A protest to counter the 1 Million March 4 Children far outnumbered the original march in Vancouver Wednesday (Sept. 20).
The 1 Million March 4 Children was billed as “uniting diverse backgrounds and faiths, we share a resolute purpose: advocating for the elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.”
The Vancouver march was planned for 1 p.m., starting on Robson Street with about 100 to 200 supporters. It was one of dozens of marches planned across the country and the organizers encouraged a nationwide school walkout.
As a result many communities across the country planned counter protests, with Vancouverites planning theirs on the southern steps of Vancouver Art Gallery at noon. A crowd more than triple that of the marchers jammed into Robson Square for speeches and chants in support of SOGI in B.C. schools and for trans rights.
Around 1 p.m. first the marchers, then the counter-marchers began to make their way down Burrard Street, before finally heading to Jack Poole Plaza, next to the Vancouver Convention Centre where the Union of B.C. Municipalities is having its annual convention.
There, the 1 Million March had a stage set up for speeches, but the counter-protesters chanted to try and drown them out.
Throughout the protests and marching, Vancouver Police officers lined themselves up to separate the opposing groups.
Vancouver Police Const. Tania Visintin told Black Press Media Thursday (Sept. 21) that the department deployed extra officers for the protest and “while there were some minor confrontations between people with opposing views, there were no significant public safety issues.”
Visintin said one person was briefly arrested for breach of peace and removed from the area.
Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim condemned the 1 Million March. In an emailed statement hours before the event he said “we are being confronted by ignorance and bigotry, and we must always call it out and stand with those who are impacted.”
“We can never allow ourselves to let hate win the day. So to all 2SLGBTQI+ individuals, know this, we see you and we value you. You are important and we stand with you.”
Elsewhere in the province, Victoria Police asked the counter protesters to leave the area around the B.C. legislature as it had become “unsafe.”
In a “myth-busting” document, the B.C. government notes that SOGI is not a dedicated curriculum. It’s meant to offer a set of resources such as in physical and health education it can include exploring and describing “factors that shape personal identities, including social and cultural factors,” which could include sexuality and sexual identity as a factor that shapes personal identity.”
SOGI is aimed at making school spaces more inclusive. The provincial government says classroom activities are designed to provide age-appropriate learning opportunities to help students understand the impacts of discrimination and improve awareness and understanding of the diverse people around them.