EDMONTON, Alberta, May 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After a disappointing turnout at the 2011 March for Life, this year’s event welcomed a record-breaking crowd of 1400, organizers of the march, held on May 17th, told LifeSiteNews.
The organizers said this year’s turnout exceeds even the previous high point in 2010, which was the last year that the Alberta Bishops participated in the march.
In 2011, Alberta’s bishops decided not to participate in the march because the organizers of the event were unable to guarantee that participants would not bring graphic abortion images.
Terry Storms, a spokesperson for the Alberta March for Life Association said that, in keeping with the growing numbers of youth embracing the cause of life and showing their colors by participating in the national and regional marches for life across Canada, the number of young people attending the Alberta march exceeded all previous years.
“In spite of the midweek timing, the numbers of young people were higher than in previous years,” Storms told LifeSiteNews.
“Home schooled students, who are normally among the most enthusiastic supporters of the March, were well represented and, in addition, there were contingents from a number of rural Catholic School districts.”
However, Storms remarked, “Edmonton and area Catholic school divisions and Alberta politicians were not present this year.”
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An interdenominational prayer service held at Grace Lutheran Church at 10:00 a.m. kicked off the day’s events. Participants then gathered at the Alberta Legislature Grounds to the sounds of music provided by “Couples for Christ,” and listened to opening remarks by MCs Joanne Byfield, journalist and president of Alberta Life Issues Education Society (ALIES), and Denise Mountenay, founder and president of Canada Silent No More.
Following an opening prayer by Gary Johnson, State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus, and the singing of O Canada, the marchers were lead by the Knights of Columbus from the Legislature to Churchill Square in front of the Edmonton City Hall, and then back to the Legislature Grounds.
At each of the three stops the marchers were addressed by leading figures of the pro-life movement that included Leila McMann, the outgoing president of Go Life, the University of Alberta’s Pro-Life club; pro-life and anti-euthanasia speaker Mark Pickup; Melody Stefanson of Canada Silent No More; Dr. Gordon Self, vice-president of Covenant Health, and a number of Catholic and Protestant clergy.
This year’s Alberta March for Life had a very special focus – the commemoration of Baby Caleb Charbonneau in whose honor this march was held.
Caleb was diagnosed with anencephaly at 20 weeks gestation. His parents, Adam and Crystal Charbonneau of St. Paul, Alberta, were offered abortion, but they chose to have a natural birth for their baby.
At 34 weeks Crystal delivered their baby naturally at 4:37 pm on Thursday, May 12th 2011, the day of last year’s March for Life. Baby Caleb James died at 6:30 pm the same day.
The Alberta March for Life Association states, “In memory of their act of love and the gift of their first child, we wish to commemorate Baby Caleb on May 17th, 2012 and march in his honor. Congratulations to these parents who Chose Life!”
The day’s events were concluded with a closing prayer given by Greg Fraser, Senior Pastor of Morinville Christian Fellowship.