Christina Lee Fast tells the hundreds gathered at the first Toronto March for Life May 9 that her life as a woman with Down Syndrome is worth living and so are the four million lives that have been aborted in Canada since 1969. With Fast is her boyfriend, Matthew Gregory. Photo by Mickey Conlon

Toronto’s first March for Life makes powerful statement

By 
  • May 9, 2019

Christina Lee Fast is an athlete. She bowls and does track and field. She’s in love with her boyfriend, she’s learning to make her way around the kitchen, is better at housework than her mother, runs her own small business and is a young lady enjoying life to the fullest.

“My life is worth living and so are the four million lives that have been aborted (in Canada since 1969),” the Special Olympian, who was born with Down Syndrome, told those gathered on the front lawn of Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto during the inaugural Toronto March for Life May 9.

Fast was one of a number of pro-life activists and politicians to address several hundred gathered for the rally, held at the same time the National March for Life was taking place in Ottawa. The national march is organized by Campaign Life Coalition with smaller rallies in provincial capitals nationwide while the new Toronto march was sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR), the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada and Toronto and Area Right to Life.

The March for Life is held to mark the anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada. This year marked the 50th anniversary since Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s omnibus bill was passed.

Fast considers herself one of the lucky ones. She had a mother who carried her to full term. That’s not the norm today. Statistics show about 90 per cent of mothers carrying a Down Syndrome child will abort their baby.

“These are people with great potential who need to be alive,” an emotional Fast said to sustained applause, before going on to plead for the crowd be a voice for the pre-born.

“You can make a difference. Please make a difference,” said Fast. “Life is precious for everyone.”

It’s a voice being heard around the world, said Jonathan van Maren, communications director with CCBR. He noted similar marches have drawn thousands not only to Ottawa and provincial capitals, but in Argentina, Guatemala, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, the U.S. and beyond. These voices have overtaken the pro-choice voices including a small but vociferous counter-protesting crowd blowing whistles and yelling to drown out march speakers who are “threatened by you because they know we speak for the unborn child in the womb … and people will listen,” said van Maren.

“You are standing in solidarity … with millions around the world who know what you know,” he said. 

ARPA’s Mike Schouten told the crowd it isn’t enough to just be there. Voices need to be heard in political corridors throughout Canada. Standing in front of the Ontario Legislature “can’t be the closest we get,” he said.

“Progress for preborn children is not made at a rally like this,” said Schouten, ARPA’s director of advocacy. It’s hoped the march and workshops that followed “will equip you to lead many more Canadians to care deeply and to care loudly, working prudently, effectively and strategically to mobilize millions of Canadians for the purpose of passing laws to protect our preborn neighbours.”

Some of those politicians joined the rally outside Queen’s Park. Conservative MPPs Will Bouma, Christine Mitas and Sam Oosterhoff spoke to the crowd and promised their support for the cause.

“It’s OK to stand for life,” Bouma said to a rousing round of applause. “We are not anti-abortion, we are pro-life.”

Mitas, who has a three-month-old child who she was carrying in the womb during the 2018 provincial election campaign, said people encouraged her to abort the child as it would only be a burden on her political career. Looking at her child, who joined her on stage, she said she couldn’t imagine doing that and encouraged the crowd to “stand up for (life) issues.”

Oosterhoff said he pledges “to open the eyes of the nation” to show “life is worth fighting for.”

“Be for life today and every day, not just May 9,” he said.

Maaike Rosendal, a speaker with CCBR, brought an example of what the fight is all about to the rally. At 34 weeks pregnant, she played the robust heartbeat of her pre-born child to the crowd before telling the crowd, “Human beings who should be protected by law aren’t and that’s why we are here.”

When the rally wrapped up, participants were encouraged to join a number of workshops taking place over the afternoon. Topics up for discussion were educating the public, supporting those in need and how to be an advocate for human rights.


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Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.