Around 40 residents gather in -30C to protest public health measures

Despite freezing temperatures, around 40 protesters gathered outside a downtown building on Saturday to express their disapproval of current public health measures.

Protesters gathered at midday as temperatures dropped above -30C, with wind chills approaching -40C.

“Well, as you can see, everyone’s pretty wrapped up,” said Wade Friesen, the organizer of the event. “You will see people’s commitment to the cause.”

The protest is part of an event taking place in several cities across Canada – including Whitehorse – but this is the first of its kind in the NWT and it came together at the last minute, Friesen said.

“I had no intention of putting the event together,” he said. “I was hoping someone else would do it… I waited and waited and waited and nobody put anything together. So yesterday or two days ago I just quickly triggered an event and spread it a little.”

Friesen said he decided to organize and take part because the restrictions had affected his children’s lives.

“Day care centers were closing for us and it was exhausting to find something at -30, -40,” he said.

The protesters carried signs denouncing public health measures and vaccination requirements. (Luke Carroll/CBC)

‘No End in Sight’

Friesen also discussed the impact of public health measures like lockdowns on the economy and how studies have found the Omicron variant to be less severe than previous variants.

“What is the exit strategy for this? We don’t know what that is, we’re sick of it,” he said. “Two years later and no end in sight – this has to be over.”

The protest took place in front of the Greenstone Building in downtown Yellowknife, an office for federal government employees. But Friesen said the protest wasn’t planned there because of that connection.

“That wasn’t the intention,” he said. “It’s a good place…it has the largest space for us to assemble.”

But he added it was a fitting coincidence.

“It’s in front of the federal building, so it’s handy that they had this space for us.”

About Gloria Skelton

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