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National Campus Life Network > Blog > Articles by: western

Introducing our NCLN Summer Intern, Maria McCann!

We at NCLN are so excited to have Maria McCann join us this summer as an intern at our Toronto office! She will begin her 4th year of her undergraduate degree this summer at Western University in London, Ontario (UWO). She is studying English Literature, French, and Italian. She is passionate about Shakespeare, science fiction, coffee, and every breed of dog known to man. Of course, she is also passionate about justice; in particular, she wants to see the injustice of abortion end in her lifetime.

Maria and her brother, John-Paul
Maria and her brother, John-Paul

Tell us your story and how you became pro-life.

My “pro-life story” began years ago with the birth of my little brother, John-Paul. He was born very prematurely, which caused him to have brain damage and numerous ensuing disabilities. He faces many challenges in his everyday life, as he navigates a world designed for the able-bodied. In spite of (or perhaps because of) his difficulties, he lives every day with an enviable joy.

He has truly taught me that life does not have to be perfect in order to be beautiful.

His very existence challenges the culture of death: a culture that says he should have been aborted before birth…a culture that now suggests that even born people like him are perhaps better off dead than disabled. For all of my childhood and adolescence, I understood the pro-life movement as important for protecting the rights of John-Paul and of other vulnerable people.

How did you get involved in your campus pro-life club?

Near the end of my second year of undergrad, some gentle nudges by the Holy Spirit led me to joining the executive team for Western Lifeline, the pro-life club of UWO. In 2015, several of us decided to attend NCLN’s Symposium, a “boot camp” for pro-life students. The weekend conference turned out to be life-changing for me, learning how to talk to people about abortion with both conviction and compassion.

I was deeply moved by their message that, with 100,000 pre-born babies being killed every year through abortion in Canada, this is not a movement. This is an emergency. That sense of urgency motivated me to engage in weekly activism with Western Lifeline. That sense of urgency motivated me to spend my spring break doing pro-life activism through the Genocide Awareness Project. And that sense of urgency has motivated me to join the staff of NCLN as a summer intern.

Why did you decide to spend a summer working with NCLN?

My experiences on campus have led me to believe that NCLN’s mission is crucial, as students are desperately in need of the pro-life message.

Changing our campuses and inspiring youth today will lead to massive changes in the future, when those young people become the leaders of our society.

On a personal note, NCLN has been a huge support for me over the past year in my work with Western Lifeline, and I want to be that kind of support to other student leaders. I am excited for the projects in store for this summer, such as weekly activism doing clipboarding and Choice Chain. I am eager to help develop new materials that will aid students in the coming year.

Where are you most likely to be on the weekends?

On the weekends, you’ll likely find me checking out thrift stores for vintage tops, or used bookstores to feed my reading addiction. If I’m not at a thrift store or bookshop, I’ll be getting coffee and froyo with friends, or watching reruns of Doctor Who.

If you could be any person in history, who would you be?

I have a pretty specific time and location in mind. I’d love to be a modern-art lover in the early 1900s in Paris. It would be the epitome of cool to sit in a parlour chatting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso—the cult figures of literary and artistic modernism. I would basically be their groupie.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would love to spend a summer touring Italy, especially Tuscany. I have been learning Italian for the past couple years and would like to put my learning into practice. The Italian language and culture are so beautiful, and I want to taste some authentic Italian cuisine! It would also be amazing to see Rome, a city steeped in history.

Send Maria a welcome note! Write to us at info@ncln.ca

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University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union sued over censoring free expression on campus

After fighting since August to have their club status renewed for this school year, students from University of Toronto Students for Life (UTMSFL), with the representation of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, have filed a lawsuit against their student union. National Campus Life Network has been supporting UTMSFL throughout the process as they have been combating the immature and discriminatory behaviour of their student union. Our staff have been impressed and encouraged by their perseverance in this case, and continued dedication to sharing the pro-life message on their campus.

NCLN Staff with UTM Students for Life
NCLN Staff with UTM Students for Life

From the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union sued over censoring free expression on campus

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a court action against the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), to defend the free expression rights of a pro-life student group that is being denied registered club status by UMTSU.UTMSU has refused to renew the club status of Students for Life for the 2015-16 year, effectively barring the student group from using the student centre and accessing student union resources.  As a result, in September of 2015, Students for Life could not join other campus clubs in setting up a table during clubs’ week—a key event for recruiting new members.

