True patriot love. We sing the words in our anthem, yet the word ‘patriot’ rarely seems to enter our vocabulary (unless we’re referring to Americans, of course). But in a society that has euthanasia knocking down the door and fully funds abortion-on-demand, true patriot love is sorely needed. If we want to end abortion in […]Read more
Formed by students and for students, National Campus Life Network (NCLN) is the heart of the Pro-Life Student Movement in Canada. NCLN equips students to build a campus culture that respects and upholds the value and equality of all human life from fertilization to natural death; these students will in turn transform society, as they go […]Read more
University can be an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time. As you start a new chapter of your life, you’re looking for the people, the program, the clubs into which you fit. You’re looking ahead to your future career and future life. But don’t miss out on the present. As a university student, you have an […]Read more
We are completely stoked to have Devorah Gilman join us as a speaker this year at the Symposium! Who better to give a talk entitled “Flirt to Convert” than someone who does it almost every day? To be clear, by “Flirt to Convert” we mean maintaining a firm grasp on our people skills while bringing the message of life into what may seem a daunting conversation about abortion and other life issues. Devorah works full-time for The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and has had thousands of conversations about abortion on campuses and city streets across the continent! To give you an idea about this incredible lady, we asked her a few questions:
1. How did you first get involved in the Pro-Life Movement?
In my early teens I saw pictures of abortion victims and was convicted that I must do something to stop this injustice. From then on I volunteered for and attended various pro-life events, including helping out with OttawaU Students for Life.
2. What is your favourite project to do with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and why?
My favorite project to do with CCBR is the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP). The reasons being: 1. It profoundly impacts those who encounter it resulting in numerous changed hearts and minds. 2. Nothing else I have ever encountered so quickly equips people to be competent, compassionate and confident pro-life ambassadors. 3. The first two points sum up the main reasons. I just wanted a third point because I like having three points.
3. What is your favourite quote? How does it apply to your life?
”I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” — Martin Luther King Jr. This quote is encouraging and inspiring because it is true.
4. If you were a cloud, which type would you be?
I am a Cumulus cloud. I know this because I looked at a bunch of pictures of clouds and those were my favorite. Then I took one of those online quizzes “What type of cloud are you?” and it confirmed that I indeed am a Cumulus.
5. Why are you excited to be a part of the Symposium?
The Symposium was a game changer for me as a pro-life advocate. The training I received that week equipped me to defend the pre-born and is still useful to me as someone who works full-time in the pro-life movement. It’s an honor to be able to come back to the Symposium and help equip university students from across Canada to effectively defend life on their campuses. The Symposium is also a ton of fun! It’s an incredible opportunity to make friends, exchange ideas and encourage students who have the same passion and vision as you do.
To hear Devorah speak at this year’s Symposium, along with a great lineup of other amazing speakers, apply today!
It’s almost August.
And with those three words, students everywhere are gasping in horror. WHERE HAS THE SUMMER GONE?!!! If it’s nearly August then… SEPTEMBER IS NEXT!
If this realization feels as if a locker full of textbooks, course packs, and pro-life club brochures just crushed your soul, don’t panic. Take 2 deep breaths and read on:
Although there is a lot that goes into a school semester filled with pro-life campus activism…and actual schoolwork, you can relax by doing 5 simple things THIS week to take the pressure off.
1. Get the ball rolling by organizing your WEEKLY exec meetings now.
Ask your club secretary to take the lead on this by setting up a Doodle to figure out the best meeting day/time. Your club secretary should also follow-up with members until they give their availability and then report back on the best options.
In many cases, your exec members will already have their schedules and you can get this task out of the way early; if they don’t yet have their schedules, find out when they will have them and create a reminder in your phone/calendar so that you can start the process in a couple weeks or so.
2. Remind your club members about applying for the NCLN Symposium.
The earlier your members apply, the more time they’ll have to secure funding to offset the costs. Have you sent out a general email about this to your membership? Have you personally encouraged members to attend? Should YOU attend? Click here for details!
3. Get set for Clubs Days/Orientation Days/Frosh Week
by booking a table and organizing people to prepare the needed materials. It’s a simple task but important. Need help with your table? Check out NCLN’s Tabling Guide!
4. Do you need to re-register your club to maintain club status?
Look up the dates now to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines. (If you are interested in starting a club, contact your Campus Coordinator today to get their help as you begin the process!)
