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National Campus Life Network > Blog > Articles by: kathleen

The Pro-Life Leaders’ Book List – Part 1

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When I joined NCLN’s staff team in 2010, a few pro-life leaders gave me a list of book recommendations, books that became allies as I learned more about the issues, social movement strategies, leadership and how-to-run a national not-for-profit. Many more books found their way to my office bookshelf in the years since. And so, during this transition, I began to note the various books that staff would find helpful – and maybe book that students would find helpful too. That led to a thought, “I wonder what other Canadian pro-life leaders’ top book recommendations would be?” And so I asked. The result is a series of posts on their top book recommendations (because otherwise this would be a really long post!.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be posting their top recommendations on the must-read books for budding pro-life leaders. We hope you enjoy!

-Rebecca Richmond

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marketing of evilJonathon Van Maren
Communications Director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform

The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian
“This book lays out in detail how our culture got to where it is with abortion, hook-up culture, pornography, and so much more. Many people often ask, “How did things get this bad?” David Kupelian answers that question decisively and brilliantly.”

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Anastasia Pearse
unaborted socratesWestern Campus Coordinator of National Campus Life Network and soon-to-be Executive Director

The Unaborted Socrates by Peter Kreeft
“This apologetics book is written as a dialogue; its unique way of explaining the pro-life position provides a practical perspective on how we can share the truth of our position in our discussions with others.”

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Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

alexExposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide by Alex Schadenberg
“This book is based on the data from recent studies from jurisdictions where it has become legal.”

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hand of godAndrea Mrozek
Executive Director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada

The Hand of God by Dr. Bernard Nathanson
“I remember being really affected by Bernard Nathanson’s The Hand of God.” N.B. Bernard Nathanson was a former abortionist and co-founder of NARAL in the U.S. After an ultrasound-guided abortion, he became pro-life.

 

 

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the islandAndré Schutten
General Legal Counsel & Ontario Director of the Association for Reformed Political Action

The Island (film, 2005)
“This movie, quite possibly unintentionally, is one of the best arguments against embryonic stem cell research. *Spoiler alert!* The movie powerfully depicts the moral wrong in creating human life for the express purpose of medical experimentation or as a mere means to enhancing the life of other humans. The principles at play in the movie, as they apply to clones, apply equally and exactly to human embryos.”

 

 

 

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Photo by Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon, CC 2.0

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The Nitty Gritty Not-So-Glorious Pro-Life Life

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Written by Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

There’s a part of me that wants to do great things.

Big things. Awesome things. Culture-changing life-saving awesome-awesome things. The kind of things that make it into the movies that stir our hearts. Whether it’s the film Amazing Grace, about the abolition of the slave trade, or even the heroic quest of Lord of the Rings, something in us is captivated by adventure, heroism, and saving the day.

Then there’s the part of me that looks at the great things, blanches, and says, “Nope. No Way. Not me.”

I suspect most of us can relate to both of these and are well-acquainted with the tension that exists between them.

I know some that don’t let the ‘no way’ part get in the way of their drive for greatness. But ‘no way’ tends to be more in control of my life, at least in terms of how I feel about my ability to do great things.

In many if not most moments, I can push away that sky-high hope for greatness and think, “I don’t want to do big things. I don’t want people to make movies about my life because I don’t want to have to do anything big enough to warrant having a movie made about my life! I don’t feel capable of big things.”

It’s a paralyzing place to be.

The good news, though, if you suffer from the same fears as I do, is that the little things are the important things. They are the critical, foundational, essential, necessary things. And they are doable – even for shrinking violets like yours truly.

Am I saying not to aim for great things? No, absolutely not. But if you want to achieve those big things, you’ll still have to start with small things.

They are the little choices we are faced with everyday: the opportunities we have to speak up to defend life, the tasks we decide to accomplish to work towards that club event or that project, the emails we write to follow-up with that student we spoke to at our clubs table, the activities we decide to attend.

Consider the movies I mentioned earlier, or really any movie where people right injustice, where they overcome the odds. There’s a moment at the end of Amazing Grace where my heart nearly bursts as we watch the members of Britain’s parliament vote to abolish the slave trade. That’s what we want. We want to watch our parliament vote to protect preborn children and their moms from abortion. We want our culture to have shifted to the point that this vote is what all Canadians want.