UTMSU had granted club status for Students for Life in the 2014-15 school year, but changed its mind specifically because of Students for Life’s “stance on Abortion”.  UTMSU’s mission statement includes a commitment “[t]o safeguard the individual rights of the student, regardless of race, creed, sex … or personal or political beliefs,” and lists “strength in diverse voices and opinions” as a “fundamental belief.”

“It appears that UTMSU sees diverse opinions as good for most topics, but not abortion,” stated Calgary lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

After receiving a legal warning letter from the Justice Centre in October 2015, Russ Adade, UTMSU Vice-President, changed his previous rationale for denying club status to Students for Life, namely, the club’s stance on abortion.  Adade instead told Students for Life that the reason their club was denied status was “violations and discrepancies we found within your constitution in relation to the clubs handbook and UTMSU operational policy as it pertains to clubs.”

Students for Life immediately made the required changes to their constitution, but UTMSU has continued to deny club status, necessitating court action.

Students for Life has filed a court action against UTMSU for violating its own rules, for acting with bias and bad faith, for breaching the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness, and for failing to respect students’ fundamental freedoms of expression and association.

“The actions of UTMSU have demonstrated their disregard for their own rules, and for students’ freedom of expression and freedom of association,” stated Diane Zettel, President of Students for Life.

For more information, please contact:

Diane Zettel, President, UTM Students for Life
647-224-9339 or diane.zettel@mail.utoronto.ca

John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
403-619-8014 or jcarpay@jccf.ca

 Visit the UTMSFL website
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As you celebrate…

As you celebrate…

Here’s a playlist to keep you singing and dancing!

Complied by Joanna Krawczynski, Western Campus Coordinator

We’ve got so many reasons to celebrate: Christmas, the New Year, Kathleen and Jesse’s wedding…(T-2 days!) Here at NCLN, celebrations and dance parties always go hand in hand. Always.

To help you get your groove on, here are some sweet tunes that we will have on our playlists as we celebrate with our families and friends.

And – extra bonus! Each song carries a message that we hope you feel that you can be loud and proud about. Please note that while we enjoy these songs, they are still relatively new to us, so if a lyric lets you down, let us know.

It seems that there are only a few songs kicking around these days that have a positive message AND sound good, but we’ve learned that it just takes a little digging to find them. Trust us, and enjoy! All the best for 2016, from all of us at NCLN!

New Years - photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Love Life, John Mamann ft. Kika

This song has a happy tune, pairing well with a beach getaway and lots of friends. Plus it’s in both official languages, so if you’ve been wanting to learn, here’s your chance.

Beautiful, Mali Music

A slower song, sharing the story of a dancer who finally recognizes her true value and beauty, things which go beyond merely the physical.

Amazing Life, Britt Nicole

Super bouncy. This one is for those of us who enjoy techno or remixes!

The Nights, Avicii

Let’s admit it, the wisdom of our parents is worth remembering… and dancing to…

I Lived, One Republic

About living life with all that we’ve got, even when it hurts, but always worth it.

I Feel So Alive, Capital Kings

A pop-y song celebrating a fresh start, one you will easily be singing along to within the first thirty seconds.

This is Living, Hillsong Young & Free ft. Lecrae

Another pop-y sounding song, celebrating the Christian understanding of life in Christ.

Song for My Unborn Son, Sam Martin

If you need to chill out, listen to this. Every time I turn this on, the song gives me happy goosebumps (yes, that’s a thing).

Home, A Guy and A Girl

This song is by our very own Kathleen and her soon-to-be-husband –  keep them in your prayers as you enjoy their sweet song!

P.S. Have your own favorites? Send ‘em over! As the saying goes, sharing is caring…

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Merry Christmas from NCLN!

 

Dear Friends,

 

Our staff at NCLN wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas. We are so incredibly blessed to be able to work with and for you as we support pro-life student leaders and share our life-affirming, life-saving message on university campuses. We have much to be thankful for and rejoice over as we celebrate this joyous season!
As we reflect on the meaning of the season, there is so much that affirms and encourages us in our pro-life ministry. We encourage you to take  couple minutes to read our Christmas reflection, written by our Western Campus Coordinator, Joanna.

GEARING UP FOR 2016!

 

To ensure you’re equipped to start off the new year, we have a variety of resources, campaigns, and events to help you impact your campus!

 

SPARC up your campus!

SPARC 

Our monthly SPARC outreach will continue, starting in January with a pro-life t-shirt day on January 28th (commemorating the 28th anniversary of the R. v. Mortgentaler decision that struck down all laws against abortion in Canada). Click here to download the Spring 2016 SPARC Calendar!

