After failing in its bid to get the City of Kelowna to agree to fly its flag over City Hall, the Kelowna Right To Life Society has found four new flag-flying venues.
The local anti-abortion organization says four local schools—Immaculata Catholic Regional High School, Kelowna Christian Heritage School and St. Joseph’s Elementary in Kelowna, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary in Westbank—have all agreed to fly its Pro Life flag during Protect Human Life Week week Sept. 23-30. The flag will also be flown during the week’s kick-off event, the Walk For Life in Mission Creek Park Sept. 22.
Marlon Bartram, executive director of KRTL, said due to a handful of emails threatening to burn or destroy the flag if it flew over City Hall, all locations will have 24 hour video surveillance of the grounds surrounding their flag poles.
He said schools are a good place to fly the flag, not only because the are some of the few places in the community with flag poles but also because it is good to deliver the organization’s anti-abortion message to young people.
And this year, KRTL is also linking the issue of abortion with declining student numbers across the province.
According to the group, there are 20,000 fewer students in B.C. now than there were five years ago and each year there are about 15,000 abortions performed in B.C.
“Certainly the aborting of 15,000 unborn future students each and every year in B.C. is having a devastating impact,” said Bartram.
And, in a release published on the KRTL Facebook site Monday, Bartram urged the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, which he accused of supporting “radical” pro-abortion groups, to drop that support and get behind his organization’s Protect Human Life Week instead.
“Doing so would help to ensure healthy school enrolments in the future and secure teaching jobs and pensions across the province.”
Inquiries about Immaculata’s participation in the flag flying plan were directed to Bev Pulyk, superintendent of Catholic Schools.
Pulyk said she felt it was fitting for the flags to fly over Catholic schools given that pro-life position was very much part of the Catholic faith.
“I think it is very appropriate,” she said, adding normally the principals of the individual schools would have made the final decision on flying the flags themselves but because of the controversy when the city declined to fly the flag, they sought her approval.
She said teachers at her schools would address any questions about the flag from students “within the confines of our faith” and depending on the age of the students. The issue would not likely be addressed with very young students, she added.
Bartram said while the four schools are “Christian” schools, any school is welcome to fly his group’s flag next week.
Canada has no abortion law and as a result it is legal to end a pregnancy at any point prior to term in Canada. In B.C., it is considered a core medical service by the provincial Ministry of Health and is funded at hospitals. Despite that, small protests continue each week outside Kelowna General Hospital.
Last month the local anti-abortion organization asked for, and received, a proclamation from Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, for the upcoming Protect Human Life Week. The city has issued proclamations for Kelowna Right To Life since 2008.
At the time, KRTL said the city had agreed to fly its flag over City Hall. But the city said it had not agreed but rather, was considering doing so. After hearing both opposition and support in the community, the city changed its flag flying policy to only allow government flags to fly on its courtesy flag pole.
Kelowna’s pro-choice society has said it is reluctant to comment on Kelowna Right To Life’s plans because it does not want to bring attention to its work or the planned Protect Human Life Week.
But spokeswoman Ruth Mellor pointed to the fact abortion services are legally available here and women in Canada have the right to end a pregnancy early.