5. Talk to an NCLN staff member!
Our Campus Coordinators are here to help you stay on top of tasks like these. Just give us a shout and we’d be thrilled to talk to you and/or your entire club by email/phone/Skype/text or in-person and help you prepare for the upcoming semester. Our staff also comes on campus to offer training and assistance – contact us to schedule a Campus Visit!
Spend a few minutes on these tasks and you can get your fall semester off to a great start. And don’t forget that we’re here to help!
Attended Symposium 2013
Student at Brandon University
I grew up in a pro-life household but it wasn’t until the summer before university that I put these beliefs into action. A friend and I were discussing how Brandon University didn’t have a pro-life group on campus. Neither of us had much experience in pro-life work but we agreed to try and start a club together. Before I knew it, our simple conversation had turned into censorship and the threat of a legal battle with my student’s union. It took 13 months of fighting with our student’s union and the legal assistance of the Justice Centre for Constitution Freedoms before we were granted club status. Twenty five days after our historic approval I was able to attend the National Campus Life Network Symposium. The support and advice NCLN had provided during our struggle to club status was only intensified at the Symposium. I was thrust into the role of president without a clue as to what that meant and what I was expected to do. The pressure and stress was lifted after sessions where I heard what worked on other campuses, as well as received take-home resources with tips. I became equipped with the knowledge, the resources and the courage to be an active pro-life witness on my campus. And not only that, the Symposium also opened up a network of other active pro-life students across the nation to share ideas with and to find support in. My passion for the pro-life cause was formed and strengthened by the best of the best. I highly encourage anyone to attend the NCLN Symposium and they will discover effective ways to take the pro-life message to their campus, while also making great friends!
Elizabeth Espadero is a woman of grace, gentleness and a generous heart! She is truly a pro-life hero as she cares for her two beautiful daughters. Through her involvement in the club at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, Elizabeth helped the group thrive and encouraged members to grow – including NCLN’s own, Kathleen! We are so thankful for Elizabeth’s continued witness in the pro-life movement as a volunteer and as a loving mother. We asked her a few questions to gain some insight into her campus experience and how she continues to create a culture of life with her growing family.
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, Barry’s Bay, ON
Graduating year: 2010
Area of study: Humanities
ProLife Club name:
Paul Sanders and Janine Lieu ProLife Club
Years involved: 2
Current vocation: Married
How were you involved in pro-life work on campus? What did your role look like?
I was a member for one year, and assistant to the president of the club for the next.
What did you find was the biggest struggle of doing campus pro-life work?
Finding a balance between schoolwork and all of the demands of student life, and really trying to give as much as possible to the pro-life movement on campus.
What helped you through it?
A good, lively relationship with other members of the club. Keeping up the momentum, especially between the president and I, helped me to keep the goals of the club in the forefront of my mind, motivating me to keep working toward them. However, it is hard to remain motivated, and particularly, to set reasonable goals that will really serve your school well.
How does your past involvement in campus pro-life work affect your activities today?
During the course of my involvement in campus pro-life work, I became friends with several very dedicated individuals who now work full-time in the movement here in Canada. Through social media and the odd chance to catch up with them in person, I am able to keep abreast of what is happening in the Canadian pro-life world, and am able to help as much as I’m able, through attending Life Chains and the March in Victoria, helping with fundraisers for the local crisis pregnancy center, and mainly trying to build the culture of life through my own little family.
Has being a mother affected/deepened your view of what it means to be pro-life? If so, how?
It’s funny, I don’t think motherhood has deepened my view of the sanctity of life, so to speak, but I now feel more than ever for those women who have been traumatized by abortion. The connection I have with my daughters is different than any other human relationship I’ve known, and for that to be cut short in such a violent way would be unthinkable. More than ever, I hope and pray that each woman contemplating abortion will somehow have a conversation, or see a picture, or in some other way be confronted with the reality of the life within her, and so have a real connection with her little one – that her heart will be gently changed.
As a mother yourself, do you have any words of encouragement or advice for other young moms, who may be struggling with an unexpected pregnancy?
It’s a cliche, but I think that in a crisis like an unexpected pregnancy (just like all very hard times in life), it’s crucial to live one day – even one moment – at a time. There will always be someone willing and able to help: a place to stay, to connect her with resources, help her through the difficult and painful changes that will come. There are SO many families desperately wanting a child to love. If she could somehow live one day at a time through the pregnancy, and persevere, the heartache of that time will be so worth it to give life to a new little person.