But the thing is, Amazing Grace depicts a 18 year struggle in…2 hours. A lot of life is simply not captured. In fact, in so many movies, you’ll often see a sort of music video in the middle. That montage of people doing all of those little, hard, boring tasks that are necessary but…not very exciting for the audience. Hence the music video format. Whether it’s about abolition or whether it’s Frodo and Sam plodding along to Mordor, it’s all the work that goes into a victory.

It’s easier to be a part of the big, rousing events, like marching in the March for Life, in a sea of people who all believe what you believe. It’s harder to make those choices for life in our everyday lives: that conversation, that project, that monthly donation, that weekly club commitment. It’s harder to put ourselves out there when we’re not part of a sea of people but when we’re among our own communities, our own families, our own friends – the places where our reputations are on the line, the places where being pro-life might cost us something.

And yet, that’s where we have the most influence.

We often get discouraged because we don’t understand how we can affect society – it seems so big, so distant, so immoveable. But when we start in our existing relationships, within our communities, amongst the people we have access to and influence with, the people who know us, the people we are in contact with, that’s when societal change starts to follow.

It’s not easy; I won’t pretend it is. But that’s what social transformation needs. That’s what leads to victory.

And that’s our challenge: to be faithful to the cause in those small sacrifices, those not-so-momentous moments, the things that might never make it into the movies of our lives. And regardless of whether we want the big things or we’re afraid of them (or somehow both!), the good news is that we all can do the little things and all of the little things make all the difference in the world.

 

 

 

Photo by Sebastien Wiertz, CC 2.0

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March for Life Victoria Recap!

Written by Ashley Bulthuis, NCLN Summer Intern

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Last week, we celebrated the March for Life in Victoria, the very heart of parliament in British Columbia. Around 2,000 participants assembled to raise awareness on the polarized issues of abortion and euthanasia.

The day started with prayer, offered both at the Reformed prayer service and masses in St. Andrew’s and in St. Patrick’s Churches.

The March began at 1:45 in Centennial Square. From there, the crowds departed, hitting the pavement brandishing “We Choose Life” signs. Participants joined together specifically to oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify the law against doctor-assisted suicide, with the theme for this year’s March being “Every Life’s Worth Living.”

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The swarming sea of people streamed through the city streets, coming to a standstill at the B.C. Legislative Buildings for the rally at 2:15. Music from a live band flooded the air as participants rested on the grassy lawn, soaking in the glowing, midday sun.

The keynote speakers included Bishop Gary Gordon, PJ & Pamela Lewis, Emily Mraz, Dr. Will Johnston and Courtney DeGeest. The Master of Ceremonies was Pavel Reid. Bishop Gary Gordon, from the Diocese of Victoria, opened the rally, expressing how thankful he was for those who participated in the March, and emphasizing the importance of bringing the pro-life message back home to our communities.

Courtney deGeest is a full-time mom to 3 boys, and passionately advocates for children with special needs. She gave a personal account relaying the challenges and joys of raising her son Asher, who has had serious health and developmental complications from birth. PJ and Pamela Lewis, from Mission, BC, similarly affirmed the value of all people regardless of their abilities or disabilities. They shared their experience of having a daughter who was born with a rare genetic disorder, passing away just after birth, and spoke of their joint journey of healing and finding peace amidst the incredible loss.

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Emily Mraz, president of the pro-life club at Simon Fraser University, recounted an experience she had speaking to a woman who had had an abortion. Through her story, Emily conveyed the need for us to compassionately reach and touch a person’s heart before we can change their mind.

Dr. Will Johnston, chair of the Euthanasia Coalition of British Columbia, concluded the rally, stating that “Supplying real healthcare means supplying therapy. Therapy improves function, therapy does not intentionally create a corpse.” In addition to declaring his philosophy of healthcare, Dr. Johnston emphasized that our government needs more than a year to make such a massive decision regarding assisted suicide. He stressed the need for us to contact our politicians to encourage them to take more time to discuss this decision that will impact all Canadians.

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The rally was followed by the Pro-Life Gala. This was hosted by National Campus Life Network and the pro-life club at the University of Victoria, Youth Protecting Youth. The guest speaker was Bishop Gordon; he shared his experience of volunteering at a pro-life table while he was studying. He described how challenging it can be to talk about the issue with one’s peers, and how much courage it takes to reach out and initiate these discussions. Bishop Gordon expressed his gratitude towards the pro-life students for their hard work, and applauded them fors promoting the cause of the unborn.

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The need for pro-life activism on campus was affirmed by Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for NCLN. She spoke about NCLN’s mission, which is to train and support pro-life students to effectively reach out to their campuses. The finances raised during the Gala supported NCLN’s outreach as well as the YPY bursary for single student mothers.

