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US-Canada border crossing in Alberta reopens after protesters pull out

‘Guys didn’t come here to start a war with the government,’ says organizer

The view from the U.S. side of the border crossing linking Sweet Grass, Montana and Coutts, Alberta. (File photo: Brian Kenney/

The U.S.-Canada border crossing at Coutts, Alberta, reopened on Tuesday after protesters ended a two-week blockade that had disrupted millions of dollars in trade. 

The Canada Border Services Agency reported that normal operations resumed. Videos shared on social media showed a convoy of semi-trucks and other vehicles driving away with their horns blasting.

“It’s definitely bittersweet leaving here,” Jory Evans, a spokesperson for the protesters, said during a live video streamed via Facebook

With the end of the Coutts blockade, just one border — in Emerson, Manitoba — remained closed by a protest. The Ambassador Bridge, the busiest commercial crossing between the U.S. and Canada, reopened late Sunday after police removed the remaining protesters. On Monday, normal operations resumed at the Pacific Highway border crossing in British Columbia, after police cleared a protest that had been causing serious disruptions.

Protesters left the Coutts border — which links to Sweet Grass, Montana — after police arrested 13 people and seized a large cache of weapons on Monday. Police alleged that the suspects were a part of a group within the protest that had the potential for violence. 

Later that day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a national emergency in response to the protests taking place across the country over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures. A senior official warned that the owners of trucks involved in protests would have their corporate accounts frozen and their insurance policies suspended. 

In an earlier video, Evans said the protesters decided to leave in response to multiple pressures. He also distanced the protesters from those who were arrested, saying they included infiltrators from extremist groups.

“Guys didn’t come here to start a war with the government,” he said. “We came here to fight for their freedom.”

Evans, whose family owns a cross-border carrier in Alberta, Evans Trucking, acknowledged that the protest had harmed the supply chain. 

“To get our trucks across the border in an efficient manner, it’s caused delays of hundreds of miles of going around disruptions in the supply chain, which is the intent, to a point,” he said. “But the intent of this ultimately was not to harm our fellow Canadians.”

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected].