Around 200 people attended the March for Our Lives in Calgary in front of the U.S. Consulate on Saturday. They were lending their voices to similar marches held around the world demanding stricter gun control laws.
Shouting “enough is enough” and “books not bullets,” the demonstrators made impassioned pleas for changes to guns laws. The marches come following the countrywide school walkouts throughout the U.S. on March 14, all in response to the deadly Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Erin Reid was one of the many young people at the Calgary rally. She is a Mount Royal University (MRU) student who grew up in Florida near Parkland and rushed home when she heard about the shooting.
“I was studying for my midterms and my mom called me and she said something happened,” Reid said. “I just had to go home. It just hit me so hard. And then two days later I went home and cried with my mom for a good three hours.”
Luke Gardiner is a 14-year-old student at Bishop Pinkham School, who organized a Facebook page for the local March.
“I realized that in Florida, the students in the school were my age and that terrified me,” he said. “To imagine that at my age I would have to go through something like that. That I would have to face death in my school.”
He hopes the rallies send a message that gun violence in schools is not normal behaviour.
“The fact is it keeps happening over and over again and that this has become a normal occurrence. I felt as though I had to send a message that this is not OK that we cannot allow this to keep happening in our schools across the world,” Gardiner added.
Clarissa Peterson joined the rally to show support for friends, family and teachers living in the United States. Peterson is an American citizen who has been living in Calgary for over two years.
“It’s so different. I used to live in Washington D.C., and I could hear gunfire from my house all the time. And since I have lived in Canada I’ve never once heard a gun,” Peterson said.
She hopes the marches finally send a message to legislators, but she also feels Americans need to change their thoughts on why they need to own so many firearms.
“I think it’s because so many people feel marginalized by our society and owning a gun is a way for them to feel powerful,” she said. “We need to fix that and not let people feel so marginalized that they feel like they can only have power with a gun.”
Reid said as an American, and as a student, she feels happy about youth being active in this movement and is holding out hope for change.
“I think it’s going to come down to voting,” Reid said. “We have the midterm elections in November and those high school kids, the friends of those who were killed, they can now vote and they are going to change things.”