As 12,500 took part in the National March for Life in Ottawa on May 13, pro-lifers who couldn’t make the trip to the nation’s capital had the opportunity to join them in spirit and provide a public witness in their own regions as local pro-life groups, the provincial wings of Campaign Life Coalition and religious organizations organized provincial marches for life in nine of the ten provincial capitals.
The largest took place in Victoria where at least 2,500 people took part in the third annual B.C. March for Life. The procession closed downtown traffic for 30 minutes as a diverse crowd marched from Centennial Square to the legislative buildings where they heard from speakers that included Kamloops Bishop David John James Monroe, Jose Ruba from the Center for Bioethical Reform, Rev. Robert Fitterer of Emmanuel Baptist Church, student activist Minerva Macapagal, pro-life feminist Rachel Daniels and First Nations activist Jeff Charleson.
Macapagal, from Capilano College, said that pro-life advocacy might make one less popular but that standing up for the sanctity of human life was essential. Ruba drew comparisons between the pro-life fight and VE day and predicted victory in the battle to outlaw abortion.
In Edmonton, the Edmonton Journal reported that “hundreds” of people took part in its third annual Alberta March for Life. Speaking before the crowd were several women who are silent no more about their abortions and Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. He lamented the “social noose around the issue” which prevents people “from talking about it anymore” but added: “We can’t be silent on something like this.”
At the third annual Regina march took place on May 6, where 525 participants heard speakers that included Jerry and Donna Kristian, founders of St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission, and Michael Martorana, a retired high school teacher who is now involved with the Genocide Awareness Project. Martoran had the youth raise their hands – they accounted for half those in attendance – and said, “This is our hope in this struggle for justice.” Moose Jaw North Saskatchewan Party MLA Warren Michelson welcomed the marchers and according to the Regina Leader-Post other provincial representatives “mingled” with the crowd.
Three days later, the annual March for Life Mother’s Day Walk took place in Saskatoon.
In Manitoba, about 350 people gathered at The Forks, a historical site and popular meeting place in Winnipeg, before proceeding about a kilometer to the grounds of the provincial legislature. Archbishop Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface was the keynote speaker.
In Halifax, about 150 participants ended their march at the Nova Scotia legislative buildings where they heard from young mother and blogger Jennifer Derwey, 40 Days for Life coordinator Julie Culshaw, and Campaign Life Coalition Nova Scotia executive director Ellen Chesal. Derwey, who gave the keynote address which was repeatedly interrupted by cheers and applause, said “a discussion (is) desperately needed to lift the veil of silence that has burdened” women, health care workers, politicians, and society.
In Fredericton, six elected representatives including Human Resources Minister Rick Brewer, Supply and Services Minister Edward Doherty, Public Safety Minister John Foran, and New Brunswick Progressive Conservative leader David Alward, joined 500 participants in the 10th annual N.B. March for Life. Peter Ryan, executive director of the New Brunswick Right to Life Association, said he hopes abortion will become an issue in the September provincial elections.
In Charlottetown, the PEI march had its largest turnout to date as approximately 300 people proceeded from St. Dunstan’s Basilica to Province House. Speakers included MLA Robert Mitchell, provincial Catholic Women’s League president Zita Cameron, Alvin Curley of the Knight of Columbus, Fr. Danny Wilson of priests for Life, and PEI Right to Life Association president Hemki Vanderzwaag.
In St. John’s Newfoundland, 55 people came out to Confederation Hill to hear prayers from local clergy, a speech by Patrick Hanlon, spokesman for Pro-Life Newfoundland and Labrador, and sing Ode to Newfoundland. Hanlon told The Interim that the event elicited coverage from “all major local media outlets.”
Hanlon told the crowd that “when the most vulnerable of people are torn limb from limb in the sanctuary of the womb, society proves that it is not as inclusive and as loving as it claims.” He called upon politicians to enact legislation “to protect the right to life of all people.”
Campagne Quebec Vie hosted a conference attended by 200 people in Quebec City on May 15. Speakers included Cardinal Marc Oullet, and journalist Brigitte Bedard.
It was the first major pro-life conference held in the province since 2004 and CQV’s first ever in Quebec City.