 

Order a Without Exception Tshirt!

 

Geared for Life T-Shirts

Check out our Geared for Life page and order a pro-life t-shirt! Wearing the t-shirt is a simple way to be a pro-life witness, and can lead to many fruitful conversations. Buy one by January 8th so you have a chance to receive it in time for our January SPARC event!

 

 

Responding to Physician Assisted Suicide in Canada

Our staff are working with LifeCanada on a campaign we can use on our campuses and in our communities to educate people about physician assisted suicide, and to move them to action as we support the vulnerable in our society. To kickstart the campaign, our NCLN Western Office will be co-hosting a workshop in Vancouver on Saturday January 30th. Stay tuned for further details.

 

QA project

The QA Project

Need more resources to fuel your QA Project activism? Visit our Geared for Life page to order cards, pins, and stickers online!

We pray you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for all the amazing work you’ve done to bring more light and hope into this world.

Love,

Your NCLN Team

Merry Christmas

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Another Kind of Christmas Shoe

Another Kind of Christmas Shoe:

A reflection on the greatest gift that you and I have to offer

Written by Joanna Krawczynski, Western Campus Coordinator

 

A close friend of All photos courtesty of pixabay.commine does not like Christmas. For her, the sentimental songs and glittering gifts only offer promises that are never fulfilled. The radio sings about cozy companionship, twinkling storefronts proclaim dreams coming true… then we go straight from Winter Wonderland into the frenzy of Boxing Day, only to wind back up in our office chairs on Monday.

I’m also not a huge fan of dizzying store line-ups. I also get annoyed when Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree comes on the radio three times a day. As a Christian, Christmas carries a special significance for me that, in spite of my best intentions, sometimes slips into the shadow of preparations and celebrations.

Christmas is often conflated with gift-giving. And rightly so, except when giving is misunderstood to be about shiny ribbon and bloated stockings. When it comes to Christmas, we have a special opportunity to recognize the immeasurable value of another person by offering them the greatest gift we can give: the gift of self. In doing so, we are mirroring that first Christmas! Imagine: God loved us so much that He came to a tiny town and was born in a dirty stable to a teenage mom, to live a lPhoto courtesty of pixabay.comife totally dedicated to pouring Himself out for others.

Love is a gift that can never be wrapped – in anything besides swaddling clothes, that is. As Mother Teresa wrote, “Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”

This reminds me of a Christmas tradition we recently adopted at home. One year, we decided to flip a small wooden folding table upside down and turn it into a hay-filled “manger” alongside our family Christmas tree. Gift-giving then took on a new twist: gifts for my family went under the tree, gifts for the Christ Child went under the manger.

The first year we did this, I put my dance shoes under the manger… after much hesitation. Finding gifts for Jesus was much harder than I thought it would be! To make matters more complicated, I decided to combine this with another tradition of ours: every year, we set an extra place at our table in case an unexpected stranger knocks at our door. That year, I thought it would be fun to also turn those gifts laid at the manger into a collection for the stranger, should he ever make an appearance.

Photo courtesty of pixabay.com

For some reason, giving things away made me realize how much I treasured them. I never imagined that my dance shoes (nothing fancy, just my worn sneakers!) would be something that I would have a hard time giving away. But there I was, shoes in hand, standing humbly before the manger, unable to bend down to give them away.

To me, those shoes represented my dream of one day having a dance team of my own. For me, to lay down my shoes was like laying down my dream and saying, “God – may this gift you’ve given me be used to bless someone else, even if that means I have to part with it.”

In the end, my shoes lay under the manger, undisturbed, as my family and I gathered around the table to feast, then jammed at the piano and danced together. As for me and my bare feet – I didn’t regret a moment of it.

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, as you celebrate with friends, family, and maybe even strangers, may God’s amazing love for you be a reminder of the precious gift that your own life is. May your joy overflow and never run Photo courtesty of pixabay.comempty as you give of yourself in generous love for others.

This may cost you more than your shoes, but it is only in completely giving of ourselves that we can truly love others and be filled with the love we so deeply desire – a desire that neither dizzying line-ups nor jingling bells could ever hope to satisfy.

Merry Christmas and a blessed 2016, from all of us at NCLN!

