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Calgary Says 'No' to Gender Ideology at the #1MillionMarch4Children
Canadians have finally had enough
On Wednesday, September 20, I attended the 1MillionMarch4Children, the largest protest against gender ideology that Canada has ever seen. Not only was there an incredible turnout here in Calgary, but the protest took place across Canada, in multiple cities in every time zone. It was the result of several groups and coalitions from various backgrounds, including political groups, religious groups, and gender critical organizations.
Blueprint for Canada, a non-partisan anti-woke education platform, consolidated a lot of information about the protests and provided a great summary of the issues they are hoping to give attention. Here is a slightly abridged version:
Parental rights in public K-12 education and strict enforcement of related policies in our children's schools.
"Gender ideology" in the K-12 educational curriculum.
Age inappropriate sexual content in school libraries.
"Woke ideology" which promotes animosity, division, and ultimately hate in our schools and communities.
We call for a ban on so-called medical “gender-affirming care" for minors under the age of 18.
We call for a national referendum on the removal of "gender identity" and "gender expression" from the federal and provincial human rights codes.
Momentum for the protest had been building for some time leading up to it, reaching a fever pitch in the past week. Over the weekend, a leaked video surfaced of Canadian labor and union leaders meeting to plan counterprotests and ways to disrupt the marches throughout Canada. In the video, the protest organizers, most of whom are concerned parents, were repeatedly called hateful, bigoted, Nazis, and fascists.
On September 16th, CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) Ontario also posted that the protesters were organized by the “ultra-conservative right.”
A friend likewise sent me a Google document titled “September 20th Counter Protests Masterlist” which stoked this rhetoric:
The far-right across Canada are angry about pride month and 2SLGBTQIA+ education. Many of them want provincial governments to enact laws simialr to the “don’t say gay” bills in the United States that ban the mention of anything related to sexual orientation and gender identity within public education.
There was a counterprotest listed for Calgary, as well as a “community safety advisory.”
I had no idea what to expect going into the protest. I knew there would be a counterprotest. I also didn’t know how welcome I and the gay friends I was joining would feel among those on our side.
Well, it turns out I had nothing to worry about. The atmosphere at the march was welcoming and jubilant. My friend and I arrived at 9 a.m. at the Harry Hays government building and quickly found a couple of our other friends. There was already a good turnout and it was growing by the minute.
In the initial half an hour, I would say the counter-protest on the other side of the street was about the same size, as they had mobilized early and even covered our side of the street with chalk messages like “trans rights now” and “trans people exist. Choose LOVE.”
By around 10 a.m., however, we far outnumbered the rainbow brigade and were only continuing to grow in number.
The other side was heavily masked up and had some Antifa-looking characters and a couple of very emotionally charged screaming women who looked ready for an altercation, but things stayed peaceful. There was a heavy police presence and we were separated by a busy road. One man walked through our crowd holding his middle fingers aloft and the police quickly ushered him out before anything could happen.
There was a heavy police presence throughout the whole event keeping the two sides separated. But, mostly, they were there to control traffic and keep the crowd from spilling out onto the road.
By 11 a.m. the crowd had swelled and filled up every available bit of space outside of the building. There was some live music and some speeches, and finally, it was time to march.
The march was by far my favorite part of the whole event. It was electric. It was also a fantastic chance to really get a feel for the crowd, which was diverse and filled with people from all walks of life. I got to meet, say hi to, shake hands with, and even hug a dizzying array of people.
We marched for several blocks in downtown Calgary, following a route that looped around and eventually took us back to the Harry Hays building. It seemed like we only continued to pick people up along the way and I was genuinely stunned by how large the crowd had grown by the time we finished.
Cars were honking as we passed, people were talking and laughing and having a great time, and many were walking with their young children as well.
The counter-protestors may have been clad in stripes of various colors but, if you want to talk real diversity, it would be a fool’s errand to look for it there. Racially, religiously, politically, and ideologically, the pro-child safeguarding side easily took the inclusivity prize.
At the steps of Olympic Plaza, overlooking the crowd as it marched past, I had to pause and take it all in. Though I write about a lot of things related to gender ideology, the issue of indoctrination in schools was my first focus. I’ve written a lot in particular on the SOGI 1 2 3 program and, at the time I was doing that, it felt like an insurmountable hurdle to get parents to wake up and see what was going on. Now, I was surrounded by hundreds of people who also care.
Back at the start, we stayed for a few more speeches, which were largely religious in theme. The event was mainly planned by Muslim organizers and there was a strong Christian contingent as well. But the turnout itself was very diverse and I did not get the impression that the vast majority there were motivated from a purely religious point of view.
Either way, nothing that was said made me feel unwelcome or uneasy, or that the organizers and participants were targeting gay or even trans people at all. There was no hate towards the other side. There were no demands to silence them. The focus was entirely on children and on parents’ rights.
In fact, one man saw my friend Neil’s sign, with its rainbow embellishments, and was initially a bit confused about which side he was on and might have mistakenly thought that Neil was gay (well, he was with a bunch of gays). However, he made it very clear that “we don’t have a problem with those people, we accept everyone. This is about kids.”
Neil’s wonderful sign, by the way, was a hit, with many people asking to take pictures of it and saying they agreed with the message. But I’m going to have to award the best sign of the march to a good dog that was there marching with his two small humans.
It was an amazing and inspiring day, and I am so happy I had the opportunity to attend. To see that something like this is possible in Canada has to mean that we are not irredeemably lost. I’m not naive — I know that our institutions are still completely captured and that it will take a while to see real change, but it certainly feels like something has shifted.
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