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Canadian cities joins thousands in U.S. in ‘March for Our Lives’ event

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 26th, 2018

More than a dozen Canadian cities hosted marches Saturday to call for stricter gun control laws in both Canada and the United States in the wake of a deadly high school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla.

In both Montreal and Toronto, several hundred people joined local events in support of the massive March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., which was organized by American students calling for change in the wake of the tragedy.

In one of Montreal’s two marches, hundreds of protesters swayed together singing to the tune of “Glory, Hallelujah” before setting off towards the city’s U.S. Consulate.

Ellen Gozansky Malka, a Montrealer now living in Parkland, told the crowd that two of her children were at the school during the shooting and saw things no child should see.

“Our children should never fear going to school, and they should never jump at the sound of a book falling on the floor,” she said to appreciative applause.

“This will have a lasting effect on our community. We have to make sure this will never happen again anywhere, anywhere in the world.”

A few blocks away, a slightly smaller event was organized by 11-year-old elementary school student Lexington Vickery, who led about 150 cheering classmates and supporters on a raucous march in support of American children.

“Its about making them feel better, and making them feel more supported and working to help them so they can have more courage to go to the government and get their gun legislation,” the sixth-grader explained in an interview beforehand.

In Toronto, marchers carried signs protesting both gun violence in the United States and recent shootings that have plagued the city as they marched from a downtown square to the U.S. Consulate.

Police have said that last weekend, an innocent man was gunned down in a “cowardly” attack after visiting friends. The following day, two people were shot and killed outside of a bowling alley – one of the victims was allegedly targeted, and the other was described by police as a bystander.

“I think it’s important to have this march today in solidarity with students in the United States because gun violence is taking its toll on families, individuals, communities across North America. In Toronto we’ve seen a hundred per cent increase in gun violence homicides over the last three years,” said Louis March, a co-founder of Toronto’s Zero Gun Violence Movement.

“We can do better.”

Ocean Le, who attended the Toronto event, said the worldwide rallies show that gun violence is “a global problem.”

“The fact that we have Canadians here marching alongside Americans and for people around the world is a great sign that we’re not individual countries, we’re just humans,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to attend the march in Washington, D.C., with smaller gatherings to take place in hundreds of cities across the world.

Rallies were also planned in most major Canadian cities, including St. John’s, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.

Melissa Hennig, a survivor of the Oct. 1 mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, joined about 150 people for a rally outside the Alberta legislature in Edmonton.

“While I don’t know the ins and outs of assault rifles, I can tell you what it’s like to be on the other end of one,” the Edmonton-area woman told the crowd. She said it’s difficult to talk about the “terror, confusion and panic.”

“I can tell you something more needs to be done—something more than thoughts and prayers.”

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers and their supporters rallied in Washington, D.C. and cities across America.

Organizers hoped their protest would match in numbers and spirit last year’s women’s march, one of the biggest protests in the capital since the Vietnam era and one that far exceeded predictions of 300,000 demonstrators.

Bearing signs reading “We Are the Change,” “No More Silence” and “Keep NRA Money Out of Politics,” protesters packed Pennsylvania Avenue from the stage near the Capitol, stretching many blocks back toward the White House.

“We will continue to fight for our dead friends,” Delaney Tarr, a survivor of the Florida tragedy, declared from the stage. The crowd roared with approval as she laid down the students’ central demand: a ban on “weapons of war” for all but warriors.

“It’s pretty simple for me,” said Zoe Tate, 11, from Gaithersburg Middle School in Maryland, explaining why she marched in Washington. “I think guns are dumb. It’s scary enough with the security guards we have in school. We don’t need teachers carrying guns now. I find it amazing that I have to explain that idea to adults.”

Said her mother, Maria Blaeuer: “For our kids, feeling safe is fundamental, and they don’t feel safe.”

Large rallies also unfolded in such cities as Boston; New York; Chicago; Houston; Fort Worth, Texas; Minneapolis; and Parkland, Fla.

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