Participants in the Winnipeg March for Life head toward the provincial legislature.

Several provinces broke records for their march for life events held on or near the same day as the National March for Life, but regardless of the numbers in attendance, pro-life groups are excited about the marches as a way to inform and inspire young people to pro-life activism and as a witness to the injustice of abortion for both the public and elected officials.

In eight provincial marches for life – Ontario does not hold a provincial march and Quebec incorporates their march with a conference – more than 5000 Canadians called for legal protection for the unborn.

In Alberta, which saw a large decline in turnout in 2011 following a controversy in which the Catholic bishops refused to participate because of some protestors used posters with graphic images, turnout was up, with a record crowd of 1400. The May 17 event in Edmonton attracted a growing number of youth.  Terry Storms, a spokesperson for the Alberta March for Life Association told LifeSiteNews, “home schooled students, who are normally among the most enthusiastic supporters of the March, were well represented and, in addition, there were contingents from a number of rural Catholic School districts.”

On the same day, on the other side of the country, organizers of the New Brunswick March for Life also reported a record crowd, with 450 people taking part in the 12-year-old event. NB Right to Life’s executive director Peter Ryan told LifeSiteNews that the crowd in the provincial capital of Fredericton “was bigger, more youthful and more upbeat than ever.” The province had the best political presence, with 16 of 55 members of the Legislative Assembly, including Liberal health critic Bill Fraser, taking part, including nine Progressive Conservatives and seven Liberals. “It’s good for us to have the political respect,” Ryan said. “We are now looking for them to roll up their sleeves and work hard to protect the unborn and mothers.”

Two adult women shared their personal stories of being adopted. “When one chooses abortion, they choose to say ‘no’ to someone just like me,” Elisha Lakin, 23, told the crowd. She applauded her mother’s courage in having a child as a teenager and her selflessness in letting her be adopted.

The testimonials were part of the “Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life” theme of the march.

The New Brunswick march attracted 16 MLAs, so whom are pictured above.

For the first time, the New Brunswick March for Life featured a Mass for Life, held prior to the event. Two of the province’s four bishops, Bishop Robert Harris of Saint John and Bishop Valery Vienneau of Bathurst, concelebrated the Mass. In his homily, Bishop Harris said, “God is love, and from that love comes the free gift of life beginning at conception. From that moment, everyone has the right to life.”

At least 16 pastors and clergy from different denominations took part in the New Brunswick March this year. After the march there was a short vigil outside the Morgentaler abortion mill in Fredericton.

Other provinces held their march on the same day as the National March for Life on May 10.

The Winnipeg March for Life was organized by Campaign Life Coalition Manitoba, the Knights of Columbus,  and Life’s Vision. The 433 pro-life activists gathered at The Forks and heard Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber deliver a message that “we are made in God’s image,” and “Each one of us received this gift, and each of these gifts is a gift for all of us. So, we have to receive life. We have to support life. We have to defend life in all of the ways that we can.”

After the talks, the Winnipeg marchers walked to the legislature where a member of “Silent No More” shared her story. Participants were then encouraged to swell the numbers for next year’s March by bringing at least one friend in 2013.

The Saskatchewan March for Life drew 500 people to the legislature in Regina and another 220 to an event in Saskatoon. In Regina, the theme was  “From Cribs to Crosses” and the march featured a large sign depicting a crib, with a teddy bear in the corner, breaking apart and forming crosses, and rows of white crosses planted in the lawn, reminded the pro-lifers that abortion breaks apart the lives of women and families as it ends the life of the child in the womb. Colette Stang, vice-president of the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association, told LifeSiteNews: “Witnessing displays of little white crosses all in a row gives one a huge feeling of regret, sadness and the realization of the lost little lives.” She added: “The broken crib drawing is not comfortable to look at, it makes one uneasy. It represents the tearing effect abortion has on people and eventually the world. The broken crib is coming apart and forming crosses … this is a strong visual of what abortion is doing – breaking families, breaking hearts, breaking the lives of mothers, as well as breaking away from God.”

Crosses at the Regina March for Life symbolized the babies who have lost their lives to abortion.

Speakers at the Regina march included Catholic bishops from Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert as well as representatives from Silent No More, Rachel’s Vineyard Saskatchewan, and various Christian groups.

In Victoria, B.C., nearly 2000 people took part in the fifth annual B.C. March for Life. This year`s theme was “Speak up for Life” and speakers, including Victoria Bishop Richard Gagnon, challenged participants to be a voice for the unborn. “Our intention here today is to peacefully and prayerfully bring attention to the victims of abortion in our province,” said B.C. March for Life media spokeswoman, Anastasia Pearse, who is also the Western Campus Coordinator for the National Campus Life Network. “We want to raise awareness and ask people to think before they choose abortion. They need to know the facts and be fully informed of all of the risks before they make these life changing decisions.”

Pearse continued: “We are marching today to speak out against this atrocity, to speak up for those 14,000 British Columbians who never had the chance to speak for themselves. We cannot remain silent when so many lives are at stake.”

Monica Roddis, president of Life Canada, noted in her speech that polls show this generation to be more pro-life than previous generations.

Rev. Robert Fitterer,  pastor at Victoria’s Emmanuel Baptist Church and founding director of the Christian Community College, urged youth to use all media mediums possible to share the pro-life message. “It is through this media that we will change our society,” he said.

The B.C. Catholic reported that politicians largely ignored the event. CLC British Columbia president John Hof told the paper that, “perhaps the politicians will one day realize that 2,000 mostly young people, coming to their doorstep with one voice raised for the unborn, is a march they can ill afford to ignore.” A pair of NDP MLAs told B.C. Catholic that a 100-strong demonstration in the parking lot of the legislature the same day that was organized by the Musqueam First Nation was much more important. Hof shared an amusing anecdote with LifeSiteNews about the two demonstrations. He said a large group of people were already gathered at the legislature when the pro-life marchers arrived. “It turned out they were members of the Musqueam First Nation who were having their own rally, demanding the protection of an ancient burial site that may soon undergo development,” Hof explained, adding that he wasn’t sure how the two coinciding rallies could proceed. Then the Musqueam chief, Stewart Philip, who was in a meeting in the legislature, emerged and given the use of the PA system set up for the March for Life speeches. He thanking the pro-lifers for being there and pointed out that both groups held many ideals in common. Philip then approached Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller and touching his own heart said, “your Grace, you need to know this issue is close to my heart.”

On the other coast, about 20 people attended the Newfoundland March for Life in St. John’s. Patrick Hanlon of Pro-Life Newfoundland explained the seemingly low numbers by noting that just a few weeks earlier 300 people attended the main annual pro-life demonstration in the province on Good Friday. Furthermore, Hanlon said “many of our regulars are currently in Ottawa attending the National March for Life.”

The Nova Scotia March for Life in Halifax drew 75 people to Province House, where they were addressed by members of the CLC Nova Scotia executive and Andre Turcot, pro-life chair of the province’s Knights of Columbus. CLC NS executive director Ellen Chessel greeted participants to the fourth annual provincial march and said “this awesome event” presents an opportunity to give a voice to for the unborn and correct “the worst mistake ever.” Despite rain the night before, 22 pro-lifers attended the provincial candlelight vigil.

The Prince Edward Island March for Life in Charlottetown attracted 100 pro-life islanders.  David Abbott of the Knights of Columbus told the gathering, “without a genuine respect for human life and the natural family, the Canadian social fabric will continue to disintegrate … it is a fallacy to believe that a nation can legally and wilfully destroy it’s own people without also destroying itself.”

– with files from