More than one hundred supporters for a church near Edmonton are gathered outside the property on the first Sunday after it was closed down for violating Alberta public COVID-19 health orders.

Dylan Short
Police erect fencing that had been torn down by people gathered outside the GraceLife Church near Edmonton on April 11, 2021.Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia
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Around 400 protestors gathered outside a church near Edmonton on Sunday after it was closed last week for violating COVID-19 health orders.
The range road in front of GraceLife Church located off Highway 627 about five kilometres west of the Edmonton city limits was closed to traffic Sunday and became the scene of a protest that lasted much of the day. RCMP had several vehicles and officers in the area.
Some of the people gathered sang hymns and listened to Bible readings, held outside fencing enclosing the church property.
Just after noon, however, some attendees tore down sections of the fence as RCMP rushed to stop them. As the fence was being taken down, some chanted leave the fence and Jesus would not take down the fence. Police later replaced the fencing while some in attendance assisted.
Few if any of the attendees were members of the church, according to lawyers representing Pastor James Coates, who has been charged under the Public Health Act with violating COVID restrictions and spent 35 days in jail.
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Many in attendance were vocal about disliking government, the media and the police in attendance, and several prominent anti-mask individuals attended the gathering.
A few held signs warning of tyranny and some wore shirts insinuating the ongoing global pandemic, which has accounted for tens of thousands of deaths in Canada, is not real. A few carried Alberta and Canadian flags and, shortly after 10 a.m., a large wooden cross was carried down the road as Amazing Grace was played from a loud speaker.
Many people who came to the GraceLife Church property said they came from out of town, some from as far away as Grande Prairie and Lethbridge.
Jordon Kosik, who is not a member of GraceLife but said he attends church in Grande Prairie, urged those in attendance to remain united and peaceful. He said it didnt matter what church or religious building was shuttered, he would have been there.
I respect who (the COVID-19 virus) affects, like I stay away from my grandparents and a family member who has severe asthma, so obviously we do our best part, said Kosik. But I dont like how it affects everybody as a whole, like what to do and what not to do.
About 400 people gather outside the GraceLife Church property near Edmonton on Sunday, April 11, 2021.Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia
He said the government should adopt a regional approach to guidelines and provide more data to support the restrictions they have in place. Kosik urged the government to continue to move forward in its reopening plan.
RCMP cruisers were parked in front of the church and blocked the access road leading to its front doors. Shortly after the fence was brought down, four to five unmarked police vehicles were escorted through the crowd and behind the fence.
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The gathering created tensions with nearby Enoch Cree Nation, whose territory includes land north of Highway 627 near GraceLife.
In a news release, Enoch Chief Billy Morin accused some protesters of trespassing on the nations land and vandalizing his vehicle.
Although I respect GraceLife protesters right to protest, right to worship, and right to free speech, I strongly condemn their illegal trespassing on our land, their vandalization of a nation members vehicle, and their blatant disrespect of our sovereignty as a proud First Nation, Morin said.
The news release added visitors must follow COVID-19 public health guidelines, physically distance, and wear a mask when on sovereign Enoch Cree Nation land.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), which is representing Coates, provided a statement Sunday saying they appreciate the support but their congregates were not in attendance at the gathering.
They said they have no control over what happens on the church grounds now that the property has been shuttered.
The church grounds are fully under the responsibility and control of the RCMP and Alberta Health Services. The closing of the Grace Life facility has understandably resulted in significant public outrage and caused even larger crowds to gather in one place, read the statement.
The Alberta government has created an even more divisive situation. It is time to end these unscientific, unjustified and arbitrary lockdown measures.
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Alberta Health Services health inspectors and police fenced off the church grounds Wednesday. The health authority said the closure will remain in effect until the church shows it can comply with current health restrictions.
AHS issued a closure order in January after finding the churchs Sunday services breached public health guidelines that limit worship services to 15 per cent of capacity. The church was also found to be in violation of orders ensuring everyone wears a mask and for physical distancing between households.
Coates trial on the Public Health Act charge begins May 3.
with files from Jonny Wakefield

  1. RCMP increasing traffic enforcement on road near GraceLife Church this weekend
  2. COVID-19: 1,293 new cases, five new deaths, hospital bed capacity at 87 per cent
  3. More fencing, noise complaints around GraceLife Church after Wednesday’s shut down

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