Winkler-area crowd rails against public health rules
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/08/2021 (463 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
RM OF STANLEY — About 1,000 people gathered just off Highway 32 south of Winkler to call for the community to be declared a “sanctuary city” for those who oppose vaccine passports, mask mandates and other COVID-19 measures. It was the second consecutive day of protests at the site.
Vehicles stretched for about a kilometre along both sides of the highway and a neighbouring service road. Purple placards poked into the ground adorned with the People’s Party of Canada’s logo. Traffic on the highway crawled past, careful not to hit the people walking along the shoulder.
The crowd, seated in rows of lawn chairs in a grassy ditch facing a makeshift stage, lacked the usual protest signs and were mostly quiet. The event evoked the tone of a small Christian music festival more than a protest, complete with a few people in reflective vests directing parking.
After a prayer in song, organizer Shawn Enns launched into his speech. Adorning the stage were four large Canadian flags, behind a row of signs that said “My Body, My Choice: Stop Vaccine Passports.”
Enns referred to COVID-19 restrictions as attacks on business and expressed disbelief in the efficacy of restrictions and vaccines. He encouraged the crowd to protest mask mandates at schools.
Speaker Karl Krebs, whose Facebook group pushed to organize the event, warned “the wolves are upon us.”
“What we need to do right now is to put this hedge up, call ourselves a sanctuary city,” he said.
Wayne Sturby of the Manitoba Party said Canada should return to its state in the 1960s, while reminiscing “about how good things used to be.” The former corrections officer referred to public health orders as attacks on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Earlier on Monday, senior pastor Randy Smart at Bethel Bergthaler Mennonite Church, about 10 kilometres outside of Winkler, said he was saddened to see so many people taking part in the rallies.
“I’m so tired of that discussion about the Charter of Rights. The Charter of Rights, protect certain freedoms, but in the end, it doesn’t say and you are totally free to do what you want, no matter what anybody else needs,” he said.
Smart said he’s spoken to local residents who have had religious concerns around getting vaccinated and has shared the historical value of vaccines while referencing religious teachings.
“I don’t think it should be about religious beliefs at all. I think it’s about being wise and safe regarding our health needs and the needs of our community,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a faith issue at all, I don’t understand what in our Bible would say, ‘And don’t get a vaccine to protect you from this disease.”
— with files from Malak Abas
Updated on Monday, August 30, 2021 11:16 PM CDT: Adds photo