A convoy that's been in the works since December is finally coming to a head starting this Thursday. The Yellow Vest movement is taking to the highway starting on Thursday in Red Deer, and making their way across Canada to our capital and Parliament Hill, picking supporters up along the way, including some from Estevan.
"There'll be of trucks, we'll put it that way, and we have more joining all the time," says the organizer of the Yellow Vests in Estevan Jay Riedel. "I'm pretty sure from what I've been hearing there should be a thousand people on Parliament Hill on the 19th and 20th so it's going to be pretty huge. It's going to be one of the biggest things that's happened in Canada in a long time."
The convoy has been in the making since the much smaller convoys we saw across the country at the tail end of 2018 and early 2019, alongside protesters in France in an entirely different movement, but the same name. The protests in France typically revolve around similar ideals, but they have been much more violent with 12 casualties in the country as a result, while protests in Canada have ranged through a few different topics including illegal immigration, but the main focus has been around the Federal Liberal Government and their carbon pricing. Riedel hopes that when people out east see the passion for the oil industry and how much the west relies on it demonstrated in a peaceful way, it may change a few minds.
"We're doing this in a peaceful manner, we don't want this to get blown out of proportion. We expect to see some anti-pipeline people along the way. We've talked to quite a few even in the last while, and I think a lot of them have a lot of misinformation about what things are about with the environment. It's amazing once you talk to a few of these people and you set your differences aside and you actually talk and explain how things are going, once you start talking they understand the points of it too."
The protesters depart from Red Deer on Thursday, picking up more supporters throughout the country, including in Virden, Manitoba where the group of about 20 people from Estevan will be joining in. Riedel believes they would see more people coming out to the protests if it were a different season with farmers in the middle of calving and the oil field as hard up for work as it is.
"This is just prior to road bans, and so anybody working in the oil field right now has to keep working because they're going to have six weeks to a month of down time here, so we understand that it's tough for them to get away, but a lot of them have shown their support in other ways."
It's no secret to those who live and work in Saskatchewan and Estevan in particular how important the oil and gas sector is to the economy out west, and anyone who supports the Yellow Vesters in Canada are looking to mitigate that as much as possible.