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

NCLN Welcomes Three New Team Members!

NCLN is excited to welcome three new staff to our NCLN Team! There is a growing need for dedicated pro-life leaders on campuses across Canada, and NCLN is here to bring these leaders the mentorship, training, and resources they need to succeed. With our new team members, we plan to serve students even more effectively so they can grow as leaders and share our life-saving, life-affirming message with their peers on campus! Join us as we welcome Josh, Michelle, and Ruth!

You can help support Josh, Michelle and Ruth by joining their support team. Your financial contributions will enable our NCLN Team to continue to build and mobilize the Pro-Life Student Movement as we invest in young pro-life leaders! Click here to donate!

Josh MacMillan

Josh MacMillan

Central Campus Coordinator

My name is Josh MacMillan and I've studied history at the University of Waterloo. Throughout my academic career I was involved in my local pro-life club, and was able to see and experience firsthand not only the many challenges that pro-life students have to face on a regular basis, but also the positive effects that these students can have on their peers and campus culture. As a student, my team and I were supported immensely by NCLN, and now, as a graduating student, I want to return that favour as an NCLN staff member. I look forward to the opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences as a member of a team dedicated to empowering students to enact positive change in schools and communities across Canada.

Michelle Caluag

Michelle Caluag

Central Campus Coordinator

I’m Michelle, a graduating student at UofT with Bachelors of Science degree. Yes, I’m a Science nerd! I was also the president of U of T Students for Life for the past two years. My experience with the club is one of the highlights of my undergrad years. Other than Science, I also love hanging out with my five siblings, eating seafood and playing with babies! I would love to share my story to inspire and help other students not only to become pro-life, but more importantly to become active pro-lifers.

Ruth Shaw

Ruth Shaw

Communications Director

My name is Ruth Shaw. I am 28 years old and a mother of three (one born, one pre-born, one in heaven)! I’m excited to be joining the NCLN team as the new Communications Director. I have been involved in pro-life work since 2006, most recently as the Director and Founder of Ottawa Against Abortion. Since passing the torch on, I am so excited to be part of a growing organization that is dedicated to promoting and assisting students in having a dedicated and effective pro-life presence on campus. NCLN was a support to me during my time as a Carleton student, and as such, I’m honoured to be part of a movement that gives so much to students, and wants to change the world campus by campus.

We are so excited to have these three leaders join our team to support our students! Please consider joining their support team by clicking here!

A Few Questions, A Great Hope

By Maria McCann
VP Events of Western Lifeline

“Hi there, do you have a minute for a few questions?”

I have lost count of the number of times I have asked this question since November 2015, when Western Lifeline began running weekly sessions of NCLN’s Question Abortion (QA) Project.

At our first QA Project session, I remember the question of one of my friends: “Is anyone else super nervous?” As a university pro-life club, Western Lifeline had held outreach tables before to advertise for events, but we did not usually engage so directly with students on the issue of abortion in Canada. Though we were timid at first, we quickly discovered that the survey was an excellent way to engage with students. The QA Project was so successful at our school because it presented a positive challenge: it challenged our pro-choice peers to question their beliefs, and it challenged our club members to grow as pro-life advocates.

The QA Project lives up to its name – it truly encourages students to question their views on abortion. We talked to so many people who simply did not know about the legal vacuum regarding abortion, and many expressed shock that abortions at 9 months of pregnancy were legal in Canada. When we engaged them further on whether they believed in human rights for all human beings, the transformations were amazing. Here are some of the things we heard from students during our conversations:

  • After answering questions about human rights and seeing an image of an abortion victim, a student went from accepting early abortions to agreeing that abortion was never OK and was “so cruel”. Regarding the image of the abortion victim, she said, “We need to be showing this in the media.”
  • After learning about how the life of a human being begins at fertilization, a woman who had been pro-choice said, “I think you’ve changed my mind on this.”
  • One young man initially said that he did not believe in any restrictions on abortion. After talking about human rights, he changed his position to only supporting abortion in the “hard cases”, such as when a woman became pregnant due to rape. After we discussed those difficult situations and we agreed that we can never intentionally kill an innocent human being, he agreed that abortion was never justifiable. He said he would step up and be a father if his partner became pregnant unexpectedly.

Some people could only chat with us for a minute or two. However, even in those brief encounters, we were able to make “pro-life progress” with those individuals. For instance, I had a short conversation with a friend who could not stay long. After discussing human rights with him and showing him an image of an abortion victim, I asked him when it would be justifiable to kill a pre-born child. He replied, “I came into this conversation believing in a wide set of circumstances [where abortion was permissible]… By the end of this conversation, that set of circumstances has definitely narrowed.”

