National Campus Life Network > Articles by: western





October 14, 2015. TORONTO, ON— Pro-life students at Ryerson University have filed a lawsuit against the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) over denying their club, Students for Life at Ryerson (SFLR), status.

On February 23rd, 2015, the RSU Board of Directors unanimously voted that SFLR would not be allowed to form a pro-life club. This vote marked the last step in an appeal process that began in the fall semester after SFLR was rejected by the Student Groups Committee on the basis that the RSU, “opposes…groups, meetings, or events that promote misogynist views towards woman [sic] and ideologies that promote gender inequity, challenges women’s right [sic] to bodily autonomy, or justifies [sic] sexual assault”.

“Our club stands for human rights for all human beings, including those at the earliest stages of life. We also want to support pregnant students on campus who want alternatives to abortion,” states Carter Grant, a third year business major and Vice-President of SFLR.

Pro-life students at Ryerson were first denied club status back in 2003.  Now students are taking the decision to court to assert their right to be treated fairly by their student union, and to not be discriminated against on the basis of their pro-life viewpoint.

What is happening at Ryerson is not an isolated event.  Pro-life students across the country have faced similar censorship at other institutions, including at the University of Victoria, University of Calgary, York University, Carleton University, Trent University, Lakehead University, and Capilano College.

As a strong advocate for freedom of expression, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) strongly opposes these acts of discrimination and is assisting the students with this case.  CCBR’s new legal department, CCBR Legal, has retained experienced constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson to defend the students.  Ms. Crosson says that, “pro-life students have been denied rights on campuses long enough.  This is the time to end this battle and enshrine students’ rights on campus.”

Through CCBR Legal, CCBR provides legal representation for those in the pro-life movement.  As history as shown, legal representation is an integral part of successful social movements.  The law protects the right for pro-life individuals to share their message on the same basis as others and CCBR Legal is determined to protect this right.

For more information, please contact Carol Crosson at 403-796-8110 or ccrosson@crossonlaw.ca, and Carter Grant at 647-213-4242 or carter.grant@ryerson.ca.


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Facing Smaug

Written by Joanna Krawczynski, NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator

On dealing with dragons of fear – and making it out alive.


Dear pro-life students,

It’s been a solid two weeks since we gathered in Toronto for the Symposium, and I’m back home, going through your evaluations of the weekend.

Many of you wrote that the Symposium quelled your fears, that you came with “tons of uncertainties and questions.” However, you commented that you left feeling “inspired and at peace,” and that “the NCLN Symposium took away all fears… about doing pro-life activism.”

A part of me wishes we could take the credit for your freedom from fear. And while it does take some courage to “whip and nae-nae” in front of strangers, I am sure our spectacular dance moves did not have that much of a far-reaching effect…

So, dear students,  you deserve credit. This was my first Symposium on staff, and throughout the weekend, your hearts of compassion and hands ready to take action were inspiring and motivating.

You remind me of one of my favorite furry-footed heroes (and no, this has nothing to do with the aesthetics of your feet). This past summer, I finally read Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I also watched the movies, and as much as I wanted to love them, I was disappointed, for they left out one of the best parts of the book: Bilbo’s greatest moment.

This moment has nothing to do with riddles or giant spiders. This is the moment when Bilbo is going down into the heart of a mountain through a tunnel that had mysteriously opened just moments before. The dwarves with whom Bilbo had been travelling wait at the door of the tunnel, sending him off down the dark passage alone. The only thing Bilbo and his companions know about the tunnel is that, at some point, the tunnel will end. And that at the other end lies a monster – a dragon named Smaug.

Bilbo enters the tunnel alone, then:

“A sound, too, began to throb in his ears, a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring. This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there in the red glow in front of him.


It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”

The cave / La cova (Ferran)
Photo credit: Ferran Jorda


While I wish with all my heart you didn’t have to deal with this anymore, the fears alleviated during the Symposium will still come back, in one way or another.

Sometimes it may seem like you are venturing into a dragon’s lair as you step out to engage someone in a conversation, as you meet with your student union, or as you set up for Choice Chain amidst angry hollers.

In times such as these, chew through this question instead of your fingernails, a question with which our former Executive Director, Rebecca Richmond, would challenge us with: is what is holding me back more important than the message I have to share?

