More than a million people around the world, including Canadians, gathered to march for stricter gun control laws in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting that left 17 people dead.
Local events were held in major Canadian cities in support of the massive rally that took place in Washington D.C on Sat., March 24.
After Nicholas Cruz open-fired at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, it generated protests to ban automatic assault rifles and to force stricter access to firearms. Students have been pushing against the NRA for their hidden agenda in regards to gun reform.
Defiant, determined and outraged students had an explicit message for lawmakers worldwide: end gun violence.
Emma Gonzalez, a survivor and activist of the Parkland shooting, stood silent for just over six min., during her speech. The same amount of time it took for the Florida massacre to take place.
Sam Loiseau, a McMaster student studying Health Sciences Education, thought it was one of the most powerful protests she’s ever seen.
“The sheer size of it, and how it not only took place in the U.S but also around the world is amazing,” said Loiseau.
Jessica Mary Joy, a nursing student at Sheridan College, said it was a community bonding.
“The sense of community bonding together is the most powerful thing because they see a need and they as a whole are trying to make a change,” Joy said.
What made this protest so unique was the fact that it was organized and implemented by students standing up against the government.
Loiseau said it affected her perspective on student protests.
“It shows that millennials and the youth of today truly do have a stake in tomorrow. They turn around and surprise you, with something of this scale and social magnitude,” Loiseau says.
Joy thought it pushed students to challenge each other.
“It pushes students to become more aware of the things happening outside of their own little bubbles.”
The March For Our Lives Protest was one of the largest youth protests, particularly since the Vietnam War according to Vox news.
In just the U.S. alone, 450 marches took place with over 1.2 million people from researchers Jeremy Pressman and Erica Chenoweth.
The protests captivated thousands around the world, Loiseau said, “it was most captivating through how many young students were involved in both the organization and demonstrations themselves.”
“This had such a strong teenage and adolescent presence, it seems to have really changed the demographic when it comes to student protesting,” Loiseau said.
Joy added that “The sense of community is heartwarming. It gives us hope that the new generation may still have hope to thrive.”
The protest is a direct response to school shootings, invigorating people to act against the current gun control regulations according to students leading the march.
After years of school shootings and no change, it’s about time they do something to adjust regulations, Loiseau says.
“In today’s time, these gun laws are beyond unnecessary and are frankly outdated. In a developed and wealthy country such as the U.S and Canada, there is no need for daily protections requiring weapons. Instead, there are now daily protections needed from weapons,” Loiseau said.
“I think the political rhetoric, which is so blatantly dictated by capitalist gains of the NRA and other businesses, is so vile and appalling,”
The March For Our Lives movement is not over just yet, protesters are continuing their movement and pushing Congress to pass necessary gun reforms in the U.S., while Canadians push Ottawa to ban assault weapons.