CALGARY -- A grassroots organization that's against mandatory mask rules, business shutdowns and other protocol enacted to keep COVID-19 numbers down demonstrated once again in Calgary.

The group, which calls itself Walk For Freedom, gathered downtown for a meeting in front of city hall before they marched down Stephen Avenue Saturday afternoon.

Police estimate about 350 people were on site. That’s a drastic decrease from previous gatherings.  

Organizers write on their Facebook page that the demonstration is meant to draw attention to the "strict controls being forced" on Albertans in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But not every protester was there for the same reason.

Some say they’re only against part of the restrictions. Others were on site to advocate for Alberta separatism. There were even some signs questioning the very legitimacy of the virus.

One woman told CTV News she would “rather get sick than wear a mask.”

Another protester, who only wanted to be identified as Jeremy, said he is “not anti-mask, but anti-mandate.”

"Albertans have had enough,” Walk For Freedom wrote in a statement to members. “The time for everyone to speak up and stand up is here.”

The protest was one of two scheduled in the city Saturday.

A nighttime rally, hosted by a similar group called Freedom Unity Alliance, involved some of the same members who last week marched with the Walk For Freedom group.

Officers say they believe the two sides have now separated into different factions.

The Calgary Police Service said it would be in attendance at both rallies.

Just like in previous weeks, the afternoon event broke multiple rules under Alberta's Public Health Act in regards to outdoor gatherings and involved almost no mask-wearing or physical distancing.

Officials, including Mayor Naheed Nenshi and CPS Police Chief Mark Neufeld, have condemned the events. In availabilities this week, they called organizers "irresponsible” and “selfish.”


They’re not the only ones who are against the meetups.

Business managers along Stephen Avenue tell CTV News the walks have made them uncomfortable. They’re worried those in attendance may appear inside their business after the march, which could pose a significant virus-spreading threat.

Management at The Metropolitan say some in last Saturday’s demonstration taunted staff inside while they passed.

“One of them came up laughing and called us ‘losers,’ and then one of them spit on the window,” Christina Maclean said. “What statement are you making? You’re not wearing a mask and you’re spitting at somebody. It’s kind of grotesque.”

Other demonstrations also took place in Edmonton and Red Deer. 

According to the latest data from Alberta Health, there are more than 20,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and almost 700 people have died.