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Overall, it was a bittersweet day. The bitter taste of injustice is still in our hearts, yet the sweetness of hope remains as aftertaste, thanks to the compelling words of all the speakers and the courageous souls of those who came out to the March.

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Welcome Ashley! NCLN Western’s Summer Intern!

BLOG_Portrait_PICNCLN Western is pleased to welcome Ashley Bulthuis as our 2015 Summer Intern! Ashley has been a member of the University of the Fraser Valley Life Link club, and will be heading to Capilano in the fall to start a pro-life club on their campus! Ashley is very talented, compassionate, and continues to be a driven leader in this movement. This summer, she’ll be coordinating our Western Summer Semester, designing fresh online graphics, helping us create new resources for campuses across Canada, and many other great projects.

To introduce you to this wonderful woman, we’ve asked her a few questions!

1) How did you get involved in pro-life campus activism?

I was a student at the University of the Fraser Valley. There was a pro-life club on campus that my friends were members of. Naturally, I was curious, and sat in on a few meetings. One thing led to another and eventually, I became President of UFV LifeLink.

2) How did you get to know NCLN?

I first became familiar with NCLN by attending their Annual Symposium and sitting in on the motivational speeches and workshops offered there.

3) Why are you looking forward to your NCLN internship this summer?

I am MOST for designing my heart out this summer, planning events like the Symposium, and organizing fundraising parties!

4) What do you hope to get out of your internship this summer?

What I hope to get out of this internship is the ability to deliver a motivational pro-life presentation to my peers, to expand my knowledge on the abortion debate though extensive reading and research, and to utilize my knowledge and training to kickstart a pro-life club at Capilano University.

5) What are some of your interests?

I’m obsessed with art, philosophy, poetry and music. Oh, and did I mention that I’m a total font-a-holic? Say “NO” to Helvetica!

 

We’re looking forward to working with you this summer, Ashley! Thank you for giving so much of your time and talent to this movement!

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March for Life Recap!

It was so great to see so many of you on that sunny Thursday, walking alongside thousands of other pro-life people from Ontario and beyond!

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of some of the awesome events that took place!

Wednesday afternoon, our Executive Director, Rebecca Richmond, along with one of our students, Taylor Hyatt, and a few other alumni and notable pro-lifers, took part in the filming of EWTN’s National Pro-Life Roundtable. Through different sessions, various pro-life leaders were able to contribute their thoughts and experiences on topics such as the history of abortion in Canada, the recent Supreme Court Decision regarding Euthanasia, as well as the involvement of youth in the movement. The special will be aired on EWTN in the fall, before this year’s election. We’ll post a link when the dates are announced!

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Thursday morning, the air was electric with excitement as crowds began to fill Parliament Hill. For many, the March is a beautiful reunion of friends and family – and for us, its a reunion of staff and students from various campuses!

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Thursday evening, NCLN hosted the 7th Annual Life & Justice Student Dinner. The event is truly a celebration of our students as they close a school year of campus activism, and look forward to continuing their mission of bringing joy, hope, and healing to their campuses in the summer and coming school year.

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Students Christine Helferty (Queen’s Alive) and Michelle Caluag (University of Toronto Students for Life) gave beautiful testimonies of their campus experiences, how NCLN mentored them as leaders, and how they saw the pro-life message transform their peers.

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Michelle shared, “The reality is, being motivated is not enough. You have to overcome those fears. Don’t let them stop you. And remind yourself that you are much stronger than any of your fears. That’s one of the important lessons I’ve learned through this journey [on campus].”

Rebecca Richmond, our keynote speaker for the evening, gave her final address as Executive Director of NCLN. Beginning her presentation, she listed a number of stressful and challenging experiences that students have had sharing the pro-life message on campus. She quickly reminded us though, of the countless, incredible, life-changing moments that are happening on campus because of the work of pro-life university students.

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“But I also don’t believe in naive optimism. Things aren’t going to inevitably get better,” she continued, “It’s not inevitable that good things continue on campus; that pro-life students will continue to step up; or that NCLN is able to continue its work…

..Where your ‘yes’ counts is in your day-to-day lives, on campus and off. In attending that meeting, answering that email, in having that conversation that you’d rather not have, asking that question in class that draws attention to you.

When your ‘yes’ counts is in your day-to-day choices. The little things that no one might notice but that ultimately make all the difference.”