Thank you so much for your continued witness in the pro-life movement, Elizabeth! It is a blessing to know you and to see your beautiful family grow!
“Do you know what the current legal status of abortion is in Canada?”
“Umm… I think its 12 weeks?”
“Actually, a woman can legally have abortion in Canada through all 9 months of her pregnancy – for any reason or no reason at all.”
“Are you serious??”
“Do you think that abortion should be restricted more than this?”
This is the common conversation we have with people during our surveying events. This summer, NCLN has taken our campus tactics to the streets. Using resources from We Need a Law.ca, we are able to present the facts to Canadians about our lack of abortion law, and give them something to do about it. Most Canadians are entirely unaware of the lack of protection for the pre-born in our country, and are shocked to know the truth.
“Since we open the conversation in a survey-style, people know that their opinion is valued from the start. From there, we are able to have an open and honest conversation about the issue of abortion in Canada,” said Jesse LeBlanc, president of TWU’s pro-life club. “It’s very encouraging to see that once people know the facts, most are uncomfortable with the legal state of abortion in Canada, and are willing to contact their MP to make a change!”
Once informing a person of the current legal status, students are able to carry the conversation deeper, asking questions like, “At what point do you think abortion should be restricted?” and “Why?” By challenging the participant to articulate their position on abortion, they are able to help people to logically see that the pre-born are equally human and deserving of human rights, through all stages of pregnancy.
Rebecca Richmond reported, “I spoke to one young man who was pro-choice and thought there should be no abortion restrictions in Canada. By the end of the conversation he wanted to get involved in our efforts to END abortion and gave me his email!”
Conversations are happening and hearts and minds are being changed. We are so excited to continue these events throughout the summer and into the next school year!
We Need a Law survey events are easy to host – all you need is a few friends, We Need a Law resources, and some clipboards to record the survey answers. Contact NCLN today to receive resources and instructions to host your own survey event!
To participate in more of NCLN’s summer activities, visit our Summer Activism page for dates and details!
Meagan Nijenhuis, Summer Intern
I was thrown into the deep end, finding myself vice president of Life Choice at the University of Guelph before I even had time to put on my swimming goggles. My parents raised me to respect all human life but until university, the extent of my involvement had been showing up at 40 Days for Life once a year. I had been to a maximum of four meetings and suddenly I was on the executive. I needed to orient myself in the pro-life world. And fast. I had a pro-life club to help run. The NCLN Symposium gave me the water wings to survive the plunge into campus activism.
The Symposium introduced me to other student leaders from across the country, giving me a glimpse of the magnitude of the movement. I was surrounded by so many others who were also in the “deep end”, bringing the message of life to a campus shrouded with a culture of death. Sometimes life brings you together with people for an instant and then you go your separate ways. In the Pro-Life Movement, it has to be different. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other and continue onward together, no matter the distance that separates us. We are a team. I’ve been able to keep in contact, bounce ideas off and team up with students from across Canada because of relationships fostered at the Symposium.
As a newbie to the pro-life front, I wasn’t aware of the army of organizations that fight for preborn human rights. At the Symposium I was able to not only learn from many of them in sessions and workshops, but also to have one-on-one conversations with these renowned leaders throughout the weekend. The Symposium expanded my network of resources to include more experienced people I would be able to fall back on for advice while leading Life Choice through the fall and winter semesters.
The Symposium saturated us with helpful information from a wide range of disciplines. Over the course of the weekend talks were given on the psychology of those you talk to on the street, the current state of abortion law in Canada and different projects you can run on your campus like the Silent No More Awareness Campaign or “Choice” Chain among others. They were pumping more and more air into my water wings.
This introduction to the Pro-Life Movement fueled a zeal to protect all human life and gave me both the tools and the connections I needed to tread the waters of campus activism. I was set for life in the “deep end.”
To apply for this year’s Symposium, click here!
What comes to mind when you first hear the word “commodity”? I am sure that a wide array of products or natural resources that are bought and sold come to mind. In any case, what should not come to mind are human beings. Sadly, our culture reflects otherwise.
A few weeks ago, NCLN hosted an event in Toronto called “#CommodityCulture: Rescuing our Campuses from Rape Culture, Porn & Abortion” in Toronto. Before the evening, I had never thought about these topics together, believing that because each had their own roots and reasons, it would be a bit challenging to link them. However, two things I heard that evening from our wonderful guest speakers stuck with me, forever cementing the interconnectedness of the topics in my mind.