The QA Project also gave our club members the opportunity to grow as pro-life advocates. During our 148 conversations, we sharpened our apologetics skills while also learning how to respond compassionately to students who were in many different situations. I was so proud to see my friends develop courage and confidence after just one or two sessions of QA. If someone asked us a question that we did not know how to answer, we were motivated to learn the answer. As a club, in our bi-weekly educational meetings, we would then regularly include tips on how to incorporate our new pro-life knowledge into our QA conversations.

The NCLN staff encouraged us to do activism for just an hour or two each week in order to prevent burnout. We found this much more effective (and much less tiring) than a typical 5 or 6 hours at an outreach table. The debrief at the end of each QA session was particularly helpful for supporting club members. We were able to celebrate our successes when conversations went really well, but we were also able to encourage each other when one of us had a challenging conversation.

Although Western Lifeline’s activities are wrapping up as our school year ends, I am really looking forward to doing the QA Project again in the fall with my friends. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the Culture of Death that seems to have saturated Canadian society, I draw great hope from the knowledge that my campus is a little bit more pro-life after every hour of QA that we do. I can already feel myself itching to ask someone…

“Hi there, do you have a minute for a few questions?”

——————————————————————————————————————————

You can visit Western Lifeline on Facebook.
Learn more about the QA Project and how to bring it to your school or campus at ncln.ca/outreach/QAProject


Why I Love the QA Project

 

By Meagan Nijenhuis
President of U of Guelph Life Choice

The prof wraps up the last slide in my Clinical Biomechanics class at 11:20 and I’m off. I have an hour and a half gap between classes today to do pro-life activism, so I book it across campus to the building where our club locker is, dashing up one flight of stairs, then another, grabbing the bag full of clipboards and resources, and I’m off again. It’s 11:30 and my club members are waiting at our meeting spot. Despite being a week full of midterms (what week isn’t?), there are still 4 dedicated members out!

Why are these students giving up an hour of their time between classes and midterms? Because they, along with myself, see that the QA Project is making an impact at Guelph. We’re able to do it almost every week because it’s easy, it requires minimal planning, it provides dialogue practice to our members AND it’s increasing our club membership.

I know that many pro-life club exec members across the country are running on empty. A 12 week semester is short and many of those weeks are loaded with midterms and assignments. To have a team alongside you makes things 10,000 times easier. To have a larger team also means that you can train people to do the jobs you do. Other people can learn how to lead the QA project so if you have a midterm that day, activism can go on. Hearts and minds can continue to be changed.

But how in the world do you grow that team? I know from experience that you don’t grow your team sitting in your meeting once a week with your members. I’ve tried that, maybe with a tabling session and a couple guest speakers thrown in the mix. But your club members won’t feel equipped at tabling if they haven’t practiced. You may have given them all the tools, but it’s like putting your winter tires on without driving in the snow: you can’t be sure you can do it until you’ve done it yourself a couple times. So it ends up being you and a few of your exec. You can’t do that all the time, so you’re out even less. But that’s the biggest problem! You need to be visible on campus. You need to get out there. You need to let people know that there are pro-lifers on their campus.

Every time I wrap up a session of QA, I’ve got epinephrine pumping through my arteries! I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I HAVE to text Clarissa or Alex with the great news! We had so many great conversations! And we also got a couple more SIGN UPS!

And when sign ups get involved, they fuel your club. Some of our most active members, signed up this semester when our club was made visible, whether that was at the Club Day table or the flag display. And at our bake sale, we had a new member come to help out – a student who had signed up during the QA Project! Why are the newest members the most active? We give them the ability to practice their apologetics almost every week because of our weekly activism. They’re seeing the discussion opened up on campus. They’re seeing hearts and minds changed.  They have an opportunity to get involved.

The QA Project is my kind of effective.

——————————————————————————————————————————

Visit U of G Life Choice on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.
Learn more about the QA Project and how to bring it to your school or campus at ncln.ca/outreach/QAProject

 

NCLN Condemns Assault on Pro-Life Student, Grateful for Her Safety

bench meme 3

A campus pro-life student was assaulted earlier this week while walking home from campus, but thankfully escaped unharmed.  The male assailant concealed his face and pushed her against a fence, threatening her saying, “Would you still be anti-choice if YOU had to make the choice?” The student hit her attacker and ran. She reported the incident right away to campus and local authorities.

Although still in shock, the student is doing well. Two days after the incident, she joined her club members in doing pro-life outreach on campus. She shared with our staff: “This is the work I’ve been called to do. I’m not going to let some politically-charged moron scare me off.”

