Last Saturday, we set up 10,000 flags (representing 100,000 abortions annually) in Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford, B.C. This was the second of three flag displays organised in the Fraser Valley this summer. This prime location meant a day of non-stop conversations with residents of Abbotsford, along with many visitors from out of town or out of province.
The day started bright and early at 7:00 am with more than 20 volunteers ready to plant flags. Some of these volunteers stayed around to engage with passerby, and more joined us throughout the day. The response, from an incredibly diverse crowd of people, was overwhelmingly positive. We know statistics say that the majority of Canadians are unaware of the complete lack of abortion laws in Canada, and we know statistics say that the majority oppose things like late-term or sex-selective abortion. Yet there’s nothing quite like spending a day talking to people of all walks of life and getting such a supportive, encouraging response to really make you believe it.
From a recent Syrian immigrant with five children to a woman who regrets the abortion she had as a teenager, from young couples out for a stroll to moms walking over from the waterpark with their little ones, this community showed an immediate understanding of the injustice of our complete lack of abortion policy in Canada.
In a matter of hours we collected nearly 300 signatures for our International Standards Law petition, asking the government to start regulating abortion after the first trimester. (You can print a copy here and ask your friends and neighbours to sign too.) The majority of people we spoke to were eager to sign, and at least half who hesitated did so because they didn’t think this asked for enough. We spoke with many about our incremental approach, and the need to start somewhere – our desire to protect some while working to protect all.
At the end of the afternoon, as we started dismantling the flag display, numerous park patrons offered to help and we were able to take everything down in record time and share pizza and drinks with both volunteers and the community. It was a beautiful day in every way. We hope that the seeds planted will bear fruit of action and be fodder for conversations in the lives of these people as they move within their own community circles, so the conversations we had that day can be had again and again. Through that, may more minds may be opened and hearts be changed so that laws reflecting Canadian values will be laws protecting life from its earliest stages.