The March For Our Lives Movement Comes To Toronto
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Toronto this morning to stand shoulder-to-shoulder at a rally for the March For Our Lives movement.
The march was created by a group of resilient teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14th, a 19 year-old former student opened fire in the school, killing 17 students and teachers.
This group came together immediately to demand stricter gun control by the federal government. Student organizers planned the march in collaboration with the non-profit organization, Everytown for Gun Safety.
March For Our Lives started as a demonstration in Washington, DC on March 24, and grew to over 830 marches around the world.
Hundreds of people attended the event at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, also known as City Hall. They came from all walks of life, carrying handmade signs and banners, wearing buttons and t-shirts with hand-painted slogans.
Thousands campaigned on The Mall in Washington, DC., with approximately one million marching across the US. It has been reported that not since the Vietnam war has there been such a massive demonstration in the United States.
At the Nathan Phillips march, I spoke with two women. One held a sign that read, “Dying Should Not Be The Default” while the other’s read, “MSD Strong”. When asked why they came to the march, one told me that it was because of a personal connection to the cause.
“My niece attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas and she was there the day of the shootings,” she said. “She is only 17 years old and I’m here to support her.”
A family I spoke with told me that they came up from Parkland to attend the rally in Toronto. They laughed about the temperature difference but wanted to come here to walk with their Canadian family.
Amongst the music, singing, chanting and drum beating, there was one underlying message. Change needs to happen now.
Easter is only a few weeks away. Being early this year, it will most likely be cold. April 1 in Toronto tends to be that way.
About six years ago, around this time of year, I planted a pussy willow tree in my garden. It started off as a stick, roughly 12 inches long and an inch across. It would be an experiment to see if it would actually grow into a tree.
Within a few months, it began to show shoots of little green branches. Month after month, it grew.
Within a year, my stick started to resemble a very small tree. Some years later, it stands about 20 feet high and five feet across. Magnificent!
Around this time every year, we begin to see the characteristic fuzzy buds begin to pop from the branches. Many think the first signs of spring are the crocus flowers or perennial bushes that peek out of the ground.
But our pussy willow tree will have the first buds to appear, every year. It’s a true leader.
According to the website Fun Flower Facts, pussy willows are often displayed in homes for Chinese New Year, symbolizing growth and prosperity in the new year. They are also used as decoration on Palm Sunday at Easter.
At our Ukrainian Catholic church, instead of using palm leaves to be blessed on Palm Sunday, we have pussy willow branches. The Encyclopedia Of Ukraine tells us that the Sunday before Easter, is also called, Willow Sunday.
Pussy willows were used because in Ukraine they thrived in the climate as opposed to palms.
The tradition with Ukrainians is that they tap each other on the head and shoulders, reciting the following wish, “Be as tall as the willow, as healthy as the water, and as rich as the earth.” Or another playful verse, which goes something like, “The willow is hitting you, I’m not hitting you, a week from today is Easter.” Personally, the former is more inspirational and friendly.
My beloved pussy willow tree is serving up the notice that spring truly is around the corner. Slowly the other horticultural species will catch-up.