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‘No space for hate’ at Kelowna rally

Rally held in Stuart Park on Oct. 21

It was lacking the lustre of the march a month earlier when about 500 people gathered in downtown Kelowna for the 1 Million March 4 Children event.

On Saturday, an anti-2SLGBTQIA+ event was held at Stuart Park where approximately 100 people cheered for speeches that called for the abolition of gender-affirming care, including the use of preferred pronouns, gender-diverse education and sex education in public schools.

However, surrounding those with signs of, “Keep your hands off our children,” was a loud unified group of 200 or more singing to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way”, in between chants of “No space for hate,” while proudly waving rainbow and transgender flags.

For this second event, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community came together under the 1 Million Voices For Inclusion to hold a peaceful counter-protest in response to the anti-SOGI 123 event.

In September, advocates from the Kelowna Pride Society and Advocacy Canada chose not to organize a formal counter-protest due to safety concerns and instead held a gender-affirming and inclusive event on Oct. 15.

During the rally against hate, Claire House, from the Kelowna Pride Society said that all people in Kelowna deserve to feel loved and welcomed. House said that it was important to hold an anti-hate rally to show all people that “we belong here, just the way we are.”

Some of the counter-protesters and allies to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community who attended the Sept. 20 event, told Capital News at the time that the rally was filled with anti-queer and hate-filled messages.

That same message rang through a microphone on Oct. 21, by those who claimed to belong to the group Common Law Education and Rights (C.L.E.A.R).

One of those who spoke was David Lindsay, a well-known anti-mandate protester who is currently representing himself in a prolonged criminal trial after being charged with assault, stemming from an incident that took place on Aug. 19, 2021.

Several RCMP officers were in attendance keeping a close eye on the crowd, at times keeping people from opposing sides apart who appeared to get too close to each other, some with signs that read, “stop hurting children” while others had, “We are parents too.”

Approximately six years ago in B.C., an educational resource called Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) was implemented to be used by teachers, families and students with the goal of improving understanding and inclusion for all people in addition to educating people on 2SLGBTQIA+ identities and the issues the queer community faces.

Gender and sexual identity-inclusive education is not a formal class, but rather a resource designed to help educators, parents and students feel more comfortable with their own, and other’s unique identity.

All people, including heterosexual and cis-gendered folks, have a sexual orientation and gender identity and use pronouns like he, she and they.

Those with 1 Million Voices For Inclusion also held peaceful protests in Abbotsford, Nanaimo, Parksville, Port Alberni, Surrey, Trail, Vancouver and Victoria.

READ MORE: Anti-SOGI march hits Kelowna while rainbows fly in counter protest

READ MORE: Kelowna comes together for rally against hate

Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

Graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. Also holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University.
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