The “1 Million Kids March 4” protests are happening across Canada, but an event in Saskatoon on Wednesday hopes to bring a message of love and acceptance once the dust settles.
“I call it space clearing … because this negativity takes a toll on everyone,” said Fran Forsberg, co-organizer of the event which will take place outside the public school board office in Saskatoon at 6:30 p.m.
The website 1 Million March 4 Children, which organized protests across the country on Wednesday, said it was advocating for “the elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed toilets in schools.
Forsberg said his group wanted to bring a more positive light and a more loving atmosphere.
“We just decided we didn’t want to give them more attention in the press than they’re getting. And we also thought we were a little tired of all the negativity and hatred that was spewed.
She said an elder had been invited to the event, adding that they would carry out smudging and cleaning of the space.
Forsberg said they want a more relaxed space, noting that people can sign up to dance or sing at the event.
She said she believes in the parental permission legislation created by Saskatchewan. Party governments are harmful to both children and teachers.
The law requires parental permission if a child under 16 wants to use different names or pronouns at school.
Forsberg has been a foster parent for more than 30 years and says she has seen gender expression be a point of contention in some families.
“I have seen many children and young people being asked to leave their homes, or being evicted, or their parents reacting violently, without supporting them, and asking their children to leave their homes. »
Forsberg said statistics show that gender or s****lity diverse children face more mental health issues on average.
She said in these cases, it’s usually a teacher that these children go to as a support person.
“If they don’t have that support, I’m afraid of what will happen. We’re going to have more homeless kids, we’re going to have more mental health issues among young people.
Forsberg stressed that people should educate themselves on these issues.
“It’s not difficult. I had to do it as a 50-year-old woman who adopted two transgender children. I trained myself, I got involved in the community.
She said that because of this she received death threats and was called a pedophile.
“Please stop hiding your bigotry behind your Bible. »
She said she knows so many affirmative churches who are appalled that these issues are tied to religion.
Among the demonstrations on Wednesday morning, there are also those who oppose the movement.
“The so-called ‘1 Million March 4 Kids’ is part of a growing, organized hate movement in Canada,” the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said in a statement Monday.
The organization said CUPE workers are witnessing the consequences of rising anti-LGBTQ2 hatred themselves.
“On Wednesday, CUPE members will show up to resist hatred in all its forms. We will not allow these movements to attack 2SLGBTQI+ people who need safety, support and solidarity more than ever.
There were two protests in Saskatoon with counter-protesters scattered throughout both crowds.
About 2,000 people were on the streets, joined by protesters and counter-protesters as they marched through the city.
Although there was some aggression on both sides, the Saskatoon Police Service stood watch and intervened when necessary. The majority of protests and counter-protests have been peaceful.
NDP critics Nathaniel Teed and Matt Love were at the protest.
Counterprotesters also pointed the finger at other notable people at the march, including Ken Schultz, a man accused of s****l a*sault in the Legacy Christian Academy investigation.
In fashion now
Premier Scott Moe was in Saskatoon on other matters, but he commented on the protests, saying residents had the option of whether or not to show support for the protest.
He said he was interested in some elements of the report from the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, which highlighted that the government’s recent law on names and pronouns went against human rights.
“We’re looking at the Children Advocate’s report with interest, as it perhaps relates to some of the supports that are available,” Moe said.
He further spoke about the parental permission policy, saying “it intends to be an inclusive policy.”
Moe suggested that parents also be much more active in their children’s lives, adding that they could join their school’s community council.
“When parents are involved in our children’s education, the education system is much more responsive.”
When asked if more time should have been spent developing this policy and having more experts weigh in on the issue, Moe said there had been a lot of discussion among MPs and the parents.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has spoken out about the protests, saying they stem from bigotry.
“The bottom line is this: When they talk about parental rights, they want to be able to deny their children, and those of others, access to education about health and human rights regarding people 2SLGBTQ+, especially an upbringing that sends the message that it’s okay to be queer. It’s not just about policy or pronouns. If you look and listen in their spaces, that’s just the starting point,” said Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
Results from the 2018 Safety in Public and Private Spaces Survey showed that trans people were significantly more likely (59%) to have been physically or s****lly a*saulted than cisgender people (37%).
The survey also showed that 58 percent of trans people in the country have experienced unwanted s****l behavior in public, compared to 23 percent of cisgender people. About 42 percent of trans people have experienced online hara*sment, compared to 16 percent of cisgender people.
Trans people were also significantly more likely to have seriously considered suicide in their lifetime (45 percent compared to 16 percent of cisgender people).
And hate incidents are on the rise. The Saskatoon Police Service’s hate crimes unit reported in June that national hate crime statistics are increasing, noting that there have been more than 200 incidents in 2022 where hate was a component, that it is a crime or not.
“Forty-six times last year a hate crime occurred, and on 10 occasions we laid charges or worked with the Crown to ensure it would be noted during sentencing for these offences,” said Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper.
Trans people also make up a very small portion of the Canadian population, with Statistics Canada noting that they make up about 0.33 percent of the population aged 15 and over.