I am convinced that these moments in which you press on, despite your fears, are true tests of your courage. Like in Bilbo’s experience.

My challenge to you as you journey this semester: lean on each other, depend on each other, and keep each other accountable. As much as they get good screen time, we are not dwarves, waiting at the back door, expecting a club member to venture into dark, uncharted territory alone. Loneliness is fertile ground for fear. And, as you have probably already noticed, you cannot use fear to dispel fear or to dismantle lies.

So, then, go together. Go together, to share a treasure that is much brighter, much more valuable than Smaug’s mountain of gold: friendship. Go together in peace: you have what it takes to not only face Smaug and make it out alive, but to also rescue lives from out of the flames.

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“Thank You”: Making these Two Words Count

Written by Joanna Krawczynski

This morning, I set out to prepare one of my favorite breakfast meals: granola and yogurt. We usually stick to plain yogurt at home, so I tend to add a dollop of maple syrup to make my morning meal even more delicious.

One problem: I forgot that we finished the maple syrup yesterday. I scoured the fridge, poked behind leftovers and jam jars – in vain.

This served as a reminder for me that I cannot give myself a treat if I do not first have something to give.

Okay, this sounds painfully obvious in a kitchen setting. However, if we apply this concept to our workplaces, street corners and even our homes, it is also clear that we miss the mark on many occasions, trying to give someone something that we do not have in the first place.

For example, earlier this week, I was commuting by bus. I don’t know if people are like this all across Canada, but most people in the Vancouver area thank the bus driver as they get off the bus. Some people yell so loud it can often sound as if they are angry. Others mutter a quick “thank you” under their breath. Still others accompany their message with words of best wishes.

We do this because this is what we were taught. Because this is recognized as the polite thing to do. However, I wonder – is this the honest thing to do?

Maybe that is why giving thanks, for some people, has become seen as cliché or cheesy. In a society where many give thanks, but few have genuine gratitude to begin with, it is no wonder that saying “thank you” can sometimes seem shallow. Saying these two words is often a mere gesture of politeness rather than a recognition of the unrepeatable gift of another person’s time.

To give thanks, we must first be truly thankful. Just like this morning, I could not sweeten my yogurt if I had no sweetener.

And we certainly have an abundance to be thankful for, even when the maple syrup runs dry or the turkey does not turn out right. We can be thankful for the sole fact that we have each other. Each person you meet this weekend (and beyond) is utterly unique, an unrepeatable life with immeasurable value.

When we say “thank you” for the gifts, time, or talent that we receive from others,  let us resolve to make these two words count by using this phrase not out of a desire to be polite, but out of sincere gratitude for the gift of immeasurable value and inherent dignity that is found in the life of the other.

students thankful
So, from all of our staff and board at NCLN, we want to extend a heart-felt thank you to our supporters and students; the gifts, time, and talent that you give to the Pro-Life Student Movement are truly helping us promote a culture of life in our country. We hope that you too can take the opportunity this weekend to give a sincere thank you to those around you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend!

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Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes

Written by Anastasia Pearse

Yesterday I went to a presentation by Wendy Davis, hosted by Simon Fraser University. Her presentation was entitled “Walking and Talking: Using your Feet and your Voice to Change the World.” Wendy is the former Texan Senator known for her 11 hour filibuster in 2013, where she attempted to block Senate Bill 5, which placed restrictions on abortions and higher standards on abortion clinics.

Wendy  highlighted how throughout history, injustices were fought by individuals who stood in others’ shoes. For example, it was a court of males who voted to give women the right to vote, and it was white men who gave black Americans equal rights. Victims so often depend on the feet and voices of others in order to have their rights fought for.

whos shoes are you walking in

I agree that in the face of injustice we must stand in the shoes of the victims. But why are we ignoring the 100,000 children who die each year in our country because of abortion? Why are we not walking in the shoes of these victims? Why  are we turning a blind eye to the children being denied their fundamental right to life because of their gender, or disability, or because they may be seen to be an inconvenience to their parents? Why are we allowing the euphemistic terms of women’s “choice” and “reproductive rights” to mask the reality that these women are in fact victimizing their children?

