Protesters in downtown Saskatoon rally against Parents' Bill of Rights, anti-SOGI group

About 200 protesters gathered in downtown Saskatoon on Saturday to rally against a new law requiring students to get parental consent before making gender-related name or pronoun changes in school. (Liam O'Connor/CBC - image credit)
About 200 protesters gathered in downtown Saskatoon on Saturday to rally against a new law requiring students to get parental consent before making gender-related name or pronoun changes in school. (Liam O'Connor/CBC - image credit)

Protesters opposed to the recently-passed Bill 137 and the 1 Million March 4 Children (1MM4C) group rallied in downtown Saskatoon on Saturday.

The 1MM4C group, which held rallies across Canada on Saturday, is "advocating for the elimination of the sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools," its website describes.

Another group, called 1 Million Voices for Inclusion (1MVI) — which says it advocates for the rights and safety of 2SLGBTQIA+ people — organized counter-protests across the country to the 1MM4C rallies.

There wasn't a 1MM4C rally in Saskatoon, although its website says events were scheduled in Estevan and Regina.

The protests come after a new law, Bill 137, passed in Saskatchewan on Friday, requiring students to get parental consent before making gender-related changes to their name or pronouns at school.

About 200 people gathered at the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink to oppose the new law and 1MM4C.

Blake Tait, one of the organizers of the 1MVI protest in Saskatoon, said he disagrees with 1MM4C's message.

"They're protesting trans and queer people existing in the school system, and [for] making their kids trans, which is not something that's ever going to happen," said Tait.

Blake Tait was one of the organizers for the counter-protest in Saskatoon.
Blake Tait was one of the organizers for the counter-protest in Saskatoon.

Blake Tait, one of the organizers for the 1 Million Voices for Inclusion rally on Saturday, said he disagrees with the message of the 1 Million March for Children group. (Matt Howard/CBC)

"Trans kids will be trans, if they're trans."

Tait said he started socially transitioning at 14 years old, and later that school year he went to see a school counsellor who encouraged him to come out to his family.

Tait said he wasn't sure how telling his family would go at first.

"My blood-related family was all fantastic, my sisters are awesome, my parents are both awesome," said Tait.

He said in response to the new legislation, he coined the phrase, "Notwithstanding, we exist."

'My number one job is to help kids learn'

Jocie Barrington, an early childhood educator who works with children ages 4 to 9 and a guest speaker at the 1MVI protest, said she came to show her students she will stand up for them.

Barrington said as a queer child, she didn't grow up in an accepting household, but she found solace in a gay-straight alliance group in her youth.

Jocie Barrington is an early childhood educator and was a guest speaker at the counter-protest
Jocie Barrington is an early childhood educator and was a guest speaker at the counter-protest

Jocie Barrington, an early childhood educator and guest speaker at the 1 Million Voices for Inclusion rally, said she feels conflicted about the new law. (Liam O'Connor/CBC)

Now, as an early childhood educator, she said she feels conflicted about the new law.

"My number one job is to help kids learn and protect them and this legislature is going to do the exact opposite," said Barrington.

She said the potential of facing legal action is scary.

"It puts me in the position of either respecting my kids' pronouns, but also keeping them safe, or facing legal action if the news that I'm not outing my kids falls into a close-minded director."