Hundreds of people gathered in the centre of Greater Sudbury Sept. 20, some as part of the One Million March for Children, a nationwide protest, and the others to drown what they say is little more than hate speech.
Locally at least, the One Million March for Children has links to the Freedom Convoy movement, with the majority of the event planning taking place in a Sudbury area convoy social media group.
While a similar protest at the Rainbow District School Board office in June attracted around 40 anti-2SLGBTQ+ protesters, and some 200 counter-protesters, this week’s event saw approximately 600 people, fairly evenly split on both sides of the issue.
Around 10 Greater Sudbury Police officers were on hand, and at one point separated the two groups to minimize potential conflicts between them.
There were also close to 50 children present, as part of the march’s protest action was a school walkout, with parents who supported the march asked to pull their children from school.
There was a great deal of chanting from the counter-protestors, many sporting rainbow colours and carrying flags representing 2SLGBTQ+ support. There were many signs, including one that read “Everything they tried to teach me in sex ed I’d already googled.”
Chants of “love not hate,” “Trans rights” and “What do we want? Trans rights!” abounded.
The chants from the One Million March for Children marchers were more varied. “Leave our children alone,” was a consistent refrain, but so was “Freedom,” and the repetition of “Canada,” with the waving of Canadian flags in response.
The Million March protesters demand the removal of gender information from the Ontario curriculum, to be replaced with trades training and teaching “kids how to do their taxes. " One of the main speakers at the event suggested the group look up “Agenda 2030,” a reference to the United Nations’s 17 sustainable development goals.
There were also several biblical references, signs asking trans people to “repent” as well as one that read “sende (sic) the demons back to hell.”
There was not much love for the media on scene either. Sudbury.com’s reporter was singled out on scene and called various names, including “troll,” “scumbag” and “mole.”
At one point, the reporter was surrounded by several marchers. One individual repeatedly followed our reporter and attempted to block her camera. Another Million March protester attempted to knock the camera from her hands.
Despite the rhetoric and high emotions, there were no physical scuffles and no arrests were made.