National Campus Life Network’s staff has worked closely with this student throughout the school year and will continue to ensure that she feels safe and supported. We are profoundly grateful that she was unharmed. In our organization’s experience, this is the first time such an incident has occurred. NCLN will continue to stress its safety policies, including doing campus activism in a group setting.

“NCLN is disgusted and appalled by the contemptible behaviour of this man,” states Anastasia Pearse, NCLN’s Executive Director.  “Women should not be threatened in any way, shape or form because of the opinion they peacefully and respectfully address on campus. If this man believes in women’s rights, why is he threatening hers? No student should ever have to experience this.”

The Pro-Life Student Movement continues to work in solidarity to bring the pro-life message to Canadian campuses. The male assailant’s actions truly demonstrate how the message needs to be shared all the more persistently.  Pro-life students are witnessing to a broken, wounded culture, defending not only the value and dignity of pre-born children, but of their peers as well. We may never know exactly why this man reacted out of anger and with violence, but he is a reminder of our duty to share the truth with love and mercy, so that he and others like him may be given the opportunity to heal from their wounds.

We encourage students and supporters to pray for everyone involved. The pro-life student’s relentless courage to defend pre-born children and support women in crisis is an inspiration to the NCLN team.

NCLN is hiring!

University campuses are in dire need of the pro-life message. Pro-Life students on these campuses need support and mentorship as they seek to bring this message to a hostile culture.

Are you willing to serve alongside these students as they seek to change hearts and minds?

NCLN is accepting applications for our Summer Internship Program, based out of our Langley and Toronto offices! If you’re a post-secondary student who is passionate about bringing the pro-life message to your campus and eager to grow as a leader, this opportunity is for you!

NCLN Internship details and application.

We are also hiring a new Campus Coordinator to join us in our Toronto office. If you’re interested in an exciting, challenging and fulfilling career that is dedicated to ending abortion and upholding the value of all human life, from conception to natural death, please consider the difference you could make through a position with NCLN!

Campus Coordinator details and application.

Application deadlines: March 15th.

For more information, contact Anastasia Pearse.

Free speech at stake in court application against Oshawa student union

NCLN staff with members of SFTW.
NCLN staff with members of SFTW.

Speak for the Weak (SFTW), a pro-life club at UOIT and Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario, is being denied club status for their views on abortion. A lawsuit has been filed, with representation from the Justice Centre for Constitutional freedoms. National Campus Life Network has been supportive of SFTW through this ordeal and greatly admire their ongoing courage and dedication in defending their rights as students, as well as the rights of the most vulnerable.  Our staff will continue to support these students in their fight against their Student Association, who surely has the obligation to treat students fairly – even those with viewpoints differing from their own.

Check out the club’s website at sftw.ncln.ca

 


 

From the Justice Centre of Constitutional Freedoms:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Free speech at stake in court application against Oshawa student union

OSHAWA: The Justice Centre has filed a court applicationagainst the Student Association at Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology (“Student Association”) to defend the free speech rights and freedom of association of a pro-life student group.  This follows a week after a similar court application was filed against the University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union, which also denied registered club status to a campus group over its stance on abortion.

The Student Association has refused to grant club recognition to Speak for the Weak because of its stance on abortion.  The Student Association claims that allowing a pro-life club on campus would constitute “systemic societal oppression”, and would violate “human rights”.  The Student Association further claims that only clubs which support abortion are “equity-seeking” and therefore allowed on campus.

Speak for the Weak’s application for club status was denied in September 2015.  The students spent most of the fall semester unsuccessfully attempting to appeal the decision to the Student Association’s Board of Directors. Without club status, student groups cannot gain access to Student Association space and resources, making it very difficult to conduct activities and engage with the student body.

In its court application, Speak for the Weak argues that the Student Association violates its own policies and rules, fails to follow the principles of natural justice, bases its decision on irrelevant considerations, and fails to respect students’ freedoms of expression and association.

“As students at a public college and university, we are disappointed that the Student Association refuses to treat us like other student groups.  Even though it recognizes campus clubs are an integral part of student life, the Student Association has chosen to exclude us from having an official campus club simply because it disagrees with our views,” said Christian Naggar, president of Speak for the Weak.

“The actions of the Student Association against this student group amount to discrimination and a complete disregard for free expression on campus,” stated Marty Moore, staff lawyer with the Justice Centre.

For more information, please contact:
 
Christian Naggar, President, Speak for the Weak
416-455-3921 or cjnaggar@gmail.com

Marty Moore, Staff Lawyer, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
587-998-1806 or mmoore@jccf.ca

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

#253, 7620 Elbow Drive SW Calgary, Alberta, T2V 1K2  

JCCF.ca

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