“When we can objectify the person right in front of us whom we can see, we can very easily objectify the pre-born child that we cannot see.”
This point made by Jonathon Van Maren (CCBR) around the beginning of his presentation was as clear as day to me.
If the acts of rape and watching pornography are performed by persons who justify the objectification of another human being as a means to satisfy their lustful desires, then why should we expect a pre-born child, whose humanity is hidden within the womb, to be seen with any sort of dignity? The child is merely an impediment to pleasure, and because we can pretend that it’s “not really there yet,” our own desires take precedence.
Discussing the issue of abortion with the culture would be much easier if everyone we talked to understood the concept of their value as a human being. But this task becomes much more difficult when our culture accepts or ignores the use and abuse of so many. It became much more obvious to me that because of the way certain born human beings are being used, the pre-born child could easily be forgotten and dismissed. Where do we go from here, then?
“The pro-life movement is the answer to fighting commodity culture.”
I heard these words stated at the end of Daniel Gilman’s presentation and it was a concept I needed to grapple with. I thought to myself, “Wow, that was a bold statement – how can that possibly be true? We have such a big task already with just dealing with how rampant abortion is.”
I think the problem was that in my mind, I was still categorizing the three issues separately. We have to remember that the people we speak to about abortion may be hindered from seeing the truth of its destruction because of our commodity culture. These are people who are exposed to, subjected to, and/or have participated in the commodity of human beings, whether by being addicted to porn, having been a victim of rape, or taking part in pornography or the rape-culture. So those of us who do see the truth of abortion in spite of the commodity culture need to know what we are up against.
This event emphasized the fact that rape-culture, porn, and abortion contribute to a commodification of human beings for the purposes of pleasure and convenience in any of its disguises. These three cultural poisons are infecting university and college campuses across the country in great numbers. Being aware and educated on what we are exposed to is a sure way to remind ourselves that trying to change hearts and minds is about more than trying to save the next generation from abortion, but also to save our own generation from the lies of our commodity culture.
Check out “Porn Fuels Rape“ to read more about Jonathon and Daniel’s work.
We are so excited to welcome Meagan Nijenhuis as our summer intern! Full of passion, spunk and unwavering defense of the preborn, Meagan has served as the VP of University of Guelph’s club, Life Choice. She will be assisting NCLN with a number of projects, including Symposium planning and Summer Activism! In honor of her first day in the office, we thought we’d ask her a few questions…
How did you first get involved in pro-life activism?
Completely and unexpectedly thrown in. I met Hanna Barlow, U of G Life Choice’s past president at a pro-life event and next thing I knew I was at an NCLN training session on campus. A month later I was the up and coming vice president. “Voluntelling” seems to be a thing in this world of activism.
Who inspires you and why?
Queen Esther. She defended the cause put before her, at immense cost to herself.
What are you most excited about doing during your internship with NCLN?
I am really looking forward to helping with research and planning for the Symposium in the fall. NCLN as an organization helps to save lives across the country so I’m super excited to join their office staff in the fight for life these next couple weeks.
What do you hope to do when you graduate from Guelph?
As it currently sits? I’ll hit up MacMaster University for a master’s so I can do physiotherapy while squeezing in pro-life work wherever possible. The most abortion-prone women are university age so it’s the people around me who need to hear the pro-life message. Maybe I should just stay a student forever…too bad my wallet doesn’t agree.
If NCLN staff came to your house for dinner, what kind of an evening would you plan?
Guelph has such great food, I’d have to take them out for dinner- probably at the Works, a fantastic burger place downtown. Then we’d get some ice cream at the Boathouse (yumm…Moosetracks!), go for a walk in Royal City Park and I’m sure they’d all love to see Church of Our Lady.
True patriot love.
We sing the words in our anthem, yet the word ‘patriot’ rarely seems to enter our vocabulary (unless we’re referring to Americans, of course). But in a society that has euthanasia knocking down the door and fully funds abortion-on-demand, true patriot love is sorely needed.
A few weeks ago, in the $1.00 book bin outside a secondhand book shop, I picked up a book bearing that title: “True Patriot Love,” written by Michael Ignatieff while he was the leader of the Liberal Party. Flipping through the pages, I realized I prefer his prose to his politics.
