Request to proclaim anti-abortion week for Saskatoon fails

The woman who made the request said she's disappointed because she never heard back from the city.

Woman who made request says she's disapointed with what she calls a lack of communication from the city

A group in Saskatoon called Alliance for Life has failed in its bid to have a week in January called "Respect for Life Week." (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A Saskatoon woman who wanted a week in January named in honour of the anti-abortion movement says she's disappointed with the City of Saskatoon.

Carole Tokaruk, the president of Alliance for Life, wrote city council in June to ask that January 21 to 28 be named "Respect For Life Week."

Events during the week might include a flag raising, Tokaruk wrote at the time.

"It is felt that since we are such a diverse and open-minded city that this should not cause any concern for we are peaceful, law-abiding citizens besides," Tokaruk wrote.

The application was parked after councillor Hilary Gough voiced a concern that it was not complete and "did not provide clear indication of compliance with the [city's proclamations] policy."

Tokaruk then wrote the city a second time, in September. Tokaruk made no mention of a flag raising. Other details about the week remained lacking.

Rejected proclamations 'not common'

Tokaruk's request was back on the city hall agenda on Monday, with a recommendation from city staffers that it simply be received as information.

That recommendation was defeated in a 8-3 vote without debate, with councillors Darren Hill, Randy Donauer and Zach Jeffries voting in favour of receiving the information.

The proclamation bid was effectively nixed, which the city says it "not common."

Carole Tokaruk's request for an official anti-abortion week in Saskatoon was denied. (Supplied/Carole Tokaruk)

The vote left Tokaruk "really upset," she said Wednesday. She said she never heard from city hall about her request.

"As far as I know, no one ever phoned me. If they emailed me, I don't get on the computer that often. That's why I gave them both methods of contacting me.

"If you wanted to really talk to me, and I didn't answer the phone or I wasn't home, they could have left a message. But they didn't do that either. I don't think they really wanted any information."

Joanne Sproule, the city clerk, says the city communicates with people who request proclamations and flag raisings once council makes a decision. 

"We would not typically contact a writer prior to the meeting unless we needed clarity on something like a date or span of dates, or specific direction by council to do so," said Sproule.

'We'll try again'

The city is currently reviewing its proclamations policy, and Gough asked the city to report back on "policy amendments required to specifically consider flag raisings.

Tokaruk said she mentioned the flag raising in her first letter in order to be "up-front" about potential features of the proposed week.

"I was thinking of maybe borrowing a flag from maybe Prince Albert, if they had one," she said.

One such flag — featuring an illustration of a baby, an umbilical cord and the phrase "Please let me live" — was raised at Prince Albert city hall for several years until recently, when petitions called for the tradition to end.  

Tokaruk said she's not giving up on her Saskatoon request.

"Next year we'll try again," she said.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips, ideas, complaints, just want to say 'Hi'? Write me at


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.