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We want to thank all of our students, across the country, for their incredible perseverance and service in this campus movement. We also want to thank all of our supporters, for uniting their passion to our cause and walking with us in this movement. The March for Life events were a wonderful celebration, and we look forward to continuing working with all of you throughout the year.

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To see the full album of March for Life photos, click here.

If you’d like to support the work of NCLN, please click here.

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I’m Sick of the March for Life

m4l march banner

Written by Rebecca Richmond

As long as you remember to wear sunscreen, the March for Life can be a lot of fun. At the National March we had gorgeous weather, great speakers, and a large turnout, and it all produced a contagious energy that gives you hope for the movement. Take a look at the smiling faces of the attendees and you can immediately tell that we are a people who love life, and we’re not afraid to share that with the nation and, in particular on that particular day, with our elected representatives.

But I’m sick of marching. I want to go to Ottawa every year to enjoy the tulips and have a reunion with my friends and colleagues. I enjoy the day, but the reality of why we march is sickening. The March is a protest, a public witness to politicians and to the country that there is a (taxpayer funded) human rights violation killing 100,000 Canadians every year.

I’m sick of the March because I’m sick of the injustice.

The March for Life and the dinners, EWTN TV specials and youth conferences that accompany it are only truly good in so far as they propel us back into our communities, our networks, our campuses. These one-day annual events are only truly impactful in so far as they serve as a springboard for local pro-life action that is regular, visible and engaging.

The point of a springboard is to help us reach new heights, but it only works if we choose to jump.

Tens of thousands marched at events across Canada last week, and that is good. And every year, people are impacted and inspired by the March to continue making a difference. That inspiration is a natural effect of the March. But we need to resolve to turn that inspiration into effective and regular action.

Because it’s not enough for tens of thousands to march. It’s not enough to have the largest gathering on Parliament Hill. It’s not enough until each one of the marchers become actively involved AND actively involve others.

What do I mean by actively involved? I don’t mean merely attending events. Attending pro-life events as a passive participant is insufficient; we need to be involved in the active mission of the movement.

1094735_10204669195348244_9006174920356542384_oAre we doing something – whether it’s from an educational, pastoral, cultural or political angle – that is changing hearts and minds and shifting the public consensus?

This action could be through organizations, through campaigns, through meetings and letters to your MP, through how you’re raising your family, through how you’re speaking up in conversations with coworkers and friends – the list goes on.

This is what is going to make our movement start to move. This is what builds a cultural juggernaut that obliterates the political talking points that (repeatedly) proclaim that the abortion debate is closed and/or that this is a woman’s right.

Our social movement is addressing an injustice that does more than discriminate or oppress Canadians – abortion kills.

angelaSo do our own lives and actions reinforce or undermine the pro-life message?

Do our commitments of time, energy and resources communicate to our communities that we are serious about the pro-life cause, that this is an injustice that needs to be addressed with urgency? Do we speak and act as though this issue – that of 300 pre-born children killed daily – is like any other charity…or do we treat it like the emergency it is?

If we aren’t living this way, if our pro-life commitment is largely based on one event a year, then no wonder our politicians don’t take us seriously. If we aren’t living this way, then our fellow Canadians won’t take us seriously either.

Social transformation requires us to have more than pro-life convictions, but also a pro-life lifestyle. And when tens of thousands of Canadians take up that lifestyle of active commitment, then we will hold captive the attention of politicians and, shortly thereafter, the March can become the celebration of a victory rather than the protest of an ongoing injustice.

For the sake of the lives we march for, we should all be sick of marching – but that shouldn’t discourage us. Instead, it should serve as a springboard into a lifestyle of committed action. Then, soon enough, we’ll be in Ottawa to admire the tulips rather than to protest an injustice.
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If you’d like to join our mailing list to receive updates on ways you can get actively involved in reaching campuses and Canadians this summer, send us an e-mail.

Not everyone can work full-time on the front lines of the movement, but you can support this necessary work. Click here to donate to NCLN, making it possible for us to continue reaching campuses and changing Canada. 

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A Note from Rebecca on her Upcoming Departure from NCLN

Written by Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

AGP_3888“I just wish I could do this full-time.” The thought kept popping into my head as an undergraduate student several years ago. I had become involved in founding and leading – thanks to some peer pressure – the pro-life club at the University of Ottawa. The realization of how important it was to reach out to our peers with the pro-life message had somehow made my paralyzing shyness less paralyzing and was shifting my plans, my priorities, and my future.