Wendy Davis, we cannot ignore the injustice of abortion and the victims it creates. For we see that abortion does not in fact empower women, but rather victimizes them and their children. It’s time that we walk in the shoes of these victims, and question abortion.

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Recap: 2015 NCLN Symposium: Without Exception

Written by Anastasia Pearse, Executive Director

Words cannot express how grateful we are to all the students who joined us over the weekend for our Annual Symposium! We are so incredibly impressed with your energy, enthusiasm, conviction, and commitment to speaking up about this injustice in our country, without exception. Wear your t-shirts with pride and keep the momentum up from the weekend! Know that your passion is contagious, and necessary in order to sustain the Pro-Life Student Movement on our campuses!

For those who could not attend the symposium, below are some highlights from our speakers!


Without Exception: Anastasia Pearse
  • As pro-lifers we know that there are no exceptions when it comes to saving innocent human beings.
  • There are no exceptions when it comes to showing love to all human beings.
  • We must be willing to live a pro-life lifestyle, without exception.
  • As pro-life students on your campus you are: present, you are peers, and therefore you are powerful.


Talking to the Victims of the Sexual Revolution: Jonathon VanMaren
  • We need to understand the culture around us to most effectively reach them with the pro-life message
  • We are talking to a culture of that sees human beings as a commodity.
  • What does pornography have to do with abortion? It perpetuates the idea that humans can be used.  Objectification of humans leads to dehumanization, which leads to victimization. We have a society whose acts have lead to commodification of the human body.
Talking to Those Who are Ignorant: Josh Canning
  • Three keys to speaking to the ignorant:
    1. Show compassion for their concerns about abortion. Usually a person’s good intentions are involved.
    2. Tell stories. It allows you to empathize together about the persons involved in the story.
    3. Ask questions – get to know their opinion and what they do know.
  • We must develop a heart that is as big as that of those we talk to, but then bigger.
Talking to Those Who are Complacent and Apathetic: Daniel Gilman
  • If we’re complacent we’re empowering a system that slaughters babies.
  • Being pro-life is not a charitable cause. It is an emergency.
  • We need to show the complacent the hope found in action.
  • Give them immediate opportunities to take action!
  • The only reason we’ve had horrific genocides is because good people are doing nothing to stop it.
Effective Conversations: How to Win Hearts and Rescue Children from Abortion: Devorah Gilman, CCBR
  • 3 Goals in pro-life conversations: understand, love & inspire.
  • We live in a society where parents are legally responsible for the ordinary care of their children. What about the preborn?
  • Truth without love is ineffective. And love without truth is a lie.
  • Ask 4 questions to show that abortion is a human rights violation in any conversation:
    1. Do you believe in human rights? Who gets human rights?
    2. If two human beings reproduce, what will their offspring be?
    3. If something is growing, isn’t it alive?
    4. Doesn’t it logically follow that abortion is a human rights violation because it kills an innocent human?
  • In any difficult circumstance thought to justify abortion, the person you’re speaking to needs to know you care.
  • Steps to effective conversations:
    1. Find common ground.
    2. Use analogies
    3. Ask questions.
  • We must learn to show the truth rather than tell. Show, don’t tell.
Recruiting Your Team: Anastasia Pearse, NCLN
  • Successful recruitment is the result of effective outreach and sustained relationships.
  • Who are two people you can think of right now that you can make a prolife impact on?
  • Too often we focus on impacting “society”, rather than those around us. One person at a time, we can change the world.
  • Avoid the exhausting event syndrome and keep it simple! REV up your campus with Regular, Engaging and Visible activism!
Leading Yourself: Rebecca Richmond, NCLN
  • The only cure for a selfish culture is a culture of selfless individuals.
  • Is what is holding us back from doing activism more important than the message we are trying to share?
  • Your club is more than weekly meetings and activities. Your club is a movement.
Euthanasia: The Key Issues and Argument: Fr. Kevin Belgrave, St. Augustine’s Seminary
  • The ultimate solution to euthanasia is a renewal of relationship between us and those who are suffering.
  • Euthanasia isn’t about killing pain, – doctors already do that – it’s about killing patients.
  • Euthanasia creates a “duty to die” – people feel coerced to choose to die to let their family carry on.
  • When suffering people want to die because they feel they are a burden, that is a sign that we are not doing enough to support them.
Top 10 Ways to Sustain  Yourself and  Your Team: Clay Imoo, Archdiocese of Vancouver
  • Sustaining yourself and your team is vital for long-term success, avoiding burnout, and growth
  • Give your team members some TLC: Training, Leadership, and Care.
  • Who we are communicates far more eloquently than what we say or do.
  • Ways to keep your team members: build relationships, meet regularly, know what motivates them! Let them know they are making a difference
  • Ways to keep your team members: affirm them, give them a variety of responsibilities, encourage risks, encourage them to grow.
  • Relationships are vital to your ministry. Make them a priority!
  • Clarify expectations: what do you expect from your team? What do they expect from you?


