A man shouts slogans at the first 1 Million March 4 Children in Calgary Sept. 20. A second nationwide rally is planned for Oct. 21. Quinton Amundson

Parental rights march returning

  • October 12, 2023

While proponents on either side will debate just how many people were drawn to last month’s 1 Million March 4 Children, the one thing that is clear is the nationwide demonstrations have got people talking.

Kamel El-Cheikh, the creator of the 1 Million March 4 Children, claims over 1.5 million Canadians protested Sept. 20 against children being exposed to gender ideology in schools. Conversely, mainstream media outlets insisted these rallies from coast-to-coast drew “thousands” of activists.

Pinpointing the true scale of the first campaign is a crapshoot, but what no one can argue is the protest achieved its goal by generating enormous buzz and debate.

Pete Baklinski, a spokesperson for Campaign Life Coalition, characterized the day as “a galvanizing moment for the pro-family movement.

“More than anything, the day showed that parents are the ones with the real power and that the parental rights movement has gained unstoppable momentum,” wrote Baklinski in an email. “This is only the beginning of what will be a long and arduous fight. LGBT activists will fight tooth and nail to keep the ground they have gained in our public institutions. But, with patient endurance, with prayer, with a planned course of action, and with keeping our eyes fixed on God, parents shall overcome.”

The Muslim parents organizing group, Hands Off Our Kids, is just getting warmed up. Another national 1 Million March 4 Children is slated for Oct. 21.

“We heard requests from all across Canada,” said El-Cheikh, who is based in Ottawa. “People told us, ‘please do us another march. We thought it was going to be small, but then we saw over 1.5 million people. You’ve won our hearts and now we want to march.’ This is going to be a bigger march.”

This cause is largely powered by united Muslims and Christians, and has been gaining some traction in the halls of power. First was in New Brunswick when Premier Blaine Higgs’ government brought in a law saying parents must be informed if children under the age of 16 wished to change their pronouns. New Brunswick was soon followed by Saskatchewan, and then more.

These moves have been derided as “hateful” by government leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, school boards and associations, and a host of organizations friendly to the LGBT community.

“I was ready for (the backlash),” said El-Cheikh. “There is a lot of propaganda about Pride day, Pride week, Pride month, Pride season and Pride year. I imagine that there would be a pushback.

“All we are asking for is hands off the kids, parental rights up until age 18, and then from there the kids can decide. We are asking for something so fundamental but difficult for these (minority) groups.”

The second march is one of many irons in the fire. The Hands Off Our Kids leaders are completing “indoctrination audits” of school associations and boards to analyze if there are any questionable policies, campaigns or lesson plans worthy of pushback via peaceful protests. The organization already mobilized supporters to rally outside the offices of the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board and the Peel District School Board in late September. El-Cheikh said he is working to help Hands Off Our Kids launch in the United Kingdom and Australia as well.

El-Cheikh is also engaged in discussions with Canadian Christian pastors, hoping to get them to join the growing ranks.

Catholic bishops and priests have essentially remained silent over this movement, except for Bishop Paul-Marwan Tabet, who shepherds the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Saint Maron of Montreal. He released a letter on Sept. 15 stating he supported the Maronite faithful who chose to take part in the march.

“It is important to remember, at this time, that parents are the primary educators of their children,” wrote Tabet. “They cannot be excluded from the discussion about the curriculum to be delivered to their own children nor should the schools usurp the parental role and undermine parental authority (by) promoting, in Catholic schools, teachings that are not in full conformity with the values of our Christian families, and the teachings of the Catholic Church. The influence of any agenda, including the LGBTQ+ agenda, should not supersede or contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church in our schools.”

Baklinski said “Catholic leaders in Canada have largely been missing in action in this battle.”

“There is a spirit of cowardice in many Catholic leaders when it comes to the Church’s sexual moral teachings,” he said. “It is something that must be overcome. The Muslims are showing the way.”

During the recent annual plenary assembly of the Canadian bishops, Imam Abdul Hai Patel urged the bishops to join with the Muslim community in standing against the “anti-faith” forces in society.

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