TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Children's Counselor Katrina Beaudoin, Board Member Allison McCulloch and Women's Counselor Kim Iwasiuk with The Women's Resource Centre on Princess Avenue work to remove anti-abortion posters which were glued to light standards at the four corners of Princess Avenue and Eighth Street overnight allegedly by members of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform's New Abortion Caravan tour which made a stop in Brandon on Tuesday.
A counsellor at the Women’s Resource Centre is calling the graphic anti-abortion posters plastered on lamp posts across the city "inappropriate and offensive."
Devorah Gilman, Anita Sonntag, Jonathon Van Maren and Alanna Gomez protest legalized abortion outside the Brandon Regional Health Centre on Tuesday during a stop in Brandon as part of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform's New Abortion Caravan from Vancouver to Ottawa. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Kim Iwasiuk and fellow staff members at the resource centre were greeted with dozens of shocking posters when they came to work Wednesday morning.
"It seems that the organization targeted the Women’s Resource Centre and the Sexuality Education Resource Centre," Iwasiuk said. "We are totally offended that this would happen."
Katrina Beaudoin, children’s counsellor, first noticed the posters across the street at the corner of Princess Avenue and Eighth Street.
"I was kind of shocked because I couldn’t even fathom why somebody would put that there," she said. "I looked around and I noticed that all of the lamp posts on the corner were hit … I immediately thought, ‘These need to come down. Our clients can’t be coming into a safe place looking out the window … seeing these graphic images.’"
Staff members started scrubbing the glued-on posters off the lamp posts, but not before children from the YMCA day camps walked by.
"We saw little children walking by looking at the posters, and I think that is so inappropriate," Iwasiuk said. "This is an adult issue. This is not something that should be across from the YMCA."
The posters are part of a cross-Canada New Abortion Caravan, an initiative of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR). While in Brandon on Tuesday, the group held a rally outside of the hospital, put up posters, handed out postcards and made a presentation at St. Augustine Church.
Pamela Wright, a Brandon mother of two, was outraged to see the "graphic, brutal images" on posters and campaign vans around the city.
"I was walking my kids to the library … a four-year-old and two-year-old and saw two of those trucks with those images driving down Victoria. As we rounded Seventh … I see that truck again," she said. "My four-year-old son looks over at me and says, ‘Mommy, what is that picture of?’"
Wright said she had to lie and tell him she didn’t see the picture.
"It was absolutely disturbing," she said. "I know we have freedom of expression, but we also have freedom of choice."
Some of the posters show bloody, aborted fetuses with the words "Abortion kills children." Postcards depict "Butchered Children" that state, "in Rwanda, killed with machetes" and "in Canada, killed with suction machines."
Wright plans to contact CCBR and voice her concerns.
Const. Ron Burgess with Brandon Police Service said posting on city lamp posts is against the city bylaw. But before they could tell them to stop posting, the group had already moved on.
The Brandon Sun contacted the caravan as they were en route to Winnipeg for their next stop on Wednesday.
"Ultimately you can’t have a bylaw which overrides the Charter and people’s constitutional rights to freedom of expression," said Stephanie Gray, executive director of CCBR.
Gray said they use the graphic images in hopes women will have a change of heart.
"We have found that when women see the abortion images, they change their minds," Gray said. "Since injustice that is invisible becomes tolerable, we’re trying to make the injustice visible so that it becomes intolerable, and we choose the pictures because we’re a visual culture."
The caravan is retracing the steps of a feminist caravan in 1970, which wanted to repeal abortion laws. The New Abortion Caravan started on May 29 in Vancouver, and will end in Ottawa on Canada Day.
"They ended in the spring of 1970 on Mother’s Day to frame the issues as one of women’s rights," Gray said. "We’re ending in Ottawa on Canada Day to frame it as one of human rights."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 14, 2012