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Dialogue Series, Part 3

Poverty, Difficulty, and Suffering

Written by Clarissa Canaria

 

Over one fifth of abortions are reported to be for financial reasons (Guttmacher Institute, 2005). In my years of being a pro-life advocate, this situation has been one of the most common I have heard, with the “logic” being something along these lines:

If a woman is financially unable to take care of a child, both of them will be in poverty. And if both of them are in poverty, both of them will suffer and live difficult lives.

Some people then carry this situation further, saying:

If that’s the case, the child is more likely to be a criminal in future.

We can all agree that having financial issues and being in poverty can lead to some challenges. But the above thinking contradicts so much of what we appreciate and value in the people around us and those we admire: their courage and perseverance in overcoming difficult circumstances.

If we would not accept the killing of born people who are starving in a third-world country, a toddler who’s parents are in a financial crisis, or those living in low-income neighbourhoods because statistics show possible correlations between poverty and crime, why do we use this same reasoning to kill preborn human beings?

Our society has been inconsistent for far too long. We are encouraged to help those who are suffering, by giving of our time and resources to alleviate their pain. We commend individuals who choose to take a difficult path and who have found the strength to overcome their challenges even though it may be hard. Regardless of their background or circumstances, we provide opportunities for people to do good in this world. However, in the case of abortion we overlook these calls to action, discouraging people from taking what may be a difficult path. Promoting abortion in these cases, stating that the preborn would be better off dead, devalues the lives of those who do in fact live in these challenging situations.

I once spoke to a woman who identified herself as being adamantly pro-choice, citing these exact reasons of poverty, difficulty, and suffering to back up her perspective. After asking her similar questions about how we treat born people in difficult circumstances, she said it herself: “In an ideal world, there would be no need for an abortion.”

Killing the preborn child does not suddenly make this an ideal world. It doesn’t eliminate a mother’s financial problems nor does it remove her difficult circumstances. We can only work towards this ideal world when we as a society consistently encourage people to choose the right thing, even when it may be difficult, and help and support those who do. We do this because we know that each and every human life is worth living and has value, and this value is not dependent upon the circumstances we find ourselves in – or the state our world is in.

difficult circumstances meme

 

So in everything that we do, let’s strive to create a world where we affirm the lives of all those around us, helping those who are facing difficulties and empowering them to overcome their challenges.

 
That’s something we can all agree on.

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Dialogue Series, Part 2

Responding to Tough Questions: Adopting Unwanted Children & Addressing Animal Rights

 

In this post, our summer intern, Ashley Bulthuis, shares how she addressed the topics of what to do with unwanted children and how to address the fact that humans are different than animals.

 

While leading a clipboarding  event in Fort Langley, I was conversing with a self-proclaimed “cat-lady” on the issue of abortion’s legal status in Canada. When asked what she thought the current restrictions were, she assumed that abortions were only legal up until the 2nd trimester. Upon hearing that there currently is no criminal law in Canada restricting abortion, she was taken aback. After further discussion however, she held her belief that abortion was still a matter of personal choice.

She drew the comparison between unwanted infants being abandoned by their parents to foster care homes, to the surplus of abandoned animals being dropped off daily at the SPCA. The lady volunteers at the SPCA,  and could attest to the many animals coming in – more than they could adequately provide for. Knowing about my pro-life stance, she asked me if I would be willing to adopt abandoned children to protect them from our country’s flawed foster care system.  I said that I believe I am currently doing all I can. As a student, I cannot financially support or care for someone else’s children adequately. Nevertheless, I can encourage women to seek other options, rather than abortion. I can volunteer at and give financially to organizations like Hope for Women and Birthright, or write letters to my local MP. However, my main focus as a pro-life advocate is to educate students and the general public on the issue of abortion and by doing so, change our culture one heart at a time. I am just one person and I am doing what I am capable of.

After stating this, I pointed out that I noticed she was very empathetic towards the unwanted and often abused animals which she encountered on a weekly basis.

“Would you be willing to adopt the animals that are dropped off at the SPCA?” I asked her.

She admitted that no, she would not be willing to do so. She knew she could not save them all, but as a volunteer, she could at least help some. Similarly, I told her that I could not adopt every child I came across. Like her, I’m doing my small part in solving a weighty, societal problem.

child ripples

She went on to say that abortion was not a great solution to the dilemma of dealing with unwanted children. Yet, she came to the conclusion that society would still be better off without a surplus of such children.

Which begs the question: Why does she feel this way about human beings, yet not about the animals at her shelter? Why not eradicate the problem of unwanted animals, by eradicating the animal itself?

