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Waterloo may see a 'freedom convoy' this weekend (update)

Called 'Waterloo Town Square Convoy,' it will likely happen on the route from the Wilfrid Laurier campus area to Uptown Waterloo this weekend around noon
Uptown Waterloo 2
CityNews file photo of Uptown Waterloo

A post shared on Twitter is giving residents the heads-up that a rally inspired by the 'Freedom Convoy' in Ottawa will likely happen in the region this weekend.

The post shows a flyer with the phrase "true north strong and free" and a tractor truck in front of a maple leaf across the top.

It invites supporters to a "Waterloo Town Square Convoy" on Saturday, Feb. 5 and Sunday, Feb. 6 at noon.

It's looking for vehicles and people on foot to join in and suggests a route that goes through the Wilfrid Laurier University campus area.

Twitter users replying to the post are condemning the protest and expressing concern for businesses in Uptown Waterloo.

Regional Chair Karen Redman said staff monitor social media and is aware of the plans.

"The police and Waterloo bylaw will no doubt have their own operational considerations, and it will be Waterloo Regional Police Services that will be coordinating a response," she said. 

Redman is also calling word of the protest and division "distressing."

She said, "Nobody has enjoyed the pandemic. We're all tired of this."

Redman asked anyone planning on participating to put community safety above all else and she condemned the use of any hate speech or racist attacks. 

Shelley Walker, CEO of Cambridge-based Women's Trucking Federation of Canada said the network has heard word of the rally from different areas, including Harriston and Alymer.

"Not just the truck drivers but from farmers, now that they've been out and about protesting and are planning on joining these convoys," she said.

Walker said WTFC represents all the grassroots of the trucking organization and urged that the views don't represent the vast majority of the trucking industry.

She said that out of 317,000 truckers around 16,000 "are affected by the vaccine mandate."

"Smaller, radical groups are starting to join them and once they're all mixed together in a crowd, you don't know who is who anymore. So, don't just assume because something's going wrong or you're seeing a flag burning or anything like that, that it's a truck driver that's doing it," Walker said. 

Truck drivers have been targets of those against the ongoing protest in Ottawa.

She said, "We've already had a couple drivers that have reached out to us that they've had some vandalism to their trucks where they parked them, even though they're not involved in these convoys."

"People, just because you see a truck, don't assume it's been involved in that convoy. Take the time, ask."

Past protests against COVID-19 measures drew large crowds to Uptown Waterloo.

Regional police estimated around 500 people attended a rally in January

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