BC March for Life 2010 and Salmon are Sacred: A tale of two peaceful ‘pro-life’ protest rallies in Victoria

I somehow managed to get to the tail end of two important protest rallies at the Leg recently, Alexandra Morton and friends’ Salmon are Sacred rally for wild Pacific salmon, and the B. C. March for Life 2010, primarily concerned with abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In my interconnected, holistic world-view, these two rallies are both ‘pro-life,’ although many in the former movement might deny it for fear of negative connotations associated with that label, and being associated with abortion clinic bombers; and many in the latter movement might not recognize their brothers and sisters in the environmental movement as being part of the solution for future life on this coast because of legitimate concern for job losses.

Nevertheless, there are similarities and differences between the two movements that are instructive for critical analysis.

The first thing I noticed at the salmon rally was the sheer size, age and cultural make-up of the crowd.  There were up to 5,000 of us (according to the estimate of one Victoria Police officer), we were predominantly what could only be described as ‘boomers’ (although there were all age groups represented, of course), and most of the crowd were Caucasian, with a few hundred aboriginal people. 

The Salmon are Sacred rally was well publicized by a number of different groups, with different posters and even different names for the same event.  The advance publicity was actually better than the follow-up coverage in the mainstream media, as far as I could tell.

Many passionate speeches were made, some were self-congratulatory, some were self-serving, and others were frankly irrelevant to the issue at hand.

Anger, fault-finding, and a sense of betrayal were all themes of the speeches.

 It is unclear to me how all this negative energy can be transformed into something more positive, conciliatory and co-operative.

The B. C. March for Life 2010 rally was not so well publicized, and had a smaller, younger, but more diverse crowd.  For some reason, the signage at this rally seems curiously controlled by the Knights of Columbus, and there certainly was not as much creativity shown in the signage as could be found at the salmon rally. 

I saw no advance publicity for this event in the mainstream media, nor posters on kiosks downtown prior to the event.

 For the third year in a row, the organizers insisted on staging the event in the middle of the working week, thus depriving working people of the ability to attend.

I recognized  my friend and single fathers’ advocate and reggae singer Rejean, Roland Wauthy, James O’Reilly, Bishop Richard Gagnon of Victoria and Archbishop Miller of Vancouver in the crowd.

Priests with black suits and Roman collars, nuns in traditional garb, Knights in full regalia, and hundreds of young Asian students were everywhere.  

Indeed, the size of the youth contingent in the crowd was very noticable, and provided a sign of hope for old activists like me.

I don’t worry anymore about when the pro-life idea will prevail in our sick society, but I don’t expect my decadent ‘boomer’ generation to be leading the vanguard.

It is clear that the torch has already been passed by the older generation to the next in the pro-life camp, so there is great hope for eventual victory there.

But forty years after Earth Day 1970, and notwithstanding the large crowd at the salmon rally, I see little real evidence that the fervour of my generation for all things environmental is growing in a similar way.

Victoria Earth Day rally attendance is noticeably down from the glory days of the early nineties when crowds of 7,000 to 9,000 were not unusual.

In fact, if we are not vigilant, I see the whole green movement being co-opted and rendered impotent by nuclear energy fanatics selling that dangerous and costly technology as a supposed improvement over coal or petroleum, in terms of so-called ‘greenhouse gas emissions.’

The resurgence of this nuclear salesmanship activity is a very bad sign of the times, and has quite effectively already rendered the green movement asunder.

I pray that there will be a widening of compassion and concern in both movements for fetal and geriatric rights, for bringing Canadian troops home from Afghanistan, for total nuclear disarmament, for continuing the ban on uranium mining and offshore drilling in B. C., for protecting old growth forests, endangered species and wild salmon.

I pray that we may all be united in our mutual loving concern for our own sacred human life and that of all God’s creatures, great and small.

Gregory Paul Michael Hartnell, Editor

Concerned Citizens’ Coalition Weblog



5 Responses to BC March for Life 2010 and Salmon are Sacred: A tale of two peaceful ‘pro-life’ protest rallies in Victoria

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