Meet the RIH nurse heading 'Freedom Rallies' in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Meet the RIH nurse heading 'Freedom Rallies' in Kamloops

'Freedom Rally' in Kamloops.
Image Credit: Contributed
March 30, 2021 - 7:00 AM

The organizer of the weekly ‘Freedom Rally’ at Riverside Park in Kamloops is also a nurse.

Glen Aalderink works at Royal Inland Hospital as an orthopedic nurse, but every Saturday he shows up at Riverside Park to take issue with COVID related public health orders.

In a conversation with iNFOnews.ca, Aalderink explained why he leads the rallies and how he tries to balance that with his responsibilities as a healthcare provider.

“I look at myself and I think it’s rational, but when (I) start explaining it I think... am I down a rabbit hole?’” Aalderink said.

READ MORE: 'She's a liar,' Kelowna anti-COVID-19 restriction rally organizer takes aim at Dr. Bonnie Henry

Aalderink said he “doesn’t want to fight the government in the first place” because he would not expect to win. He wears a mask in public “to avoid the hassle” and he is vaccinated (not including COVID-19 vaccines).

However, in the early days of the pandemic, he had no urge to protest. He volunteered on the COVID floor at RIH. He saw himself as a low-risk employee who had a duty to put himself at risk where healthcare providers were most needed.

“I would come home, strip naked and fully sanitize before even going to the living room,” he recalled. “I was worried my eight year old daughter might grow up without a father. I was fully expecting to get COVID and thought I would surely die.”

But then the last straw came after the first couple of months of public health orders.

“Her grandparents couldn't see their granddaughter. I could see the pain that was causing them over the first two months,” he said. “Then one day my daughter broke down because she couldn’t see them.”

That’s when he gave in, allowed his daughter to continue visits with her grandparents and decided he was not willing to accept public health orders.

Like many people in B.C. in the last year, psychological stress from pandemic isolation had taken its toll. But Aalderink decided he had to direct his fight towards the federal and provincial governments.

“What you may consider a reasonable restriction on freedoms, I do not.”

READ MORE: Pandemic caused 'significant psychological distress' in 76% of people

Aalderink believes COVID-19 is dangerous and those that are more at risk should take necessary precautions, yet a fear of lasting risks to constitutional rights permeates the group.

While he asserts that he is not a conspiracy theorist, he says QAnon believers and Neo-Nazis are a risk to show up to their protests and “undermine” his message. Instead of distancing himself or his ‘movement’ from those groups, Aalderink said it’s important to have conversations with both those groups and others he might disagree with.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem that a compromise can be met with Aalderink and public health orders. When asked about whether it is reasonable to see public health orders eased in exchange for public vaccinations, Aalderink characterized it as “blackmail.”

He has no apparent intention to stop hosting protests in Kamloops. Aalderink said he notifies Kamloops RCMP every week before they bring the signs out on Saturday.

The Kamloops ‘Freedom Rallies’ are well associated with groups in Kelowna and throughout the province, he said.

Although police are aware, Kamloops RCMP have previously stated that they respect the right to lawful and peaceful protest, so they do not intervene.

To Aalderink’s knowledge, he said no one has been handed fines for violating health orders at protests in Kamloops.

READ MORE: New restrictions on indoor dining, church services and gyms in B.C.: health officials

Meanwhile, 2,518 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in B.C. over the weekend, according to provincial health authorities. Just 156 of those cases were in the Interior Health region.

The province, in response, has added more restrictions on March 29, including closing the doors to indoor eating at restaurants and bars.

The new, tightened restrictions will continue until April 19.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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