An anti-vaccination protest of over 50 people occurred in Burns Lake on Sept. 2, joining thousands of others across B.C. as part of the ‘World Wide Walk Out’. The protest began at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) and went down Hwy. 16 through town, then looped back on the other side of Hwy. 16, returning to CNC.
A Burns Lake resident informed Lakes District News that the protest had to do with medical professionals standing up for their rights against taking the vaccine, and in support, communities are standing up with them at the same time.
However, according Dr. Matthew Chow, president of Doctors of B.C. — an association that represents 14,000 physicians, residents and medical students in British Columbia — the province-wide protests were a ‘gut punch’ for health care workers.
“Yesterday was one of the low points — if not the low point — for a lot of us working in this sector just seeing so much hatred and vitriol directed our way. It’s been tough, but we’re professionals and we care about our patients, we care about what’s right. We move on. But I’d be lying if I said we didn’t feel anything from yesterday,” said Chow.
Chow said many people have reached out with messages of support, which has given some hope to health care workers. He’s also hopeful to see rising vaccination rates among British Columbians, which will be key in getting B.C. out of the pandemic.
“A lot of folks were out there saying they were protesting about freedom, that they felt their freedom was being infringed upon, but I’d like folks to look at it a different way: vaccination is the path to freedom. By getting more people vaccinated, that’s how we put COVID-19 behind us.”
Meena Brisard of the BC Hospital Employees Union echoed Chow’s comments. In a statement, Brisard said the protests were ‘the last thing’ health care workers needed. “Health care workers, and those seeking care, need to be supported through this pandemic – not targeted,” she said.
Village of Burns Lake Councillor Charlie Rensby made a statement via Facebook condemning protesting in front of hospitals and harassing health care workers, which did occur across the proving, however this did not occur in the Burns Lake protest.
In accordance with the B.C. government, vaccination passports will be mandatory to access various business, services and events across the province beginning on Sept. 13.
–With files from Cole Schisler