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Anti-SOGI protest to fill streets of downtown Chilliwack

March results in messages of pre-emptive support going out to LGBTQ2S+ community
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Chilliwack is one of several cities to host a 1 Million March 4 Children on Sept. 20, 2023 going from the Spadina Avenue parking to at Five Corners at 10 a.m. (ProtectChildhoodInnocence.com)

The T-shirts printed for the 1 Million March 4 Children slated for Wednesday (Sept. 20) in Chilliwack had four words on them: “Leave our kids alone.”

The Chilliwack event is being billed as a ‘family-friendly, and peaceful’ march aimed at stopping “the sexualization” of children in public schools, which they attribute to provincial educational materials known as SOGI, which stands for for sexual orientation, gender identity.

Supporters would be gathering on Spadina Avenue at 9 a.m. before heading to Five Corners for the rally at 10 a.m.

“We march for their innocence and their future,” reads the tagline on the website for the rallies at: https://millionmarch4children.squarespace.com.

“This is an organic movement,” according to the Chilliwack march poster. “We are brothers and sisters in humanity coming together peacefully to protect our children. Everyone, regardless of faith or belief, is warmly invited to march alongside us in unity and friendship.”

Despite the organizers claiming “this march isn’t anti-gay or anti-trans,” the event has resulted in several messages of pre-emptive support going out to the LGBTQ2S+ community in Chilliwack.

‘Love is Louder - Healing Through Community’ event is set for Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Sardis Park, put on by Hi Neighbour Sardis Community Initiative by United Way.

“United Way of BC and The B.C. Federation of Labour stand firmly and proudly with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the face of a surge in anti-trans hate speech and actions across the country.

“The same forces are now coalescing in hate rallies in communities throughout Canada and B.C. on Sept. 20.

“The only way we can move through this force of hate and discrimination and heal is by being together, creating spaces for conversation, community, belonging and togetherness, and justice action.”

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association put out a statement on Sept. 19 reaffirming a commitment to protect schools as safe and inclusive spaces, and defending SOGI.

“Teachers strongly believe that all students have the right to a safe and inclusive learning environment. We reject discrimination and bullying in all forms, and we are dedicated to supporting and advocating for our LGBTQ2S+ members, students, and families,” said Reid Clark, president of the teachers’ association.

SOGI materials are an educational resource which ensure a respectful and inclusive environment in the classroom.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)-inclusive resources should not be controversial,” Clark said. “They are about ensuring that all students and their families are reflected in school materials. They also protect students and staff against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, in accordance with the BC Human Rights Code — provincial law.”

It’s about students feeling safe.

“We believe that every student has the right to feel safe, valued, and supported in our schools. By affirming our commitment to SOGI-inclusive resources, we are sending a powerful message that we stand with our LGBTQ2S+ students and families and that we will do everything in our power to create an inclusive and accepting educational environment.”

Chilliwack Citizens For Change put out a statement saying they are worried about a local version of the 1 Million March 4 Children.

“We don’t know exactly what to do about this planned hate march,” the group of Chilliwack community advocates wrote. “It makes many people feel powerless.”

They’re concerned that a counter protest may become necessary.

“But we don’t want to give any credence or fuel to the misguided position of these groups that are spreading hateful lies, or put our community in harm’s way,” wrote the group of CCFC members in a letter signed by Eryne Croquet, Christopher Hunt, Lisa Morry, Peter Lang, Kim Mallory, Ian Carmichael, and Teri Westerby.

The office of B.C. Human Rights Commissioner also condemned the 1 Million March 4 Children as a “hate-fuelled” event.

Commissioner Kasari Govender sent out a public statement Sept. 19, the day before the national march.

“I am very disturbed by news of hate fuelled marches planned for Sept. 20, 2023, in several places across B.C.

“The right to peaceful demonstration is an important tool to protect our democracy and generate debate.

“But as Human Rights Commissioner, I want to be very clear: the human rights of trans and LGBTQ2SAI+ people are not up for debate,” Govender underlined. “Denying the existence of trans and gender diverse people—including calls to erase trans and LGBTQ2SAI+ people from our province’s curricula — is hate, and hate should have no place in our community or in our schools.”



Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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