Getting on the bus with pro-lifers and "March for Life" at BC's Parliament
WE CHOOSE LIFE
By 2pm, about two thousand pro-lifers had assembled in Centennial Square. Then, a few minutes later, a group composed of high school students holding a giant “March for Life BC” banner lead the marchers out of the square, down Government street toward the BC Legislature.
The Knights of Columbus provided many of the rest of the protesters with placards that read, “WE CHOOSE LIFE.”
These K of C provisions proved mildly controversial among the prolifers in that they weren't, really, controversial at all. In fact, it took most bemused bystanders a few too many beats to realize that they were witnessing a pro-life rally, rather than just an oddly large group of Trainspotting fans.
“If there's any point to this at all,” White said, examining his placard, “it should be to agitate people.”
He didn't have to wait long – about five seconds later, the group received its first drive-by heckle. “I like vaginas!” hollered a twenty-something man. “You guys are horrible people!”
Bystander Nicholas Van Seters told me that while he supported the marchers' freedom of expression, he didn't agree with their views. “I've been in the situation where I had to have a child aborted,” he said. “I feel abortion is right in some circumstances. Every child deserves a parent, but not every parent deserves a child.”
A little further down the road, Cecilia Fraser was snapping photos of marchers. “I'm disgusted,” she said. “They don't have the right to shame women for their decisions.”
For the most part though, the march went off without a hitch, and without a counter-protest. There was even one woman who came across the marchers, smiled widely, and joined them for a few blocks before heading back to work.
“We are the courageous ambassadors of the culture of life,” 18-year-old Alexandra Jerierski, founder of the campaign Letters for Life, told the group after they'd reached parliament.
The parliamentary lawn was temporarily home to hundreds of teenagers – mostly Catholic high schoolers, who were bussed in from Vancouver and Victoria and their environs. Jerierski referred to her age cohort as “survivors of abortion,” lamenting their missing friends, siblings, and even potential spouses.
“Every year they get younger and they get more filled with joy,” said rally MC Pavel Reid, as Jerierski wrapped up.
Much has been made of the increase in youth involvement in the prolife movement. My coach bus seatmate Faye Wall had a slightly different perspective. (Wall, a Mennonite, also attended her first Catholic Mass on Thursday. “I got blessed!” she told me.)
Wall said that she was planning to get more involved in the prolife movement after retirement.
“There's a whole raft of us retiring in the next five to ten years,” she added. “We're from the sixties and we know protest.”
On the ferry back to Vancouver, the demographics of the pro-life movement were clear. High schoolers filled the cafeteria line-ups (exasperating ferry workers, who struggled to keep up with the demand for bacon cheeseburgers), and senior citizens found comfortable seats where they could eat their brown-bagged dinners in peace.
The hallways were full of clusters of high schoolers and chaperones. A group of girls played a scrubbed-clean hand clap game, bereft of the salty language I remember it containing; pro-life selfies abounded. Older folks talked about the strength of the day's musical selections, and eyed the noisy teens like they were both a blessing and a curse.