A boatload of anti-maskers and anti-vaccine passport protesters walked into a Nanaimo Canadian Tire Monday night, causing the store to close early and resulting in a significant police response.
The event was organized and led by Chris Sky, a man who wrote a book about what he calls restrictions on Canadian freedoms.
The incident began at a Nanaimo park Monday, a scheduled stop for Sky on his “No Vax Pass” tour of Vancouver Island.
What followed was he and other supporters going to a Canadian Tire and parading through the store without their masks.
“We are absolutely enjoying our freedom here. Ladies and gentlemen look at this. Absolutely everybody mask-free. This is insane. This is what we call freedom,” said Sky, while walking the aisles.
“They went inside the store. They expected to be dealt with by an employee. The management of the store decided to remove most of the employees for their safety and kept just a skeleton staff,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP.
“The protestors went through the self-checkout. They lasted about half an hour. They didn’t steal anything. They weren’t antagonistic and they left shortly thereafter.”
A livestream video shows dozens of people arriving at the store after police were already on scene. Police let the group, all not wearing masks, to pass by them and enter the store.
“The RCMP is here. They walked us inside. They’re here with other local police and they’re 100 per cent supportive,” said Sky on the livestream.
But Nanaimo RCMP says letting the group walk by didn’t mean police were condoning their actions.
“No, not at all. Just the sheer numbers for safety issues there’s no sense stopping it. We locked them in the store. We monitored the activity. As it turns out there was no violence. There was no shouting. They made their point and then they left shortly thereafter,” said O’Brien.
The “No Vaxx Pass Tour” made its third Vancouver Island stop in Campbell River Tuesday, with a couple hundred people in attendance.
Speakers questioned vaccine safety and other government COVID-19 policy. The tour’s next stops are in Kamloops and Vancouver.
Under B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer order, masks are required in all public indoor settings for all people born in 2016 or earlier. Health officials say face coverings are one measure that has been proven to suppress the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.