“People love their country despite a lot of things,” Ignatieff writes. “They love it because they haven’t given up on it. They love it because of its unrealized possibilities. We love our country not because we think it is perfect or even satisfactory, but because we think it can change for the better….We never love a country just for what it is. We love it for what it might yet become. The same is true for the love we bear ourselves. Love is always rooted in hope.” (10)
Growing up, I had a bit of a hope deficiency myself. My deep sense of civic responsibility somehow co-existed with a profound cynicism. I was strongly against abortion but it seemed an insurmountable injustice, and I was just a kid so what was I to do? I thought I loved my country, but in some respects I had given up on it. Perhaps many of us have.
But to give up on Canada is to give up on the Canadian men and women, suffering in the aftermath of their abortions. To give up on Canada is to give up on the preborn children who perished from abortion. To give up on Canada is to give up on all the vulnerable who will perish if we aren’t willing to stand on guard for them. To give up on Canada is to give up on all that it could become: a society that truly values and respects each and every human being.
Canada is not a good in and of itself, but a project begun by the Fathers of Confederation in pursuit of a common good for the people under their care. But present injustices violate the common good in profound and disturbing ways, setting before us steep challenges. At every level of government, within civic society, and especially within our own families and communities, we must take up the project and strive towards the Canada that should be, the Canada that will respect and protect each and every human being.
This necessarily includes our work on campuses. Our universities not only contain the age demographic most vulnerable to undergoing abortions, but also are responsible for forming and shaping young leaders who, in turn, shape the culture and the policies of our nation. To move our nation we must first move our own wounded generation from a place of apathy to one of action. We need a generation of patriots.
For, according to Michael Ignatieff, “Patriotism is the sentiment that makes a people demand reform, change and improvement in their country; patriotism is the source of the impatience and anger that makes abuses intolerable, injustice unacceptable and complacency a delusion.”
Yet, Ignatieff was supportive of abortion as a ‘right’, having forgotten to include the need for a true patriot love, one that is rooted in the truth of human life, not merely the politically acceptable.
On July 1st, 147 years ago, the Fathers of Confederation became nation builders. It’s time for our generation to continue the project of Canada, for our true patriot love compels us to stand on guard for our nation and for each other.(1) Michael Ignatieff, True Patriot Love: Four Generations in Search of Canada (Toronto: Penguin Group, Viking Canada, 2009), 10. (2) Ignatieff, 176.
This summer, do yourself a favour: on a sunny day, go find a quiet place in a park or by a lake or ocean, take a notebook with you, and spend 30 min reflecting on this. I can guarantee the time you put into it now will benefit you ten times more in the long run!
The following excerpts are taken from the article Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow. This article provides great insights into how we can grow as the leaders we are called to be. Reflect on the quotes and the questions to see where you can improve yourself so you can better lead others in sharing the pro-life message on your campus.
Leadership is an expression of your heart and soul. To become a leader, you need to know your higher purpose and believe in it passionately.
• What would you say your higher purpose is? Do you live a consistent life where your actions are in line with this purpose?
• Does your role in the pro-life club help you achieve this purpose?
Leaders need to feel comfortable in their own skin. It begins with the ability to explore and share one’s life story by helping people understand how we all mesh together for a meaningful journey. You intentionally begin to discover your authentic self by connecting with who you really are. Authentic leaders are not power driven but meaning driven people.
• What brings meaning to your life? How would you articulate this to others?
• How does your role in the pro-life club bring more meaning to your life?
As a leader you need to be fully committed to nurturing the well-being and commanding the trust of the people around you. Only in the context of a meaningful relationship can people feel empowered and inspired to demonstrate their greatest potential.
• Identify 2 students who you will meet up with for coffee this summer, taking the time to get to know them more so you can better work together in the pro-life club this upcoming year.
• What potential do you see in these students? Help them see how they can develop this by participating in the club.
The vision and direction of a team [is] about the ability of the leader to capture the big WHY in the hearts and minds of others. People rally behind a strong vision when they know WHY they doing what they doing.
• Why do you do what you do with the pro-life club? How do you articulate this to others?
• Do you truly believe in the vision of your club? “If you don’t get goose bumps telling others where our life is heading, your vision isn’t compelling enough to shape your behaviour.”* Is your vision compelling enough to inspire others to action?
As you start to look at the upcoming school year, keep these reflection points in mind. Are you approaching your leadership position in the pro-life club with the right heart? Are you the kind of person others want to follow?
Be sure to talk to your Campus Coordinator about your leadership goals and plans! We’d love to work with you to help you achieve them!