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National Campus Life Network > Blog > NCLN Activities

Without Exception

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Written by: Anastasia Pearse

Hopefully most of us haven’t had an occasion where we’ve needed a lifeguard to save the day – that is, to save our lives. But even without such personal experience, we know one thing to be true about lifeguards: if someone calls out in need of help, the lifeguard won’t call back to confirm his or her identity; a lifeguard won’t be checking IDs or going through a list of questions before mounting a rescue to decide if the person’s life is worth saving. Lifeguards are there to save our lives – without exception.  

We also demonstrate the urgency and importance of saving lives when we clear the road for an  ambulance; we know that there are lives at stake, so we indirectly assist those who are directly assisting the vulnerable – without exception. So many of our societal norms and laws are geared towards protecting the lives of the vulnerable. But unfortunately those of us in the pro-life movement know that there is a gaping exception: how society treats pre-born children.

We’ve seen the inconsistencies in the way people act when it comes to the abortion issue, and we’ve heard the many exceptions that are raised. We’ve been confronted with students who are animal rights activists, students who are involved in the blood donor club, medical students, students who volunteer at the local food bank; students who are dedicating their time to saving the lives of others but who speak out against saving those who are most vulnerable in our society – the pre-born. We’ve heard people state they are pro-life, except for the case of rape. Or if the child will have a disability. Or if they will be born into poverty. So many people pride themselves on their dedication to saving the lives of others. But they have exceptions.

As pro-lifers, we see that there are no exceptions when it comes to saving the lives of innocent human beings. We see the dignity of every human being, and so work to uphold and protect them – without exception. This does not end with the pre-born, but also extends to the lives of all who are vulnerable in our society, and to each and every person we speak to on a daily basis. By our words and actions, we need to affirm their value and worth – without exception.

But 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? We will help at the pro-life Outreach Table, except if it’s in a public space where our classmates  may see us. We will attend a pro-life lecture, except if there’s a paper to complete that we’ve been procrastinating on. We will go to a club meeting, except if our friends are having a movie night that we’d prefer to go to. We act as pro-lifers, except when it does not fit into our schedules or comfort zone.

We want you to be pro-life – without exception. To help you be exceptional pro-lifer student leaders who can overcome these exceptions, we are excited to announce our 2015 NCLN Symposium: Without Exception. The 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. It will prepare you to have productive conversations that affirm the dignity of those we speak to – even when we disagree with them. It will give you the strategies, leadership skills, and motivation you need to overcome those exceptions we place on our own pro-life outreach. So join us for an amazing, life-changing weekend! Applications open June 22nd!

As the summer moves forward, consider how you can make a commitment to being an exceptional pro-lifer. Continue to educate yourself on the pro-life position so you can show how each and every human life deserves the right to life. Challenge yourself to fully engage and give yourself to those difficult conversations so you can show those you speak with that their life has value and dignity.  Make a commitment to participate fully in the activities of your pro-life club so you can work alongside your team to share the message on your campus.

We challenge you to be pro-life. Without exception.

For more information about the 2015 Symposium, click here.

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March for Life Victoria Recap!

Written by Ashley Bulthuis, NCLN Summer Intern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March for Life Recap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NCLN Welcomes New Executive Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Baggy Clothes and Baby Bumps: Day 1 of our Campus Campaign

by Anastasia Pearse, NCLN Western Campus Coordinator

She has to wear baggy clothes on campus, she told us. Because, as a pregnant student, she feels the stigma and felt embarrassed by the looks she received whenever her clothes revealed her growing belly.YNRL

She had stopped by our event with her boyfriend, intrigued by the images of the campaign that featured a young mom, her baby, and the title You’ll Never Regret Loving This Much. They were immediately interested in the community support for pregnant women that we mentioned; they hadn’t yet heard about the kind of resources that crisis pregnancy centres and organizations like Birthright can offer. That’s when they told us that they were pregnant.

They weren’t the only pregnant students we encountered yesterday at Simon Fraser University. We also met a student whose wife is 6 months pregnant. He was able to speak with a volunteer from a resource centre and will now be able to get the support he needs. Who knows how many other students we reached through our conversations and distribution of resources! Students drawn to the campaign also wanted to contribute, adding donations to a fund that will go towards supporting pregnant women in the community.

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This event at SFU with SFU Lifeline is only one part of a campus tour NCLN has coordinated for British Columbia campuses this week. The resources feature information about what support exists in the community and are from LifeCanada’s You’ll Never Regret Loving This Much campaign. Through this partnership with LifeCanada, we are getting this critical information to the demographic that needs it so desperately. The campaign also features young moms sharing their personal stories of choosing life, even under difficult circumstances, in public places on campus.

Day 1 of this campaign revealed, yet again, why pro-life clubs are so essential on our campuses: we need to ensure that students get the information and support that they need – information and contacts we were able to provide to the pregnant students we encountered yesterday (and many more). We can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store!

For more information on the other campuses this campaign will be visiting, click here.

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#LifeWeek on BC Campuses!

