Vancouver, B.C. On Tuesday October 28th, SFU Lifeline will be hosting a debate on the legality of abortion, organized by university students who cite Justin Trudeau‘s abortion comments as a motivating factor for the events.
“We actually wanted and invited Mr. Trudeau to participate in the debates,” stated Emily Mraz, a third year student at Simon Fraser University and president of the pro-life club, SFU Lifeline. “He has made strong statements about a woman’s ‘right to choose.’ Seeing as the university is considered to be a marketplace of ideas, we believe it is an appropriate venue for him to defend his position and engage in discussion on the issue.” Unfortunately Mr. Trudeau’s secretary stated that he was not available to participate.
Mr. Trudeau has stated that abortion is “not for any government to legislate.” Pro-Life students on university campuses beg to differ, citing it as the government’s duty to protect all human beings in Canada, including the 300 pre-born humans who are killed every day in our Country through abortion.
Stephanie Gray, an international pro-life speaker and author, will be representing the position that there should be laws against abortion – countering Trudeau’s claim that the government should have nothing to do with abortion; this follows her statement that abortion is a violation of the human rights of pre-born human beings. Umer Altaf, president of the SFU Debate Society, will be representing the position that there should not be laws against abortion, defending abortion as a woman’s choice.
“Our universities are places where ideas should be shared and contentious issues discussed,” states Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization. “The most recent CIHI stats reveals that over a quarter of abortions are performed on university–aged students. If this is a choice young women are making, it is important that they consider what precisely they are choosing and know what abortion alternatives exist.”
The debate will be held at SFU Burnaby on Tuesday, October 28th at 5:30pm in C9001.
THEFT AND VANDALISM AGAINST PRO-LIFERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA
Victoria, B.C. (September 11, 2014): On September 10th, two women rushed a pro-life club table at the University of Victoria, snatching the fetal models on display and dumping used cat litter all over the table. Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) was participating in the university’s Clubs Days event and had a recruitment table to sign up new members and engage with other students on the pro-life issues.
Although the fetal models were recovered, club members arrived back this morning to find that the vandals had broken into the closed clubs room and that more filthy litter had been dumped on the table and the fetal models – valued at several hundred dollars – had been stolen.
“This kind of behaviour calls into question whether UVic is an environment where people can express their opinions and beliefs without such disrespectful opposition,” stated Adrian Canagasuriam, co-president of the club. “Other clubs and the student body need to be reminded that this kind of criminal behaviour has no place on a Canadian university campus.”
After speaking with campus security, club members made a police report with local authorities.
The club demanded that the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) formally condemn the actions of the vandals, and the UVSS has agreed to issue a statement doing so.
“In previous years the UVSS has attempted to ban and censure the club and was sued by the club in 2010,” stated Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network, a national organization that supports pro-life students. “It’s reassuring to see that student society representatives were helpful and apologetic in the wake of this incident and we look forward to a strong statement from the UVSS condemning this theft and vandalism.”
“This incident has not prevented us from continuing our outreach,” commented Kimberley Van Der Pijl, who witnessed yesterday’s attack and serves as co-president of the club. “We’ve had very positive conversations with so many students and many have signed up for the club.”
The members of YPY hope that the fetal models will be recovered, and that students who disagree with their message will learn to voice their disagreement in a mature, respectful manner.
For additional information or comments, please contact:
Western Campus Coordinator, National Campus Life Network, email@example.com 604-365-3484 (tel: 604-365-3484)
“It’s been a challenging few weeks,” said Mary to me when I had visited her high school this past school year. She had stumbled upon NCLN’s website because she was looking for support and resources to start a pro-life club. We had been in touch over the last few months, and in January, the club was approved.
“Friends who were supportive of the club at first backed away when we they realized we as a club were very much anti-abortion in all circumstances,” she continued. “I mean, we’re still friends, but it’s not the same. Something in the way we have talked has changed.”
I am sure those of us involved in the pro-life movepment have experienced some variation of this. I am also certain that many people out there that want to do more for preborn children are fearful of these kinds of changes. I used to ask myself these questions all the time: What will my friends think of me? How do I make them understand how important this is to me? How do I express my thoughts in a way they’ll understand?