To see more photos from the Symposium, visit our National Campus Life Network facebook page!
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Resolve to Reach Out

On butterflies, duffel bags, and the end of info tables

Written by Joanna Krawczynski


Okay, I’ll admit it: the idea of campus outreach, like clipboarding and tabling, does get my heart beating a faster out of excitement for these opportunities to reach my peers with the message of life.

Actually doing campus outreach… to be honest, that can get my heart beating for a different reason, racing with the cold determination of nervousness that makes me feel faint. Or nauseous. Or a combination of the two. Either way, I know I’m not the only one (feel free to sing along). However, I also know that if I do not give myself a swift kick in the pants and stop dwelling on worst-case scenarios, I will spend the rest of the afternoon hiding behind my info table or clipboard. And my campus will be poorer because of it.

Rewind a couple months.

It was my first time clipboarding – and we were downtown Vancouver. I was being ignored, misunderstood, turned away, and the courage I thought I had was steadily dwindling. Almost by accident, I walked into the conversation of two tradesmen from Quebec.Your shadows talk while you listenBoth carried grungy-looking duffel bags and wore wrinkled clothes as well as unshaven, though genuine, smiles. The eyes of the younger fellow lit up more often than his cigarette as he talked. The other fellow seemed old enough to be the father of the younger man. The older man’s deep, browned wrinkles told a part of his story that he did not seem ready to share then. His was a fatherly tone, though he was adamant that a woman should be able to abort her child if she will be unable to care for the child after birth. After about a half hour of conversation, I had to run to catch up with my clipboarding crew. But before I left the conversation, the younger fellow stopped me.

“Can I show you something?” he asked. “I want to show you a photo of my son.”

The man’s pride for this little one was unmistakable as he pulled out a school photo of his smiling seven year old, looking smart and bright-eyed. My heart just about melted. The young man shared that he was here on the other side of the country for this little guy, catching jobs to make their ends meet. I went home feeling helpless, torn between feelings of joy for the younger man’s determination to support his son, and sadness for the stubborn resolution of the older man, whose comments conveyed the perspective that children without caring parents are better off eliminated. To follow this logic is to say that it is a greater tragedy to be unwanted and alive, than to be unwanted – and killed. Fast forward about a month and a half. I’m just getting the hang of Vancouver’s transportation system, catching the skytrain home after a day of campus activism. My head is buzzing, trying to debrief the day’s conversations as well as make sure that I get on the right train. As I slide onto the train and carve out a place to stand, the smell of cigarettes makes me catch my breath. There is a pile of beaten-up bags at the feet of a fellow passenger. I lift my eyes, piecing together the baggy pants, layers of clothing, and a salt-and-pepper scruff crowning the unshaven face of a man with deep, browned wrinkles. “Bonjour, Monsieur…!” I greet the familiar face with astonishment.

His eyes wrinkle around the edges as he smiles back, “I did not think that you would recognize me.”

Of course I recognized him, though I was definitely not expecting to see this man, the older tradesman from that afternoon of clipboarding, ever again. The man shared how he was heading back to Montreal after traveling all across Canada for work. The man then paused, motioning to his bags,

“You know, I’ve been here in Vancouver, on the streets. No home or apartment. My sleeping bag is in there.”

SW 3rd Avenue
The duffel bag lay sprawled at his feet. The man glanced back at me and continued, “You know, my kids, I’ve got five of them. My kids, they are all grown up and established. I gave them all I could. Now it is time for me to live my life.”

