Pro choice, pro life groups seek notice on International Women's Day

Published on March 8, 2016

A coalition of pro-choice groups marched through the streets of Charlottetown on Tuesday, International Women's Day, protesting a lack of abortion services. Many of the marchers wore Anne of Green Gables-style red braids and carried signs with the hashtag #iamkarats representing a Twitter account @iamkarats that has been active in calling on Premier Wade MacLauchlan and the P.E.I. government to allow for abortion services in P.E.I.

©THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel

Pro-choice advocates rally wearing Anne-style braids, blood-stained flowers at city  benches to protest

One side wore red braids and sang songs. The other left bloody flowers.

As pro-choice advocates prepared for a rally wearing Anne of Green Gable-style braids, someone left blood-stained flowers at various benches in Charlottetown to protest the outing.

"It was a bit shocking," said Becka Viau, marcher at the pro-choice rally.

The flowers were accompanied with a note naming a group called Our Ledger Is Red along with a website with Silence is Complicity as a tagline and saying, Happy International Women's Day.

Nova Arsenault, a fellow marcher, said she didn't get the message the flowers were meant to send.

"It wasn't clear to me what they were about. At first I thought it was domestic violence but I checked the website. That's what it leads you to believe, it's sort of obscure, you sort of have to check the website to see what it's about."

Viau called the flowers tasteless and said the tactic was in sharp contrast to what the pro-choice movement was doing.

"The use of that type of symbolism could be considered to be very violent in its approach, graphic in its approach. It seems strange to me to bring forth that kind of gesture on International Women's Day," Viau said. "We're taking a comedic approach, we're having fun, we're using art and artwork."

The pro-choice protest wore the red braids in solidarity with the #iamkarats twitter account that accompanied a punk rock Anne of Green Gables poster calling out Premier Wade MacLauchlan on not moving to provide services on Prince Edward Island, the only province in Canada that does not provide surgical abortions.

The group marched from Liberal party headquarters on Kent Street to the Charlottetown Club on King Street, also known as the Gentlemen's Club.

"That's a very elite space for some very powerful decision makers and here women on P.E.I. are still fighting for body autonomy," said Viaug. "We're marching because it's 2016."

The group also sang a song about granting access to abortion, to the tune of "Ice Cream" from the Anne of Green Gables musical.

The pro-choice march was organized by several groups including the Campus Alliance for Reproductive Justice, the P.E.I. Reproductive Rights Organization, Abortion Access Now, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and the Revolutionary Student Movement — UPEI Chapter.