Before I could reply, ready to share my own thoughts and experiences, Mary added cheerfully: “It’s okay though. I know it’s worth it.”
Mary has realized what I wish I had realized sooner: with 100,000 babies in the womb being killed every year in our country and countless more men and women hurt by abortion the changes in our personal relationships, whether temporary or permanent, often pale in comparison.
Though I still get nervous telling people I first meet about my work, I am reminded that they may never hear about the pro-life issue and the destruction abortion brings if I don’t talk about it. When family members ask how my work is going, I share the challenges and the hope it brings to my life with joy. When someone asks me with concern, “Do you really think you can change the culture and end abortion?” I think about the people whose lives have been changed for the better by the pro-life student leaders I serve, my incredible colleagues, and the pro-life movement at large, and answer with a resounding “Yes”.
Do we wish more people understood? Definitely. Do we want people to like us? Sure. Should setbacks and sacrifices in our relationships hinder us from sharing the truth?
(To those whose lives are impacted regularly by the joys and challenges that come with my own full-time pro-life work, and to the friends and family who may at times be at odds with what I do but still bless me with their support and their time, this post was written with you in mind, in immense gratitude. A special thanks to Mary as well for the inspiration she has been to me in her great resolve and courage to bring the pro-life message to her high school – which she has done quite successfully!)
No matter the size of your campus or of your pro-life club, recruiting, retaining and engaging your members remains a critical part of a vibrant and effective pro-life campus group. It is, after all, through the efforts of members that clubs are able to reach their campuses: at events, on the sidewalks, at the club fairs, in the classrooms and in extracurriculars.
The staff of NCLN are available to offer training to help with recruitment as well as to regularly mentor club leaders to improve their membership engagement, but sometimes the best way to learn is from the example of other clubs. We’ve seen Guelph Life Choice dramatically improve their membership engagement and development of club leaders over the past months and we asked Celine Mammoliti, president, and Meagan Nijenhuis, vice-president, to share how they went about this.
This post also marks the start of a series that highlights the efforts, strategies and accomplishments of clubs across Canada. If there is something your club might like to share with the Pro-Life Student Movement of Canada, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: On our first campus visit, you both seemed quite disheartened in terms of membership engagement. We’ve seen so much energy since. What changed?
Meagan:We got a lot of engagement at the Club Days booth [at the beginning of September]. From there we found a meeting time that worked for the majority and stuck to the same room and time every week. Then Celine sent out a weekly newsletter which included a reminder and I texted everyone the day of. [At meetings] Celine would do an educational Prezi [presentation] and we’d hash out what was coming up as well as have some incredible discussions! When we did special events we did different times so members who can’t always make it could help out there!
Celine:Gaining new members and seeing how great they are always helps! We have a great team of people and they are all wonderful. Having these people around really helps when you feel isolated on campus, which can happen very easily. It also gives us hope for the future of the club. Also, having NCLN there really helps keep us going when we’re struggling.
Q: Sometimes people feel that they either need to be focusing on recruiting and forming their members OR outreach, as if they should be happening separately. Your club has brought them together. Why is that?
Meagan: You need people to be practicing their apologetics as they learn. It’s like Confucius says, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” There’s always more our club members can be learning! We can continue to grow as we reach out and teach our campus WHY the fetus is a human and why humans have value. We can’t let the semesters slip by without at least giving our fellow students some access to the truth.
Celine: I would say that it’s always more effective to do both, because that is the real meaning of community. We want to show not only our members, but also other students that we care about building community, and that involves both building up your current members and reaching out to others. People are more likely to have a positive view of the group if they can feel a sense of community.
Note: Putting into practice (outreach) what your members are learning is key.
Q: What would you say were the three most important things that you did to help increase
your membership AND your outreach?
1) Our weekly Prezi presentations;
2) Chalking in heavy traffic areas on campus;
3) And getting to know our members and keeping in contact with them through the week.
1) One thing we did, which we learned from NCLN, was to be persistent and keep in touch with members personally. It makes a huge difference to them, and it only takes a few moments to do.
2) Another thing is to focus on the efforts of our members, and continue to encourage them. It’s important to acknowledge every single contribution, no matter how big or small.
