This is the first time I have attended the March for Life. I was part of a 46-boy contingent from Saint Michael’s College School in Toronto who endured a five-hour bus ride to Ottawa to witness to the injustice of abortion. When we arrived on Parliament Hill at approximately 12:15 p.m., the crowd seemed somewhat lacking in size. I had expected many more people. I saw about six other school groups, a large delegation from the Knights Of Columbus and a few families. My group proceeded to grab picket signs and found a place to stand on the right side of the lawn. By the time we were settled, I looked around again. I was surprised to see a massive group of people covering the entire left side of the lawn in front of Parliament Hill.

Aside from the numbers, the crowd was not composed of the stereotypical pro-lifers. It was ethnically diverse and young. I saw large groups of South Asians, Chinese, Filipinos, Italians, Eastern Orthodox and Dutch people. While there were no doubt many evangelicals at the March, the event had a strong Catholic feel to it. Pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary were being held by numerous demonstrators and the songs sung by the band, and one of the prayers, made mention of the Immaculate Conception.

The vast majority at the March were youth. I had been under the impression that it was mostly elderly people who attended the March. When CLC president Jim Hughes read out the names of all the schools and youth groups that were attending the March, I was shocked. The youth presence added enthusiasm to the event. During the actual march through the streets, I could hear young people constantly chanting pro-life slogans. This, too, greatly surprised me.

I had assumed that a majority of the students had simply attended in order to get their community service hours, which are required to graduate from high school or to take the day off school. Indeed, many did, but when they arrived at the March, something changed them. Perhaps it was seeing so many of their colleagues decrying the injustice of abortion, calling upon our elected officials to right the wrong and defend the sacredness of human life.

The active participation of the youth showed that they actually care about the abortion issue. It showed that the pro-life movement is not a slowly dying movement of old, out-of-touch Christians, but indeed a thriving movement composed of dedicated people of all ages.

Another stereotype was challenged as there also seemed to be more women than men. Teenage and university-age girls outnumbered the boys and there were many mothers with their young children.

On the way to the March, I pondered and dreaded the thought of a day-long march through the streets of Ottawa, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the actual walk was only part of the March for Life events; most of the program occurred on Parliament Hill, where politicians, pro-life activists and religious leaders spoke about abortion as the great human rights issue of the day. You can find videos of many of them on if you search for “March for Life” and “Ottawa.”

Unfortunately, we could not hear all of the women from Silent No More, the pro-life group that gives voice to women who have come to terms with the suffering caused by their abortions, as students had to catch buses that had long trips back to southwestern Ontario. We heard only the first few moving testimonials. But that is one of the hazards of trying to fit so much into so little time.

It sounds strange, considering we were there to protest against abortion, but I had a great time at the 2007 National March for Life and hope to do it again next year. Many of my colleagues at St. Mike’s – some of whom came for the community service hours – have the same feelings. The atmosphere and people were upbeat and there is no cause more deserving of my time.

Patrick Tuns is a Grade 11 student at St. Michael’s College School and president of the school’s pro-life club.