The annual National March for Life in Ottawa gets a lot of attention in the Canadian pro-life community and with good reason. This year’s event in the nation’s capital will be the 12th of its kind and will likely draw almost 10,000 people, if not more than that.
But another phenomenon has been growing out of the success of the national march and that is a series of regional Marches for Life in provinces across Canada. Intended for those who want to make a pro-life statement but do not have the time or resources to make the trek to Ottawa, these marches are taking place in virtually every province except Ontario and Quebec and, like the national one, have been increasing in size and complexity as time has gone on.
We will now take a look at the plans for each regional March for Life this year, from West to East.
Campaign Life Coalition B.C. president John Hof says the province’s March for Life will be taking place in the capital of Victoria the same day as the national march in Ottawa, Thursday, May 14.
“We had one last year and it was tremendously successful on the steps of the legislature in Victoria,” he said of the first-time event that attracted almost 1,000 people on short notice and with little preparation. “We’re getting really good enthusiasm and response, such that we’re probably going to have a very, very good turnout at this year’s march.
The plan is to have the two Catholic bishops of Victoria and Vancouver speak, along with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the executive director of the very active Kelowna Right to Life, Robin and Rachel Daniel, who deal with family issues, and representatives from the Knights of Columbus and the National Campus Life Network. The night before, Lapin will speak at the associated Victoria Pro-Life banquet.
Marchers will gather about a kilometre and a half from the legislature and then proceed through the streets to the seat of the provincial government.
Campaign Life Coalition B.C., the B.C. and Yukon Knights of Columbus, the Catholic dioceses of Victoria and Vancouver and the various Vancouver Island pro-life groups are the main sponsors of the event.
For more information, call (604) 534-4828.
After holding their first one on a Sunday last year, attracting some 400 people, organizers of the March for Life in Edmonton have decided to now go with the first Thursday of every May, meaning this year’s event will take place on May 7.
Sister Elisabeth Coulombe, chair of the Alberta March for Life Association, said the day will begin with a pro-life Mass for Catholics at 10:30 a.m., celebrated by Archbishop Richard Smith and four other bishops. This will be followed by a six-kilometre-long march that will begin at the legislature grounds, and then proceed to city hall, past the headquarters of the Edmonton Journal newspaper (which ignored the march last year) and back to the legislature.
Scheduled speakers include former MP Ken Epp, MLA Ted Morton, Bishop Fred Henry, Archbishop Richard Smith, representatives of the Silent No More Awareness campaign, Most Rev. David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton, Wally Streit, state deputy of the Knights of Columbus, disabled rights advocate Mark Pickup, Tony Sykora of the Elk Island Catholic School Board, Nicole Severin of the Go Life pro-life group at the University of Alberta and Amanda Phillips of the Back Porch pro-life crisis pregnancy agency.
The Alberta March for Life Association has 14 board members and is made up of groups including Alberta Pro-Life, Edmonton Pro-Life and the Back Porch. The Knights of Columbus will be providing 50 march marshalls.
“Next year, we will hopefully try to get a vigil in front of the (Morgentaler) ‘clinic’ for a whole night,” said Coulombe.
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Regina’s second March for Life takes place on Thursday, May 7, in the afternoon, starting off at a local church, proceeding to the provincial legislature and then returning to the church.
“Last year, we had it on a Friday and found that our members of the legislature were not able to come,” said organizer Marcy Millette of the event that attracted 400 people despite late organization. “We are hopeful that this time, they will be there. That is our goal – to reach the MLAs with the message of pro-life.”
Scheduled speakers include Canadian Priests for Life national director Father Tom Lynch and representatives of the Silent No More Awareness campaign.
“We have a government that’s a little bit more life-friendly, so we are a little bit more hopeful that we can reach them now,” said Millette. “Our main goal is to defund abortion in the province and we are very hopeful that we can do that … A majority of the people in Saskatchewan do not want to fund abortion.”
For more information, call (306) 352-3490 or 1-888-842-7752.
Winnipeg’s March for Life is scheduled for Thursday, May 14, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the historical site The Forks and proceeding about a kilometre to the grounds of the provincial legislature.
Speakers have yet to be confirmed, said Larry Kustra, state deputy of the Manitoba Knights of Columbus, which is staging the event in co-operation with Campaign Life Coalition Manitoba, the Catholic Women’s League, the League for Life in Manitoba and the Winnipeg League for Life.
About 300 people attended the first march last year, but this year, organizers hope to see 1,000 present.
“We started meetings last October and have had several meetings with pro-life groups,” said Kustra. “We formed a committee that has been meeting every month and a half or two months.”
For more information, contact the Knights of Columbus’s pro-life chair, Guy Precourt, at (204) 663-8022 or e-mail email@example.com.
A March for Life will begin in Fredericton at noontime on Thursday, May 14, says Peter Ryan, executive director of the New Brunswick Right to Life Association, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Knights of Columbus. It will be the 10th of its kind, having been launched in 2000, making New Brunswick the first province to begin a regional march.
Last year’s event attracted 300 people, with excellent support from MLAs – fully 15 of the legislature’s 55 members were present – and “fair” media coverage. This year, participants will gather at the legislature grounds before proceeding on a march that will take them past the Morgentaler abortion site, where prayers will be offered. One thousand roses – representing the number of unborn killed each year in the province – will be placed at the legislature, as well as at abortion sites in New Brunswick.
“Planning is still underway, so I don’t have a lineup of speakers as yet,” said Ryan. “I’m hoping for bigger and better things this year.”
For more information, call: (506) 459-8990 or 1-888-796-9600 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second annual March for Life takes place in Halifax on Thursday, May 14 at 12 noon. Speakers including Pastor Jeff Lutes of International Harvesters for Christ, Julie Culshaw, co-ordinator of Halifax’s 40 Days for Life campaign, and a representative of the Silent No More Awareness campaign will address attendees from the steps of the legislature.
The evening before, a prayer vigil will take place at 8 p.m. in front of the Victoria General Hospital, where some 1,700 abortions are committed every year. Campaign Life Coalition Nova Scotia is staging the event, along with the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League.
Last year’s event drew media coverage because of a counter-protest by pro-abortionists, said Ellen Chesal of CLC Nova Scotia. But police have offered assurances that there will not be a repeat this year.
For more information, call (902) 861-1982.
This province boasts two regional Marches for Life this year. The main one, in St. John’s, will be held Thursday, May 14 at Confederation Hill, the seat of the provincial government.
Begun seven or eight years ago by Campaign Life Coalition Newfoundland, the capital city’s march is now organized by the Newfoundland and Labrador Right to Life Association. Colette Fleming, executive director of the association, said its board of directors includes members from the Salvation Army, the Pentecostal Assemblies and the Anglican Catholic church.
The St. John’s March for Life is an offshoot of an annual Good Friday vigil at local abortion sites, which regularly attracts 500-600 people. Organizers are hoping for better weather than last year, when high winds and torrential rains hampered the event.
The fact that the Knights of Columbus in Newfoundland are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year offers hopes that there will be a big turnout from among their ranks, said Fleming.
For more information, call: (709) 726-5012 or (709) 697-6701 or e-mail: email@example.com.
For people living in the Marysville area of Newfoundland, Margie Hynes, president of Campaign Life Coalition Newfoundland, is organizing a March for Life on Thursday, May 14.
“We’re going to start with Mass in the morning and then walk around our schools, hand out some information and come back to a church … and show a video,” said Hynes. “We have a pro-life monument in our cemetery, so we’re going to stop there for a few minutes.”
For more information, call: (709) 279-3580.