And so, upon my graduation in 2010, I was recruited to work with National Campus Life Network as the Executive Director. I was doing campus pro-life outreach full-time. I was no longer reaching one campus but helping students across Canada reach their campuses too. One year on staff turned into two and somehow turned into five.

Five years of working with incredible staff members and board members – past and present. These women and men constantly inspire me with their dedication, their talents, and their passion. They have challenged me, encouraged me, and journeyed with me as we’ve navigated the challenges and opportunities of the Student Pro-Life Movement. I am very excited to see Anastasia Pearse take on the direction of NCLN, bringing her determination and enthusiasm to the organization and the movement in a new way. Although I’ll be leaving staff, I look forward to continued involvement with this wonderful organization.

Five years of working with the most amazing students in the country. Students who make sacrifices on a daily basis with their time, as they balance multiple commitments with their life-saving work. Students who persevere and are bold and courageous even when facing censorship, discrimination or opposition on campus. Students who speak the truth with great love and great compassion, who are becoming – and are already – the nation’s great pro-life leaders. Students who graduate and go on to lead in pro-life organizations, in their fields and in their families.

As a student, I experienced how critical the support of NCLN and its staff was to the success of our pro-life club and my growth as a leader. After five years on staff with NCLN, I believe even more strongly in the importance of pro-life campus outreach and the essential way that National Campus Life Network equips students to be leaders at universities across Canada.

I have seen firsthand the difficulties that the university environment can present. But I have also seen firsthand how much hope there is on campuses, and how student leaders and NCLN are making a real difference in real lives and in the future of our nation. I believe in universities – and I’m going to return to university now. I believe in students – and I’m going to be a student once again. It will be incredibly difficult to leave this staff team, but I am looking forward to returning to university to pursue graduate studies. Universities produce Canada’s next generation of leaders – I intend to be one of them.

I will be stepping down from the Executive Director position on July 31st and officially leaving staff on August 31st. I am very grateful for the encouragement and support of NCLN’s staff and board during this time of transition, and I look forward to my continued involvement in this incredible organization.

Will you help me support NCLN in its incredible work? I am becoming a monthly donor. Would you consider a monthly or one-time donation in order to support us through this time of transition?

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NCLN Welcomes New Executive Director

anastasia leadershipNational Campus Life Network is pleased to announce that the organization will be welcoming Anastasia Pearse as the incoming Executive Director, effective August 1, 2015.

NCLN’s current Executive Director, Rebecca Richmond, has served the organization since 2010 and will be returning to school for graduate studies this fall. Rebecca will remain on staff throughout the summer to help with the transition. As a recognized speaker, Rebecca has spoken to thousands of Canadians of all ages, training and inspiring them to be pro-life leaders. Under Rebecca’s leadership, NCLN has refined and developed its messaging and strategies for pro-life campus outreach as well as the ways in which the organization mentors and builds young leaders. Along with initiating campaigns such as DefendGirls and Summer Semester, Rebecca has managed NCLN’s events including the Symposium as well as general operations. All of us at NCLN are very grateful for Rebecca’s dedication and service to the organization, the Pro-Life Student Movement in Canada and pro-life cause as a whole; we wish her great success in her studies.

Although Rebecca will be missed, NCLN is excited to welcome Anastasia to the role of Executive Director. In her role as Western Campus Coordinator since 2011, she has gained extensive experience working with students throughout western Canada, directly training and equipping them as leaders on their campus. Anastasia has supported student groups through conflicts with their student unions and administration, and coordinated multi-campus campaigns in British Columbia, including DefendGirls in 2013, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign B.C. Tour in 2014, and You’ll Never Regret Loving This Much in 2015.

Prior to her work with NCLN, Anastasia led the pro-life club at the University of Victoria. During this time, she launched a lawsuit against the student society, which had shut down the club on campus. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court in favour of Anastasia and the club, resulting in a restoration of the club’s status and funding on campus.

In addition to her campus work, Anastasia serves as part of the planning committee for the March for Life Victoria and is the Youth Representative on the board of LifeCanada. Having recently completed a Masters in Leadership at Trinity Western University in B.C., with a specialization in non-profits, Anastasia is poised to bring her proven skills and leadership expertise to the role of Executive Director.

As NCLN continues to grow and develop, we are accepting applications for Campus Coordinator positions in our Western and Central offices. We are looking forward to welcoming new staff to our team in the coming months, allowing us to continue expanding our capacity equip students to build a campus culture that respects and upholds the value and equality of all human life.

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