By John Jalsevac
CALGARY, Albert, June 8, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Since the six walkers of the Canadian version of the pro-life Crossroads walk began their cross-Canada trek on May 19 with a lap around Vancouver’s Stanley Park, they have walked over 600 miles across some of the most difficult terrain that they will encounter until they arrive in Ottawa over two months from now.
Yesterday LifeSiteNews.com spoke at length with two of the participants, 20-year-old British Columbia native Etienne O’Toole and 21-year-old Saskatchewan native Gregory Roth.
The pair are on this week’s night shift. Because there are only 6 walkers on the Canadian version of Crossroads, this means that the two students have spent the week taking turns, throughout the night, walking alone through the Rocky Mountains, and now Western Alberta. During the day shifts the Crossroads volunteers walk in pairs, but there aren’t enough of them to keep up the 24-hour schedule and still keep everyone in pairs, and so the so-called “night-walkers” (whose name makes them sound like some new Marvel Comic superhero) walk alone.
Greg relates the nights spent on the desolate British Columbian Highways with some dramatic flair, admitting that at times it can be quite frightening to be alone out in the wildernesses of the Rocky Mountains. But Greg, who is known for his remarkably sanguine temperament, tends to humorously brush aside the difficulties of such a venture.
To most people that just doesn’t sound safe, being alone on the highways of BC in the middle of the night, it is pointed out to him.
“Oh, well it probably isn’t,” he responds, and laughs heartily.
“There were a few times I was afraid of bears,” he admits. “But the thing is, even if it’s 3am, some semi will pass you, so, and that’s sort of comforting. You know, you’re walking along and you think there’s a bear following you–which I’ve had happen like three times–and then a semi comes around a corner and makes a lot of noise and has bright lights, and then whatever was following probably isn’t any more, because it’s probably run into the forest.”
It can be a little bit eerie for the drivers of cars and trucks who drive past the Crossroads night-walkers, too, even though–or perhaps especially because–the night-walkers always carry a powerful flashlight and wear a reflective safety vest. “You get a lot of people who pull over in the middle of the night and ask ‘Do you want a ride?’” relates Greg, “and I say ‘No, it’s alright. I’m walking across Canada.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh…Do you want a ride?’”
“Anyway,” he says, laughing again, “I get a lot of good alone time. It’s really good for vocational discernment.” Greg, who has just graduated from college, is planning on attending the Catholic seminary in London Ontario in the Fall.
Etienne O’Toole, who is a third year math and physics student at the University of British Columbia agrees with that sentiment, about the value of the quiet and solitude, pointing out that one of the primary means by which Crossroads attempts to achieve its goals is constant prayer and sacrifice.
“A lot of us have blisters and stuff like that,” he says. “But it’s all part of the sacrifice. Of course, we’re out there with pro-life shirts to witness to the sanctity and dignity of human life. But also what we do, our main priority is prayer and sacrifice. For example if you’re on the night shift, you’re sacrificing sleep. We should be spending the whole summer in prayer. When we go to Churches we’ve taken up the practice of accepting prayer intentions, so we pray for other people as well as the unborn. We try to say 4 rosaries a day. We pray morning and evening prayer. We try to go to daily Mass, although sometimes we can’t make it. We also say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. We say it all for the unborn, for an end to abortion.”
Although Crossroads is officially a Catholic organization, the walkers often speak at Protestant churches, or wherever else that anyone will have them.
The Crossroads walkers have spent the last several weekends traveling around to parishes in the towns where they rest from Friday night until Monday morning, giving talks and drumming up donations. Both Greg and Etienne say they have been continually impressed by the generosity that is shown to them.
“So far I’ve been struck by the generosity and support we receive,” says Etienne. “Generosity from people we meet, and people just inviting us for supper, or to eat at their house. We get a lot of support like that. The majority of people who actually make themselves noticeable to us are in support of our efforts. They’ll honk and wave and stuff like that. A lot of people stop and offer you rides and stuff, and that gives you a chance to tell them what you’re doing.”
Greg says that generally the spirit of the group is strong, but adds that each section of the walk has its unique challenges. All of the walkers have already had to deal with sometimes severe and painful blisters, and the organizer of the Canadian walk, Cyril Doll, was incapacitated for an entire week when one of his legs became swollen; he’s back on the road now though, putting in his minimum of 15 miles a day.
“Saskatchewan is going to be rough,” says Greg. “Apparently in the prairies the car goes up 8 km. and you can still see it, and that’s sort of a bit of a heartbreak.”
“But most of the blisters on my feet are gone,” he adds cheerfully. “The calluses are nice.”
Find out approximately where Canada’s Crossroads walkers will be by consulting their schedule at
Read Etienne’s Crossroads Walk blog:
Visit the Crossroads homepage:
and the official Crossroads blog: