VICTORIA—Despite the Canada Summer Jobs controversy and attempts to silence the pro-life club at the University of Victoria, pro-lifers are still publicly raising their voices.

A large crowd of demonstrators marched down Government Street for the tenth annual March for Life in Victoria May 10.

“I support the cause, support the students, but also ultimately stand up for the right to life and for love. It’s great to see such a great witness,” said Victoria resident Nathaniel De Jesus.

Though surrounded by hundreds of people, just before the march De Jesus worried about his safety. “I’ve seen some terrible things,” such as vandals destroying a pro-life display at the University of Victoria and angry responses to a LifeChain he participated in back in Ontario.

Indeed, a few hours earlier, the national March for Life in Ottawa was blocked by a crowd of counter-protesters shouting slogans in favour of abortion and carrying a sign saying “End the March for Life” featuring the Communist hammer and sickle symbol.

“Real trauma happens when someone is trying to do the right thing,” said De Jesus. “It’s frightening, but that’s life, that’s love. If love is not scary, what is it for?”

Dozens of religious, political, and other groups united for the pro-life march in Victoria, including Anglicans for Life, the Catholic Women’s League, the Christian Heritage Party, the Knights of Columbus, National Campus Life Network, Right Now, Silent No More, St. Matthew’s Pro-life Ministry, We Need A Law, and several Catholic high schools.

High school students show their support for life in Victoria.

Gail Smith took the hours-long trip to Victoria from St. Joseph’s Parish in Langley because she believed in the cause.

“People can only do the things they have the power to do. Stand up is all I can do,” she said. “I keep waiting for the pendulum to swing back and for people to realize: ‘Oh my God, we’ve really made a mistake.’”

The number of B.C. marchers – annually reported at about 2,000 – decreased this year, but enthusiasm was high among the activists and speakers who walked, guided by local police, to a rally at the B.C. Legislature buildings.

“The whole concept that Canada is pro-choice is a sham. It’s a lie. A real choice is an informed choice,” said Jared White, guest speaker and executive director of Advokate.

His pro-life organization, which operates two pregnancy centres in Langley and Abbotsford, has found many women in crisis situations feel they have no choice but to have an abortion.

The march ends with a rally at the B.C. Legislature buildings.

“Recently at one of our pregnancy centres, a 16-year-old, let’s call her Joy, (arrived and) her boyfriend was with her and thought he was taking her to an abortion clinic,” said White.

The girl, who instead of an abortion received peer counselling and an offer of free baby items, chose to have the child and broke up with the boyfriend.

White said unfortunately for Joy, the manipulative ex “found a way to worm back into her life,” told Joy he and his sister would take her shopping for baby clothes, and instead drove her to an abortion clinic.

“With many lies and intimidation, they made her believe there was truly no way out of it. She believed she had no choice. They drove her to the hospital, her boyfriend walked her in, and the abortionist ended the life inside of her,” said White.

“Most who women choose abortion do so because they feel like they have no choice. Even in cases not as extreme as this, there can be significant pressure from family, friends, partners, and even physicians to choose what society says is an easy eraser.”

White added that severe health risks associated with abortion, especially those to mental health, are often covered up. “Why didn’t they screen Joy for abuse? Why didn’t they tell her she might sink into a deep depression after the abortion?”

“Unless and until we ensure women have all the information before choosing abortion, and unless and until we make sure she is not being coerced into making a decision that is not truly hers, we do not have a pro-choice society. I can’t tell you how much I wish we had pro-choice laws in this country and this province. If we did, Joy would still have life inside of her.”

Other speakers included farmer and campaigner against assisted suicide Tamara Jensen, Vancouver leadership expert Brett Powell, and Right Now co-founder Alissa Golob.

“Pro-lifers are called to be beautiful protectors of life and human dignity,” Powell told the large crowd. “We are called to be tender and fierce: fiercely engaging with a systemic and cultural ideology contrary to life, and yet tender with each and every person with whom we interact, even (especially) those who disagree about life issues.”

Before the annual march, protesters gathered to pray at services at Central Baptist Church, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and St. Patrick’s Church in Victoria.

Right Now co-founder Alissa Golob.