At major intersections in large cities and along main streets in small towns across the country, ordinary Canadians did the extraordinary on a Sunday afternoon in October. Concerned citizens bravely stood in public with bold signs proclaiming the truth. Once again, LifeChain spread across the streets of this continent, with thousands giving an hour of their time for this pro-life witness. As every year, they held signs with such blunt, yet true, statements as, “Abortion Kills Children” and “Abortion Hurts Women.”
Considering the fury raised by the media during the past election, when something as simple as pre-abortion counselling was suggested, it is amazing that so many Canadians from all walks of life would dare to stand in public with pro-life signs. And the numbers went up this year – in some locations, very dramatically. (One Toronto intersection, which had fewer than a dozen individuals last year, had approximately 50 this year and ran out of signs.) But most of these Canadians, young and old, are far from radical. They are typical students, labourers, professionals and retirees.
It is even more surprising to realize that the reaction from passers-by was mostly positive and supportive. The hundreds of thousands who passed LifeChain and read the signs included many who were silent, and many who simply reflected upon the message. However, of those who provided a reaction or feedback, the overwhelming majority gave “thumbs up” signs or other forms of encouragement. Many individuals stopped and talked to those witnessing to share their own abortion stories and offered thanks for spreading the word that abortion kills children and harms women. Only a small minority became angry or were insulting. On the streets, the reaction is very different than in newsrooms or legislatures.
In Richmond Hill, Ont., the LifeChain zone captain was approached by a woman who was driving by and was compelled to stop. She shared a difficult personal story in order to emphasize the importance of such pro-life witness. The zone captain told The Interim that this passer-by said: “People don’t understand what abortion does to women.” She shared how her daughter became pregnant as a teenager and how she pressured her to get an abortion, believing the lie that the pregnancy would ruin her life. Today, her daughter is a university graduate and “my nine-year-old grandson is the joy of my life.”
This woman is hardly unique. Some women have declared that the only reason they chose to let their children live was seeing the signs of LifeChain. This might be one of the reasons that so many young people are joining similar efforts. The aforementioned Toronto intersection had a contingent from York University; Yonge and Bloor, one of the busiest intersections in the country, was lined with University of Toronto students. Realizing that they have been lied to, and that their generation is being killed, thousands of youths enthusiastically came to stand for this hour.
The national president of Campaign Life Coalition, Jim Hughes, is happy to see a growing enthusiasm and commitment for pro-life witnessing and action. He said, “I am grateful to the zone captains, organizers, and promoters of LifeChain across the country, as well as the spiritual leaders and others who endorsed this crucial public witness to the sanctity of life.”
Among others who were newer to the effort were larger numbers of Chinese Canadians, who used the weekend as a pro-life fundraising effort
There was some coverage of LifeChain in mainstream media. CTV news reported on LifeChain and many local papers provided some coverage, usually with a photo and cutline. But a few ran a full story. The Sudbury Star began its story by saying that a local couple “have shown their compassion for the unborn fetus for the last 15 years.” The Brantford Expositor even asked the question: “When will the pendulum of social debate over the abortion issue move back in favour of the pro-life movement?” and provided the report that participation doubled this year in that town, a “hopeful sign.”