Students at the University of Regina (U of R) spent the day giving hugs and high fives to counter a Christian activist’s presence at the school.
On Tuesday, Bill Whatcott’s returned to the U of R campus to distribute pamphlets and flyers.
Whatcott has been known for his extreme conservative views relating to his anti-gay and anti-abortion stances.
In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled some of his past flyers had violated Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code.
UR Pride director Leo Keiser said they’re using his presence as an opportunity to instead gather support for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s been the same messaging for a very long time. I think people who have been around the institution or have heard of him have kind of come to know the messaging is pretty identical to what it has been,” Keiser said.
Students stood near Whatcott’s table and held signs that read “Caution: Hateful, Graphic images ahead” and “Do not engage, keep walking, hateful messages ahead.”
Around campus, students expressed their different opinions.
“He sends the wrong message, because he identifies as a Christian person, and as a Christian person, I don’t identify with that at all,” Elisabeth Fortier said.
“He sends a message of hate while what Christian people want to do is send a message of love.”
Another student Armon Nasehi also disagreed with Whatcott’s message.
“I obviously disagree, I feel like he’s just looking for attention… honestly if anyone has any political or religious ideologies that’s based on hate, it’s ridiculous,” Armon said.
“He doesn’t belong here.”
On Monday, the university had emailed students that Whatcott would be present on campus on Tuesday.
In a joint statement with Students’ Union president Jermain Mckenzie, U of R president Vianne Timmons wrote:
“While we wholeheartedly support free speech and view it as fundamental to our institution and our democracy, Mr. Whatcott’s propaganda does nothing to promote healthy and reasoned debate. Rather, it serves to incite hatred and fear, and we simply cannot support it.”
They had also encouraged students to refrain from engaging in any direct contact with him.