Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Image depicting protest in September 2023. Source: 1 Million March for Children/Facebook
As the date for the second anti-2SLGBTQ+ One Million March For Children protest draws closer, there has been confusion and disagreement, even among organizers, if and where the protests are taking place.
The first 1MMFC on September 20th drew protesters against comprehensive sex education and gender identity - education dealing with the existence and types of 2SLGBTQ+ identities - being taught in schools. Gatherings took place across Canada with Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver, Kamloops, St. John’s, Prince George and more. Many counter protests were organized to oppose their message, many of them led or heavily attended by union members.
The past few days have seen one organizer attempt to cancel the new round of protests on October 21st, walk that statement back, and there is now a general confusion about which protests are still taking place.
While there are a range of different participants, the brands Family♥️Freedom and Hands Off Our Kids (HooK), are credited as primary organizers of the events.
The Ottawa spokesperson for HooK, Kamel El-Cheikh, took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce that the march was cancelled, citing “unforeseen circumstances and the plethora of Canadians consumed with this Palestinian conflict.”
The message was later updated to say only the Ottawa event has been cancelled, with another message signed by El-Cheikh citing “safety” concerns as the primary issue.
Other cities, including Pickering and Whitby, Ontario have also been shuttered, the reasons were not given, though attendees were encouraged to attend the Toronto march.
Confusing things further, members of the One Million March for Children Facebook group report receiving messages stating that the Ottawa protest is planning to go ahead, but attendance will be based on “which leader you follow,” according to one commenter.
The HooK website still displays a poster for the event with the word “cancelled”
HooK is openly religious and intolerant of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Posts by their organizers in their Facebook group invoke the Biblical/Quranic story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“We will never virtue signal to the pride community as our Ibrahamic faiths have highlighted that clearly, although we are not looking to oppress either. This is a movement for the children and straight families, we are not going to make it about any other group or political agenda, we are non-partisan.”
Hands Off Our Kids previously listed four spokespeople on its website El-Cheikh (Ottawa), Dr. Bahira Abdulsalam (Greater Toronto Area), Mahmoud Mourra (Calgary) and David Krayden. Since the initial march on September 20th, however, only El-Cheikh and Krayden remain on the site.
Mourra was charged with hate-motivated (anti-2SLGBTQ+) criminal harassment in July, “which Calgary police say stems from online activity that happened in June,” according to CityNews.
Message posted to the Hands Off Our Kids official website. Source: Hands Off Our Kids
Like in September, numerous counter protests are being organized in response to the nationwide 1MMFC rallies. To help connect potential attendees with the response, the group One Million Voices for Inclusion has set up a website listing some of these counter protests.
Calling the 1MM4C a series of “anti-trans/LGBTQ, anti-teacher, and anti-public-education” events, the website admins compiled 46 actions against the march.
“A reactionary, conservative movement is trying to take away protections afforded to 2SLGBTQ+ youth, stripping them of their fundamental rights to serve their political agenda,” the group’s website reads. “The same anti-trans groups behind the One Million March are trying, once again, to deprive students of a comprehensive education which is inclusive of themselves and the world.”
Stressing this should not be thought of as an issue only impacting transgender people, the page adds that “all of our civil liberties, ranging from the right to protest all the way to reproductive justice, are under threat. It’ll affect all of us.”