The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) appeared at the Fennell campus today (Oct. 3) advocating against abortion, exercising their right to freedom of expression on public property under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is the first time the group has appeared inside Mohawk College.
The group came unannounced, holding large signs that seemed to depict aborted fetuses, in the school’s C-wing around noon.
The college’s director of communications, Jay Robb says dialogue between Mohawk College and the CCBR had been back and forth for about a month. “They showed up today unannounced,” he said. “This is new for us, we’ve never had a group do this.”
College lawyers assessed the situation and concluded the group had every right to be at the school. “We had lawyers look at it and they said this is public property,” Robb said, referring to the common space of C-wing. “If they were to go into classrooms or labs, they would be out of bounds.”
Reactions from students were mixed as they walked between classes in the busy common area. Alyssa Lopes was walking to class when somebody stopped her and asked what her thoughts on abortion were.
“I told her I didn’t agree with this,” she said, referring to the imagery used. “I have never been through this, but a friend of mine has, and she was scarred for the rest of her life. You don’t know what people have been through.”
Tyler Henderson, another student, was shocked at the graphic nature of the posters. “My initial reaction was, ‘Who let you in here?’” he said. “When I look at my community and I see the amount of discrimination that women still get who are pro-choice, it shakes me. It makes me very upset.”
A member of the CCBR, Devorah Gilman said even though the reaction from students was mixed, the group must speak out.
“Our mission is to show people the truth of who the pre-born are, and what abortion does to them,” she said. “We have to speak out against any human right violation when we see it, and that’s what we are doing here today.”
A notice from Dean of Students Rachel Matthews was sent out via email to students that the group was inside the school. It suggested alternate routes to avoid the images, as well as where to get support and counselling if needed.