Pro-life supporters march in this year's March for Life in Ottawa. Photo by Peter Stockland

'I will never forget you', March for Life theme

  • May 11, 2024

Thousands of pro-lifers packed onto Parliament Hill and spilled out onto Wellington Street May 9 for the 27th annual National March for Life.

The diverse crowd gathered on the Hill at noon with its members bearing both homemade and professionally crafted signs pledging them to stand fast for the unborn and vulnerable.

The March’s theme of “I will never forget you” was taken from the prophet Isaiah’s poignant question: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?”

The rally and march were live broadcast by US cable network EWTN.

Speakers included high-profile U.S. prolife speaker and author Abby Johnson, President of 40 Days for Life Shawn Carney, and Campaign Life Coalition Vice-Chair Jeff Gunnarson.

The opening prayer was led by Fr. Daniel Szwarc OMI who had traveled to Ottawa from the Arctic Circle, together with three young women engaged in prolife activities in their small Inuit village of Naujaat.

Diana Kringayark told the crowd that every week she and the other women buy baby products to distribute to 40 village families to show that “every baby is important.”

Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Damphousse encouraged the marchers to act with “courage, compassion and conviction.”

Conservative MPs Cathay Wagantall and Arnold Viersen were the only federal politicians to address the crowd. In her brief speech, Wagantall emphasized that advocating for the unborn and the vulnerable is particularly difficult for Canadian politicians. But she hailed the number of young people in the crowd as a sign of hope.

“If you think it is a battle out here, you know it is a battle in there,” the Saskatchewan MP said, indicating the Houses of Parliament behind her.

Angelina Steenstra, of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, introduced Nathalia Comrie, a young woman who, at 17 was pregnant and felt that “abortion was the only choice my family would accept.” She says she was told that “everything would go back to normal after the abortion.” 

“That was a lie,” Comrie said. After years of depression and substance abuse, she was introduced to the Sisters of Life, and through them to other women who, like her, who had suffered as the result of abortion.

“I will never forget my son Kaeden. He is why I am silent no more,” Comrie said.

In the crowd of clergy, habited religious sisters, elderly, school children and loud teenagers were women who had found themselves, like Comrie, in situations where they felt pressured and alone.

Christa Ranson came to the March for Life from Montreal because she knew what it was to have considered abortion.

Ranson had been scheduled to undergo an abortion on two separate occasions. The first time she was actually on the table being prepped for the abortion when she decided not to go through with it. The second time, after hearing her son’s heartbeat by ultrasound, Comrie decided she “just couldn’t do it.”

Ranson says she now tells her son, “I loved you when you were just a heartbeat.”

When asked why it was important for her to come to the March for Life, she told The Catholic Register that it was to let women know there is a choice other than abortion.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that, when you are on that table, those babies are living, they have a heart, they have feelings.”

“I want other women to know that even if it is difficult, it will be okay and it is worth it. If women are making the decision because of health reasons, or financial reasons, they should reach out. There are resources out there, there are doctors out there who will help.”

"Later in the day, over 700 people gathered at the Ottawa Conference Center for the Rose Dinner Gala. Both the National March for Life and the Rose Dinner are organized and sponsored by Campaign Life Coalition.

CLC Vice-Chair Gunnarson announced at the outset that the 27th March for Life had been dedicated to “pro-life stalwarts” Angelina and Walter Steenstra.

With the encouragement of both her husband and the late Fr. Vince Heffernan, Steenstra is responsible for bringing the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to Canada.

While diners enjoyed their meal, key-note speakers Johnson and Carney were interviewed in a relaxed, armchair-style setting by Ruth Robert, CLC Atlantic Region Coordinator, 

When asked about the situation in the US since the 2022 Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the constitutional right to abortion, both Johnson and Carney warned the Canadian crowd not to “put all your faith in law.”

“Don’t believe the law is going to be your savior. Don’t believe a politician is going to save you,” said Johnson.

Despite the stark reminder that the legal environment cannot change hearts and minds, Carney was encouraging.

“Don’t give up. Ignore the noise. Go to work where you can and trust God.”

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