Thousands rally at Canada’s March for Life

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Thousands of pro-life advocates gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, May 9, 2024, for Canada's 27th annual National March for Life. (OSV News photo / Peter Stockland, The Catholic Register)

OTTAWA, Ontario (OSV News) — Thousands of pro-life advocates packed onto Parliament Hill and spilled out onto Wellington Street May 9 for Canada’s 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 unborn children and other vulnerable persons.

The March’s theme of “I will never forget you” was taken from God’s poignant question to the people of Israel in Isaiah 49, emphasizing his enduring relationship with them: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?”

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

Notable speakers and participants at Canada’s March for Life

Speakers included high-profile U.S. pro-life 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 Father Daniel Szwarc, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, who had traveled to Ottawa from the Arctic Circle, together with three young women engaged in pro-life 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.”

A Sister of Life stands near a sign in French that translates to “National March for Life.” Thousands of pro-life advocates gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, May 9, 2024, for Canada’s 27th annual National March for Life. (OSV News photo / Peter Stockland, The Catholic Register)

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

Conservative members of Parliament 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.

Personal stories highlighted

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.” Comrie said 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, 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, elders, school children and loud teenagers were women who had found themselves, like Comrie, in situations where they felt pressured and alone.

Encouragement for women facing difficult choices

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, she decided she “just couldn’t do it.”

A Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 22, 2017. Thousands of pro-life advocates packed onto Parliament Hill May 9 for Canada’s 27th annual National March for Life. (OSV News photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters)

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, Canada’s national Catholic newspaper, 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.”

Ranson said, “I want other women to know that even if it is difficult, it will be OK 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.”

OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.