Hold on. Where are his children now, and why don’t they seem to care that their father is living on the streets? My heart ached as this man shared the story his wrinkles betray.

How did I not see this earlier? His earlier assertion that an unwanted life is better off destroyed came from a deeply personal place, a place beaten up and worn like the baggage at his feet.

I wanted to do something to help this man, to show him his worth, but the best I could do was to learn his name, shake his hand, and wish him well, as we both had another train to catch.

Reflecting on this, I realize that we have an incredible opportunity as pro-life leaders. We have peers who also carry around with them that heavy feeling of being unwanted. Like the student who was abandoned by his father when his mother decided to give him life. Or the girl whose parents remind her daily that she is not the boy they wanted.

But how can we help our peers to see the value of their lives, if we let the butterflies in our stomachs keep us from reaching out to initiate a conversation?

Okay, granted – maybe they don’t have time for a conversation. Are we doing any harm by wishing them a good day?

Brochures and pamphlets are helpful resources to have on hand, and an info table can be an effective background tool,

but there is a reason why we work with student leaders, not printing machines.

In our activism, let us resolve to reach out and, in doing so, touch the heart of another. We have the opportunity – indeed, the responsibility – to encourage our peers to recognize the value of their own lives, to be voices declaring the profound truth that every life is wanted.

Without exception.
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And so begins another year!

WELCOME BACK to another year of school! We wish all students the best as you start another semester of reaching and engaging the culture.

In light of this year’s Symposium theme, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, we want to challenge you to live out a pro-life lifestyle, without exception.

Sometimes exceptions creep in when it comes to our own pro-life activism. How many times have we put conditions on when or where or how we participate in pro-life activities? Whether this means taking part in pro-life outreach, attending a pro-life event or meeting, talking to friends, family, or colleagues about the issue, or donating to a pro-life group or initiative – all too often we act as pro-lifers, except when it does not fit into our schedules or comfort zone. We want to challenge you to be pro-life – without exception.

no exceptions 6

To help you, our NCLN Symposium will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to defend the lives of pre-born children, in spite of the exceptions people may pose to you, or the exceptions you may create yourself. We hope to see you or a representative from your club at our Symposium!



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Mind Matters, Love Conquers

Written by Ashley Bulthuis, NCLN Summer Intern

Last week NCLN and Advokate joined efforts to co-host our final BC Summer Semester event: training in how to engage others in open, loving conversation, followed  by Clipboarding combined with Student Life Chain. Through our combined efforts, over 40 participants were able to lovingly share the pro-life message with the local community in Abbotsford, showing them that every life is worth living.

Youth from the Gospel Roads Retreat

Our volunteers were primarily composed of high school students in grades 10-12. Most of them were decked out in purple shirts, with the name of their affiliate organization, Gospel Roads, plastered on their backs. These youth joined our event as part of their social justice retreat; the retreat was geared towards helping high school students serve their local community while raising awareness about various social injustices. The students were excited for the opportunity to put their passion for social justice into action as they showed the Abbotsford community that pre-born humans have rights as well!

“Whom you would change, you must first love. And they must know that you love them.”

To help prepare the youth for engaging the community, Joanna, NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator, presented about the need to speak out in truth and love, sharing the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Whom you would change, you must first love. And they must know that you love them.”  She shared personal stories of how conveying the pro-life message with a loving, gentle approach is the most effective way to engage our culture. She provided tangible ways the students could put their passion and convictions into action, encouraging them to do all they can to share the truth. As St. Augustine of Hippo said “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”

Students participating in the Life Chain part of the event

The participants then spent a fruitful hour of activism on the street. Most held Life Chain signs, conveying the messages that “Abortion Hurts Women” and “You’ll never regret loving this much.” Those who more directly engaged passersby through clipboarding carried themselves with great compassion, empathy and courage; they listened patiently to those they were conversing with and responded in a gentle, loving manner, acting as great ambassadors of the message of truth and love. Their enthusiasm bubbled over from their wide smiles and shining eyes and their joy was contagious.

Clipboarders ready for action!

After the event, every single participant enthusiastically said that they would do this again. Educating our minds with pro-life arguments matters, but ultimately, it is love that wins people over.  In the words of Maya Angelou,

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Photo credit: Fr. Jim Zettel, SDB

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