By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — More than a dozen Canadian cities hosted marches Saturday to call for stricter gun control laws in both Canada and the United States in the wake of a deadly high school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla.
In both Montreal and Toronto, several hundred people joined local events in support of the massive March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., which was organized by American students calling for change in the wake of the tragedy.
In one of Montreal’s two marches, hundreds of protesters swayed together singing to the tune of “Glory, Hallelujah” before setting off towards the city’s U.S. Consulate.
Ellen Gozansky Malka, a Montrealer now living in Parkland, told the crowd that two of her children were at the school during the shooting and saw things no child should see.
“Our children should never fear going to school, and they should never jump at the sound of a book falling on the floor,” she said to appreciative applause.
“This will have a lasting effect on our community. We have to make sure this will never happen again anywhere, anywhere in the world.”
A few blocks away, a slightly smaller event was organized by 11-year-old elementary school student Lexington Vickery, who led about 150 cheering classmates and supporters on a raucous march in support of American children.
“Its about making them feel better, and making them feel more supported and working to help them so they can have more courage to go to the government and get their gun legislation,” the sixth-grader explained in an interview beforehand.
In Toronto, marchers carried signs protesting both gun violence in the United States and recent shootings that have plagued the city as they marched from a downtown square to the U.S. Consulate.
An organizer told local news station CP24 that while Canada doesn’t experience mass shootings on the same scale as the U.S., Toronto has seen a number of high-profile fatal shootings recently.
Police have said that last weekend, an innocent man was gunned down in a “cowardly” attack after visiting friends. The following day, two people were shot and killed outside of a bowling alley — one of the victims was allegedly targeted, and the other was described by police as a bystander.
“I think it’s important to have this march today in solidarity with students in the United States because gun violence is taking its toll on families, individuals, communities across North America. In Toronto we’ve seen a hundred per cent increase in gun violence homicides over the last three years,” said Louis March, a co-founder of Toronto’s Zero Gun Violence Movement.
“We can do better.”
Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the march in Washington, D.C., with smaller gatherings to take place in hundreds of cities across the world.