gains are purely by accident,” she said. “No action necessary by the government. Just crippling our businesses and destroying our freedoms.”
On March 23, the province announced a $5-billion aid package for individuals and businesses affected by the economic shutdown due to COVID-19. The federal government is taking immediate action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship due to the novel coronavirus, information on supports available for individuals, businesses and industries are available on canada.ca.
A man named Chris said the Vernon group gathered Sunday was observing the rule of social distancing and keeping two metres apart, only because “Canada is no longer a free country.”
He didn’t provide his last name.
“The Charter of Rights doesn’t matter,” he said. “They’ve totally taken away our right to congregate, and it won’t be long before my free speech is taken away.”
The gathering Sunday was supposed to last from 2-5 p.m. Herchen ended things just before 3 p.m., but was undeterred.
She wants the group to meet daily, and to have the people who attended tell a couple of friends who will tell a couple of friends to increase the numbers.
“The only way we can prevent what is happening is to share this message and similar messages to as many people as you can,” she said. “Try to have them understand that the media is adept at spinning lies and falsifying statistics. They appeal to our sensitive nature with lies of how full the hospitals are and how much the staff and patients are suffering.
“This deception comes from a perverse desire to keeping us poor, stupid and unhealthy and now locked in.”
Members of the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP were nearby and performed a walk through while the rally was underway.
The City of Vernon had no comment regarding the rally, but pointed to Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the freedom of expression, freedom of association and the freedom of peaceful assembly.