Hundreds of people came to Bowen Park in Nanaimo this weekend for a rally in the name of “freedom,” including the right to choose to be vaccinated.
According to Vladislav Sobolev, member of Make Canada Free Again and an organizer, the July 24 event was a part of an international effort seeking to empower and educate citizens.
Sobolev said he and his group is a social change platform that is pro-science and pro-education, but opposed to the “globalist agenda.” Canadians have lost a number of freedoms over the last year and a half, he said.
“At the very basic level, everyone has to have a right,” said Sobolev. “Nobody has to be coerced or pressured and ultimately the biggest challenge that we’ve seen is that there’s no informed consent. People are actually not given all the information and in fact, there’s a huge propaganda and censorship agenda that’s happening.”
He said those who are voicing concerns, including some doctors, “are being censored left right and centre.”
Sobolev estimated there were about 300 people at the rally, as of noon Saturday, and was hoping for hundreds more over the course of the day.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C. provincial health officer, said earlier this summer that vaccinations are safe and effective and a “game-changer,” allowing the province to progress and end COVID-19 restrictions.
“They are what allow us now to move on, to move on from the pandemic, to living with COVID as one of those respiratory viruses in our lives and being able to get back to the things that we need to do in our lives, those important social connections,” Henry said.
According to the B.C. government’s most recent COVID-19 update July 23, there were 112 new cases reported, with 603 active cases provincewide. The Island Health region saw five new cases, with 22 active cases, the government said.
Eighty-one per cent of eligible adults in the province have received their first vaccine dose, while 61.4 per cent have received their second, stated the government. In Nanaimo, 79 per cent of people 12 and over have received at least a first dose of vaccine.