Montreal Protesters March For Better Gun Control
Local “March For Our Lives” in Solidarity With Washington Protest
“We call BS! Hey hey NRA how many kids have you killed today?” chanted several hundred protesters marching down Ste. Catherine St. Saturday afternoon.
Protesters took to the street to fight for stricter gun control laws in the United States as well as in Canada.
The march began at Cabot Square across from Dawson College to commemorate the 2006 shooting that happened at the CEGEP, said organizer Phil Lord.
The protesters then marched down Ste. Catherine St. to the American Consulate at the corners of St Alexander St and René-Lévesque Blvd so that the protesters “could make [their] voices heard,” said co-organizer, Sophie Saidmehr.
The March For Our Lives protest took place in cities all over North America, and is being held in solidarity with the victims of the mass shooting that happened on Feb. 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The shooting killed 17 and injured 15, and marked the 28th mass shooting of 2018 in the United States.
Cyril Yared, who knew one of the victims of the shooting, gave a speech before the march began. His sisters had survived the shooting by hiding.
“[The victims] were left as evidence that in the United States, we have a broken system,” he said. “They were left as evidence that we prioritize the right to bear military style weapons over the right to life.”
“I’d like the students to know they’re not alone,” said protester and Concordia graduate Roslyn Macgregor, while holding back tears. “I was at the Université de Montréal when the massacre happened in 1989. We need good gun legislation.”
Among the crowd was seven year-old James Oawnley, who carried a sign reading “No Guns in Schools!” His family had recently moved to Montreal from the United States.
“We shouldn’t have to be lucky to come home from school at the end of the day,” said Yared.
He went on to say that after the Polytechnique massacre, Montreal had successfully pushed for change and that it’s time to do so once again. He wants to see universal background checks and heavy restrictions on carrying guns in the United States at the very least.
“We had two more people killed this past week,” said protester Jeanne Hodgson. “[The NRA and government] don’t want to take guns away, they want people to have their guns. However, there needs to be a change in the law.”
“The NRA does not control any party,” she continued. “It’s time for them to realize that and listen to the kids and listen to the message. With so many people protesting around the world today.”
Debbie Desmettres, who has come to Canada in order to raise her family, recalls that when she was a kid, schools were implementing tornado drills that were meant to teach students how to protect themselves in unavoidable situations.
“It absolutely breaks my heart that children in the United States have to participate in active shooter drills,” she said in her speech.
She went on to say that she knows people, family members even, who are gun owners. However, she said even they agree that it’s time for a change in gun control laws. She also addressed that whenever white killers perpetrate mass shootings, it is always blamed on mental health issues.
“While it’s true that we need to better address mental health issues, it cannot be used to avoid talking about guns or gun violence,” she said.