An assortment of protest signs are arranged in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa Sept. 20 at the 1 Million March 4 Children protest. Photo by Arpad Nagy

Marchers were united around a shining truth

  • October 12, 2023

On an ordinary weekday, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, tens of thousands of ordinary Canadians took to the streets of our major cities and sleepy towns to protest the extraordinary promotion of gender ideology to children and youth in our schools. They called it “The 1 Million March 4 Children.” Seemingly out of nowhere, passionate parents, concerned citizens and fed-up youth took to the streets to peacefully protest the deluge, the unrelenting onslaught of often explicit and graphic LGBTQ+ issues being highlighted in cross-curricular fashion from pre-K through to high school graduation.

Suddenly, the well-organized and well–funded gender lobby no longer had a corner on catchy slogans. Homemade signs dotted the processions: “Education Not Indoctrination,” “Stop Sexualizing Our Children,”  “Let Kids Be Kids,” and the very chantable: “Leave the Kids Alone!” On hand were smaller groups of counter protesters, also including parents and students. However, when approached by news media to explain why they were gathered in the streets, to explain their side of the story, none could articulate their stance. In fact, they refused to speak, and only continued chanting about protecting trans kids’ rights.

Many counter protesters wore face masks (the ski kind), and blocked cameras with opened umbrellas. I have seen this behaviour repeatedly for a few years: an almost complete lack of desire or preparedness to engage in discourse of any kind in public by those who have much to say in the classroom. The word “hate” was hurled at the marchers, who, when interviewed, responded: “We don’t hate anyone; we just want to protect the kids.” The marchers were often eloquent when interviewed, speaking as individuals, from their own hearts, with unique perspectives and convictions. One middle-aged man stood alone with a sign that read: “Trans Against Gender Ideology.” He told reporters: “Look, I’m trans. I have a rare mental illness that it’s not necessary for kids to learn about.”

If the 2SLGBTQIA+ agenda had been subtly and slowly introduced into schools, the graduality may have allowed it to be more surreptitiously integrated with little pushback. But the sheer aggressiveness, ostentation and ubiquity of it all (drag queen shows in Catholic high schools?), “Pride Month” dribbling into Pride Summer and then year-round was excessive and exhausting, and excluded a panoply of other youth concerns. Where is the autistic flag? What about a cancer survivor flag?

But ask yourself, don’t you think these marchers took a page from the Freedom Convoy playbook? Would there have been a 1 Million March 4 Children without it? Canada will never be the same since the winter of 2022. Average Canadians realized they have a voice and, in a free country, we should use it. Ignore your rights and they’ll go away. Like the genesis of the convoy, it took a handful of thoughtful, committed souls, often disparate in other ways, united around a shining truth.

Tamara Lich, Andrew Lawton and others are publishing books about the convoy phenomenon that caught the world by surprise. I recently listened to a fascinating interview with Benjamin Dichter (his book is Honking for Freedom) who was tapped by convoy organizers with the unwieldy task of managing the news media as well as the internal and external messaging of the loosely affiliated movement. (Dichter had been a politico and business owner until the pandemic restrictions when he turned trucker in order to move freely between Canada and the U.S.) 

Two elements from the interview struck me. First, the fact Dichter is a self-described lefty. He was appalled that “freedom” started to be associated with conservatives. Second, Dichter is connected with folks who serve in politics who told him that during the period of the pandemic restrictions, slews of Canadians were calling authorities to report their neighbours who were not complying. Naturally, this also horrified him. What does he advise?

“Talk to your neighbours. Get to know them. Don’t let the powers that be turn you against each other. The day may come when we will only have each other to rely on.”

But how can we talk to supporters (even within our families and social circles) of gender ideology in schools if they are closed-in and non-communicative? Maybe we simply need to keep trying… and marching when necessary.

(Sr. Burns, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA. Twitter: @srhelenaburns.)

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