3) Thirdly, we’ve been working on our communications with other university groups so that we can build a positive image on campus. What is most important about this is to meet with people face to face, and build connections. By doing this, we can reduce fear and assumptions about our club, and be more productive.
Q: What main piece of advice would you like to share with other pro-life groups across Canada?
Meagan: Get to know your members! They’ll feel more involved in the club and be more likely to help you out with events.
Celine: Hang in there! Sometimes it is really hard to be part of such a controversial movement, but in the end it will be worth it. Stick together, work hard, and have fun. And never forget that you’re not alone in this!
Keep up the awesome work, Guelph Life Choice! We can’t wait to see what this new semester brings!
By Clarissa Luluquisin, NCLN Central Campus Coordinator
The first week of the new semester was a literal and figurative ‘banner week’ for Youth Protecting Youth, the pro-life student club at York University (Toronto). The club started their outreach by placing a banner in one of the most central areas on campus. Hand-painted with an image of a pre-born child and the message, “Abortion kills a human life”, this banner was approved for display by one of the governing bodies for campus clubs.
The banner was torn down on the first night, but found intact in a nearby recycling bin. It was torn down a second time in the week and, again, the perpetrators attempted to recycle the large banner.
After rescuing their banner for the second time, the club plans to reinforce the banner to make its removal more difficult. They are also pursuing the vandalism by requesting access to the video feed of the hall. “We aren’t discouraged,” wrote a club leader on Facebook, “and no one can silence our voice!”
As pro-lifers, our message, regardless of how many times it may get “crumpled” by someone who disagrees, remains intact. This is the nature of the truth.
If you are on campus and are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps feeling a bit like the club banner, know that NCLN is here to help smooth things over. We are here to serve you and support your efforts to make your voices heard!
Have stories from your Clubs Days or other activities this semester? Be sure to share them with your NCLN staff member!
MOTION TO BAN UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA PRO-LIFE CLUB DEFEATED BUT CONCERNS REGARDING FUTURE CENSORSHIP REMAIN
WINNIPEG, MB (October 9 2013) – On the evening of October 7th, the University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life (UMSCL) were glad to witness the defeat of a motion calling for the revocation of their club status. However, they are continuing to express concern about two other motions passed by the University of Manitoba Student Union (UMSU).
“We were encouraged to hear members of the council defend free speech on campus and see the motion to revoke our student group status defeated soundly,” states Cara Ginter, vice-president of UMSCL. “Unfortunately, two other motions were passed that could be used to censor our student group and others in the future.”
The first motion was put forward by two students as a response to a pro-life display hosted by the club September 23-25. This display, called the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), uses large posters with pictures of aborted fetuses and victims of historical genocides to argue that abortion is a human rights violation. Council members, including Nursing, Law, and Education representatives, spoke against the motion and it was ultimately defeated.
Two other motions were also presented by the council’s Student Group Promotions and Affairs Committee (SGPAC), which express concern over the content of the display and resolving that (1) the council meet with the university administration “to push for a reconsideration of the review and approval process for public displays” and (2) that the policies governing the penalization of clubs and revocation of club status be reviewed and clarified.
“We applaud the student union’s defeat of the first motion and hope they will use that good sense moving forward,” states Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network (NCLN), an organization that supports pro-life students in Canada. “UMSU is certainly within its rights to review its own policies and even discuss the display approval process with the administration – as long as they don’t attempt to hinder the club’s right to exist and exercise its freedom of expression on campus.”
“The display was a great opportunity to dialogue with students about the issue of abortion,” says Ginter. “We’re looking forward to continuing this conversation over the course of the year, educating our peers about this important human rights issue.”
For more information please contact:
Cara Ginter, vice-president, University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life: email@example.com
Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Carpay, JCCF President and lawyer acting for the students: 403-619-8014, email@example.com.
I was new on the job and only a recent grad myself on October 4th, 2010. The NCLN Symposium had just finished and we caught a train to Ottawa to help out Carleton Lifeline as they put on the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP). Well, as they tried to anyway.
Three years later, as I enter my fourth year on staff with NCLN, I often find myself wondering the same thing. As do, I know, too many students who may not have to face handcuffs, but still have to fight long and hard for their rights on campus.
