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Canadian activist Josh Alexander (left) and LifeSite Senior Correspondent Jim Hale (right) at the LifeSiteNews 25th Anniversary Gala in Toronto, July 18, 2023Nikhil Mitra / LifeSiteNews

(LifeSiteNews) – I was privileged to attend LifeSite’s Canadian gala last week, and it touched my heart profoundly.

Last year, LifeSiteNews celebrated our 25th anniversary with a gala in Naples, Florida – but many Canadians were unable to attend because at that time the U.S. still mandated COVID injections for non-citizen international travelers. Thankfully, that unscientific mandate ended a few months ago, but LifeSite still brought a Canadian edition of the celebration to the Great White North, where LifeSiteNews originated more than two decades ago.

Perhaps it’s the brutal weather or the overwhelmingly liberal politics, but I was struck by what I can only characterize as pro-life Canadians’ understated ruggedness and resilience.

I was seated next to Michael del Grande, an embattled Catholic school board trustee who has fought tirelessly for Catholic schools to be actually Catholic, rather than defy unchangeable Church doctrine. Meeting someone who has defended Holy Mother Church – and the children entrusted to institutions that are supposed to be Catholic – so courageously and at great personal cost was an honor. So was speaking with other Canadians who live their Christian faith, encouraged by LifeSiteNews articles about key developments in the spheres of life, family, faith, and freedom.

Prominent Canadian physicians Dr. Mark Trozzi and Dr. Mary O’Connor delivered incredibly powerful speeches, explaining how their refusal to bow to the gods of the COVID cult has led to the unjust suspension of their medical licenses.

LifeSiteNews President Steve Jalsevac presents a Medical Freedom award to Dr. Mary O’Connor
Dr. Mark Trozzi addresses the LifeSiteNews gala in Toronto

So did Dr. Byram Bridle, a virologist, vaccinologist, immunologist, and professor, who has suffered immensely in his professional life for asking thoughtful, scientific questions about the safety of mRNA shots. He began his short speech with a heartfelt explanation about why he was comfortable bucking the COVID-19 narrative: Bridle has Tourette’s syndrome, and the teasing he endured growing up immunized him, if you will, to groupthink and peer pressure.

Dr. Byram Bridle addresses the LifeSiteNews gala in Toronto

While COVID hysteria and its devastating effects may feel “over” for most people, the gala was an important reminder that the suspension of civil rights in service to what Bishop Athanasius Schneider called in March 2020 a “sanitary dictatorship” has ended up devastating scientific inquiry. It has wrecked the lives of many people who refused to take an experimental injection that doesn’t even prevent transmission of a treatable and often very mild disease. Good doctors, the kind you want treating you and your loved ones, have been forced out of practicing medicine because they treated patients ethically – and, quite frankly, because they refused to be sheep.

It happened all over the Western world. And it’s still happening. What will become of medicine? Where will patients who need help treating chronic diseases go?

COVID authoritarianism may be out of the public’s mind, but it’s still very much alive in many professions, and good people are still suffering unjustly for questioning the cruelty that has marked the past few years.

Then there was Josh Alexander, the red-hatted teenage Canadian activist facing various legal and educational struggles for stating the obvious about gender (there are only two). He was calm and articulate as LifeSite’s Jim Hale interviewed him onstage. Most noticeably, he was confident – he knows what he believes and why he believes it. As he spoke, my eyes were drawn to a man in the back of the room who I am almost certain was his father. He looked thoughtful and kind. Surely he knows his son hasn’t chosen an easy path, but he has chosen a righteous one.

Canadian activist Josh Alexander (left) and LifeSite Senior Correspondent Jim Hale (right) at the LifeSiteNews 25th Anniversary Gala in Toronto, July 18, 2023

Jim Hughes, former National President of Campaign Life Coalition, had attendees in fits of laughter. I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the jokes he told by merely writing about them here, but I should note that once all humans are welcomed in life and protected in law in Canada, he has a future in comedy.

In the coming days, LifeSiteNews will be publishing more about this historic gala. In the meantime, offer a prayer or two for the brave Canadians who are doing what they know is right in our upside-down age. The world is a better place thanks to their courage.

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As a journalist and editor for LifeSiteNews, Claire Chretien has written more than 1,500 articles about abortion, human dignity, bioethics, the Catholic Church, politics, and related topics. Claire holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama. It was there that she first became involved in pro-life activism.