Thousands gathered Saturday in the streets of Montreal to protest against the province of Quebec’s Covid-19 vaccine passport, which will go into effect early next month.
Holding signs that said “Freedom!” and “We are not laboratory rats,” the demonstrators, many of whom came with their families, paraded peacefully under a blazing sun in downtown Montreal.
Quebecers wanting to eat at a restaurant, go to a bar, exercise at the gym or attend a festival will need to present proof of vaccination against the coronavirus beginning September 1, under a measure introduced by the province earlier this week.
“It should be the choice of each person whether to be vaccinated. With the passports it is a means of forcing us” to get vaccinated, said Veronique Whalen, a 31-year-old who came with her family and said she doesn’t normally attend protests.
“I’m here for my children, I’m afraid for them. It’s discrimination,” she said.
Other signs in the crowd read “Dictatorship,” “The vaccine scam,” and “Health apartheid,” and were seen dotting the crowd alongside a number of Quebec flags.
Several women held posters reading “My body, my choice,” using the popular feminist slogan that is also associated with the abortion rights movement.
Some protests also wore a yellow star on their chest with “unvaccinated” written across it, in the fashion of the Star of David that Jewish people were forced to wear during the Holocaust.
Vaccination rates in the French-speaking province are high — 84 percent of Quebecers have received a first dose and 70 percent are fully vaccinated.