YNRLFrom March 17-19th, four campuses in BC will be promoting Life Canada’s You’ll Never Regret Loving this Much campaign, bringing in young women who will share real life stories that outline the reality of the hardships young pregnant women endure, but also the joy in the decision to choose life for their child. These women will be sharing their stories throughout the day in an open area on campus, being a public witness to the cause; we will also be distributing resources that outline the positive alternatives to abortion and show that there are resources available to support parents. Through this outreach we plan to engage thousands of students, reaching a demographic that needs to hear this message the most.

TUESDAY MARCH 17th
Simon Fraser University – Burnaby
9:00-3:00, Convo Mall
Join the Facebook event here.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 18th
University of the Fraser Valley – Abbotsford
9:00-3:00, on the Green
Click here for the Facebook event.

Columbia Bible College – Abbotsford
6:30pm, Clearwood Room
Click here for the Facebook event

THURSDAY MARCH 19th
Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Surrey
9:00-3:00, Main Courtyard
As part of their LifeWeek events, Trinity Western University will be hosting, “Echoes of the Holocaust” with Stephanie Gray at 7pm in Block Hall on Wednesday, March 18th.

She will be discussing how abortion is a modern day genocide. Come out to be challenged and inspired by her compelling words! Join the Facebook event here.

 

Support these students by donating to NCLN and by attending these events in your area!

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McMaster Students Shout Down Anti-Abortion Speaker

McMaster Lifeline held an event on campus: “Abortion: Reproductive or Human Rights?” presented by Maaike Rosendal of The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Though it was protested and interrupted with yelling and chants, we want to give a big congratulations and thank you to McMaster Lifeline, Maaike, and those who respectfully attended and engaged in the discussion, for being willing to bring such an important message to campus.

What is a university, unless a place to respectfully share and discuss ideas and opinions? Needless to say, the pro-choice position embarrassed themselves that night.

See below for CCBR‘s official press release regarding the incident:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: McMaster Students Shout Down Anti-Abortion Speaker

Between 20 and 25 students shouted down an anti-abortion speaker Thursday night at McMaster University, disrupting the presentation, stealing a box of books and DVDs, and chanting until the police arrived.

The lecture was organized by McMaster Lifeline, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness about the abortion issue, and featured Maaike Rosendal, a speaker with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (www.endthekilling.ca). Pro-choice students apparently took issue with the fact that a speaker with anti-abortion views would be allowed to speak, and responded w10525987_303306069874813_8279273968683516785_nith various chants and signs featuring slogans like, “Pro-sex. Pro-child. Pro-woman. Pro-abortion.”

Audience members expressed irritation that the presentation was disrupted. The popular Facebook Page “Stuff McMaster Professors Say” posted the following statement: “Professors, TAs, and students alike attended this meeting simply wanting to learn more about the prolife view yet people got into unnecessary fights, violating their right to the freedom of speech. The presenters still went on but what they did gave a bad name for prochoicers and the University of McMaster… People in university hold different views from you. That doesn’t mean you should attack people. That doesn’t mean you should silence people. Grow up.”

“It’s a shame that pro-choice students think the only way they can win this debate is by silencing it,” Maaike Rosendal of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform noted, “We are more than happy to engage in dialogue, but at too many universities abortion supporters simply want to shout us down and shut us down.”

The McMaster incident follows on the heels of similar incidents at McGill University, the University of Waterloo, and Brock University. After the police arrived, they ensured the rights of all were respected and the presentation was able to proceed.

Find video footage of the incident here.

For more information, contact Maaike Rosendal at 1-403-360-2376.

Source: http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/blog/2014/11/10/immediate-release-mcmaster-students-shout-down-anti-abortion-speaker

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The top 5 things about the NCLN Symposium (for this Campus Coordinator, anyway)

Written by Clarissa Canaria

Two weeks after the Symposium, what better way to recap its awesomeness but through a list?

5) Parodies

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Alongside exercises in pro-life activism (literally), parodies made applicable to pro-life students on campus are a blast – especially when everyone sings along!

Babies – you fight for their rights like nobody else
The way that you stand for life gets us overwhelmed
And when you’re wearing your shirt, it ain’t hard to tell
That you know, oh oh, preborn life is beautiful!

 

4) Team-building

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The ultimate in team-building: Giant Dutch Blitz!  This is an NCLN Symposium tradition.  If you haven’t tried this in it’s card game version, you must!
(Or, come to the Symposium next year (: )

3) Babies everywhere!

What better way to remember the group of human beings we are fighting for than seeing them ex utero?

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2) Stellar Speakers and Presentations

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The giants of the Canadian pro-life movement come to the Symposium to speak on so many relevant topics.  And, in many cases, attendees have the chance to speak with them one-on-one after their presentations.  This is such a unique opportunity, making the Symposium extra special. (If you missed the Symposium, check out our list of speakers to learn more about their work!)

1) The Network

From regional break-out sessions, to meal times, to the Saturday evening social, the building of relationships among students and feeling the sense of solidarity with them is so essential.  We are all there to learn how to serve our campuses better – knowing that others are doing that alongside you on campuses across the country, you can’t help but feel your sense of mission renewed.
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Do you have a Symposium testimony to share? We’d love to hear from you! Email Kathleen: kathleen@ncln.ca and we’ll share your story!

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