Since joining staff with NCLN I have worked with clubs coast-to-coast as they face discrimination. This fall is no different. Just one month has passed since school has started and already clubs are fighting opposition.
In Victoria the legal representative and former president of the University of Victoria’s pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth, is suing the university because of the censorship of the club’s “Choice” Chain event last winter and the restrictions placed on the club to prevent them from hosting similar events.
And these are just the recent developments. It would take longer than one article to go through everything students went through last year – or even last semester.
So what have we gotten ourselves into?
We’re in a human rights movement, a culture war, a battle for the soul of a nation. We fight for the very principle that holds – or ought to hold – our society together: that human life is valuable and that all humans, no matter what their abilities or circumstances might be, have a right to life. We are counter-cultural and, as such, we challenge our society. When we speak truth, it unsettles, disturbs and offends those who would rather remain in denial. When we speak up, others may try to shout us down or shut us down. It has always been this way; why should we expect any different? But we must also ask ourselves, what cause was won without sacrifice? What victory was secured without a price?
No, it’s not fair. And we will fight for fair and equal treatment for pro-life students. But we do so, or at least the students and NCLN do so, because of the cause that got us into trouble in the first place. When we fight for our rights, we do so not for ourselves, but for those we fight for: the preborn children who are being slaughtered every day in our country and for their wounded moms and dads.
It would be easy to say that we’ll take up the challenge after our education, when we have a steady job and a few more letters behind our name, when we have more time and aren’t constrained by midterms, papers or our course schedule. But we cannot wait until tomorrow when we are presently in such a critically important environment. Being a university pro-life activist might cost us something but I also believe, like Martin Luther King Jr. did, that it is worth the cost.
“Make a career of humanity,” he said, “Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
But ultimately it is the lives on the line that keeps us going when the opposition mounts. It is the witness of friends, like the students arrested at Carleton in 2010, who inspire us. It is the truth awakened in our own hearts that compels us to end the injustice of abortion and build a Culture of Life – starting with our campuses.
PRO-LIFE STUDENTS AT BRANDON UNIVERSITY FINALLY RECEIVE CLUB STATUS
BRANDON, MB (September 9, 2013) – As the school year begins, a pro-life club at Brandon University has finally been granted full club status after a lengthy process that has taken an entire year.
“It’s been a long, frustrating year so we’re glad to finally have official club status,” said Catherine Dubois, President of Brandon Students for Life. “It has taken a lot of work to get us here, but we are thrilled at the opportunity to spread the pro-life message on campus! Our executive has a lot planned for this semester and so now that we have status we can hit the ground running. We are extremely excited to be ratified and to be able to really engage, connect with, and educate our peers.”
The student union’s decision was communicated to the club’s lawyer, John Carpay, at the end of August. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms had intervened at the end of April by informing the student union that legal action would be taken if club status was not granted.
“It is illegal for a student union to deny club status on the basis of the club’s beliefs, opinions, or philosophy. All students are required to pay dues to the student union, and all students enjoy the same right to start the club of their choice. I am pleased that the situation at Brandon was resolved without needing to go to court,” stated Carpay, President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
The controversy began in August 2012 when Catherine Dubois and another club member met with the student union president and vice-president external to discuss starting a pro-life club. They were then informed that the student union would not approve a pro-life club, as they wished to avoid division on campus. The pro-life students filed for status despite this on January 23, 2013 but received a rejection on February 4th, citing conflicts between the union’s bylaws and the club’s constitution.
Students for Life continued their fight for status, and further inquired about what policies their proposed constitution required. After receiving the policies and discussing the issues with members of the student union, the club made amendments and resubmitted on March 5th.
On April 2nd, the club was informed that the student union would defer the decision on whether or not to grant status to next year’s council, thus preventing the club from having status on campus for an entire year.
“Getting club status should not require an entire year or lawyers,” stated Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for the National Campus Life Network, a Canadian organization that exists to support pro-life clubs like Students for Life.“We applaud the student union’s decision, but the club should never have had to go through this lengthy process in the first place.”
For further comment please contact:
Catherine Dubois, President, Brandon University Students for Life, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator, National Campus Life Network, email@example.com, 604 365 3484
John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, firstname.lastname@example.org, 403-619-8014