Rewind a few years back at a GAP display in Florida. I was speaking to a young man who also lamented the animal rights issue. He asked me if I ate meat.

“Yes, I do.” I replied.

He smiled, thinking he had me backed into a corner. “Then how can you be pro life?”

In response, I asked him to engage in a thought experiment which involved solving a moral dilemma. I asked him “If you were forced to choose between shooting a deer and your fellow man, which would you choose to kill?”

Silence.

Reluctantly, he admitted “The deer.”

Through his answer, he had shown that he sees that humans are different than animals; we have an inherently unique value that animals do not possess. This leads us to automatically give different rights and responsibilities to humans than we do to animals.

Comparing animal rights to human rights is like comparing apples to oranges. I’m pro-life and I eat meat. I’m pro human life and I believe meat provides nutrients for my human body, which sustains my human life.

What is interesting to note, is that the SPCA seeks to provide animals with a minimum five essential freedoms:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
  3. Freedom from distress
  4. Freedom from discomfort
  5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being

These are wonderful things to promote. However, I find it utterly bizarre that we as a society strive to provide animals with such freedoms, even punish those who violate these freedoms, when we take these away from preborn human beings.

Let’s focus on preserving our own species first, from the moment of conception. Let’s each play our small role in doing all we can to save these lives, knowing that even if a life is deemed by some as being ‘unwanted,’ killing innocent human beings is never the solution to eradicate these problems.

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Regret an abortion? You don’t have to be silent

Written by Denae Pellerin from University of Saskatchewan Students for Life

This post original appeared in their student newspaper, The Sheaf. Go to this link and show your support for Denae by responding to the poll at the bottom of the article!

In the midst of the “Shout Your Abortion” campaign, more attention is being drawn to women who don’t regret having an abortion. However, women should be free to talk about abortion, regardless of how they feel about it.

The hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion has recently been trending in response to a motion by the United States Congress to defund Planned Parenthood for one year in order to perform a thorough investigation of its services.

The bill was proposed due to ethical concerns raised in reaction to undercover footage, collected and released by the Centre for Medical Progress, showing Planned Parenthood directors and executives bargaining over the organs and bodies of aborted human fetuses.

“Shout Your Abortion” began with the intent of letting women speak about their relief and happiness in choosing abortion, while simultaneously supporting and defending Planned Parenthood, the United States’ largest abortion provider.

There is plenty of controversy surrounding the allegations against Planned Parenthood as well as the overall moral topic of abortion. However, in the middle of all the political activism and shouting, I cannot help but think of women who do not want to shout their abortions — women who regret their abortions.

The Sexual Health Centre in Saskatoon, previously Planned Parenthood Saskatoon, claims that abortion is less invasive than having one’s tonsils removed — so why would women be upset?

Even if the numbers are small, there are still women who experience pain, regret and guilt due to having had an abortion. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, we can all agree that a woman who regrets her abortion should not have to suffer in silence.

Her experience and feelings are real and they are not a mistake. Just as choosing an abortion can be complicated, the feelings after an abortion can be complicated as well. All women should be invited to speak about their abortion experience without fear.

Women in Canada already have begun to take initiatives to offer freedom to those suffering in silence after an abortion. Beginning in November of 2002, the Silent No More Awareness campaign began in the United States and has since spread to many other countries, including Canada.

Organized by women who have had abortions, they share their stories of confusion, relief, happiness and pain in an effort to reach out to those involved in abortions and in need of healing and empowerment. Their presence alone tells us it is okay to regret an abortion and that there is help.

Containing a wealth of resources, Silent No More is able to direct women to places near to them where they can receive assistance. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, approximately 38,350 abortions were experienced by women under the age of 29 in 2010.

IMG_5381
Students and NCLN staff with members of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign who publicly shared their abortion testimonies at UBC.

Many of our classmates have likely had personal experiences with abortions and should be granted the freedom to share or hold various opinions and stories. University is a time in our lives when we are encouraged to explore all sides of an issue and determine for ourselves what we will do.

However, as debates go on, we must not forget the people behind these issues. When only one idea or message is accepted on campus, we risk hurting those who do not conform to that idea. It’s important that women who regret their abortions are given the opportunity to be listened to without fear of being judged or labeled negatively.

Every woman is important and must be respected, whether or not her emotions promote a particular political stance. If you or a loved one is in need of care, do not hesitate to ask for help. You do not have to be silent — but you also don’t have to shout.

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