University of Toronto Students for Life: #LifeWeek2015: Recap

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by ctimperley. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

#LifeWeek2015 has officially come to a close and we are blown away by the success of each and every event!

Let’s take a look back at the successes of the past week:

On Monday, we began #LifeWeek2015 with a lecture by Dr. Calhoun of West Virginia University. His talk, titled “The Fetus As Our Patient: Therapeutic Advances in Prenatal Diagnosis and Therapy” explored how previously lethal diagnoses can now be treated in utero. Dr. Calhoun’s lecture served to open the audience’s mind to the idea of the pre-born child not simply as a part of the mother, but as a patient on his or her own.

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#LifeWeek2015 continued into Tuesday evening with our panel discussion about Services for Pregnant Women and Common Ground Between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Groups. The panel featured advocates from both sides of the debate and overall, suggested a desire to help women who find themselves in trying circumstances.

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On Wednesday, we continued our raising awareness about the pro-life movement in the lobby of the Medical Sciences Building with Q&A for a Cookie. With a bowl of questions on one side of the table and packages of cookies on the other, we invited passerby to pick a question, discuss it with us, and earn a cookie in the process. With questions ranging from topics about abortion laws in Canada – or the lack thereof – to services for women in crisis pregnancies, our team dialogued with the University of Toronto community, many of whom became illuminated through this activity to the availability of resources for women in these situations and the need to reconsider for themselves the definition of personhood – all while munching on some cookies!

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On Thursday, #LifeWeek2015 put the pro-life and pro-choice movements in contrast with a debate titled “Abortion: Human Right or Human Rights Violation?”. Featuring Maaike Rosendal of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and University of Toronto Philosophy Professor Wayne Sumner, the debate showcased both the differences and similarities between each side of the argument, primarily the criteria for human rights and, connecting to our first lecture, the treatment of situations with a pregnant woman as consisting of one patient, the mother, or two, extending to include the pre-born child.

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#LifeWeek2015 concluded on Friday with our regular volunteering at Aid to Women, a prominent crisis pregnancy centre in the city.

Thank you to all who helped us out with the organization and execution of #LifeWeek2015, as well as all those who came out and participated in these events!

We hope that this past week served to affect change in the hearts and minds of the University of Toronto community. As a result of #LifeWeek2015, we hope that you, too, have been inspired to join us in our mission to protect and defend all human life, from conception to natural death.

To be informed regularly about UTSFL’s events and activities, subscribe to our email list on the sidebar of this page!

For more updates, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Slacktivism

Written by Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator

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Have you fallen prey to the slacktivist mentality?

Wikipedia tells us that the term slacktivism “describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it take satisfaction from the feeling they have contributed.”

Examples? Signing an online petition, ‘liking’ a Facebook post, re-tweeting an article, or sharing a video or an article on your page. These are all activities that, although they may be well intentioned evolve around good causes, cannot substitute old-fashioned, real-world active participation in a cause. These “actions” may ease our guilt of being inactive in a cause, but one cannot simply “like” a Facebook post and then wipe our hands and say our work is done. However: this could be a good first step.

Can we use this slacktivist mentality for the greater good?

We need to meet people where they are at right now. Given our technology-saturated culture, most people are probably currently on their computers or smartphones. So let’s start where they are, and move them to action with a touch of their screen or a click of a mouse. But I know that human beings are capable of much more than moving their fingers.

Don’t get me wrong – keep liking and sharing our NCLN Facebook posts and re-tweeting our tweets! Your social media feed may be the first and only place that someone in your network hears the pro-life message. But don’t stop there. Talk face to face with someone about what you have heard or learned.

My challenge to you:

READ this post. LIKE it on our National Campus Life Network page. SHARE it on your page. But don’t stop there. I challenge you to speak to TWO PEOPLE this week about abortion. They could be friends or classmates who you’ve never spoken to about the issue, or even the person next to you on the bus.  Share your truth-sharing conversations with the hashtag #2PersonChallenge – you’ll be surprised as to what a difference one conversation can make in someone’s attitude towards abortion. Share these stories on social media and in the comments below!

Your story can be a simple impacting moment, such as this student’s story:

After telling my classmate that I was headed to a pro-life club meeting, I asked her what she thought about abortion. After I discussed the humanity of the pre-born with her, she was amazed at their development so early in the pregnancy, and couldn’t believe that there are no abortion laws in Canada! #2PersonChallenge

Move your club members to action, as well as those two people you reach out to, by encouraging them to take up the #2PersonChallenge as well! If each of us takes on this challenge, think of how our efforts will multiply!

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U of G Life Choice: The Road Ahead

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by alexsibiga. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

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You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right. - Rosa Parks 

A little over a week ago I spent a weekend in a place that seemed too good to be true, a made-up land perhaps…actually as more time passes, the more I feel as though I did just dream up the whole thing.

This Oz that I am talking about is the NCLN Symposium- a pro-life conference put on by pro-life power-houses to train and equip members of pro-life clubs on university campuses all across Canada. This was a place where everyone around was, in fact, pro-life and shared the belief that abortion is wrong.

Woah, right?

It was such a great and unusual experience being surrounded by people who feel the same way as I do about abortion and have the same passion as I do to end it. I was in a place where I could openly share how sad I am for the pain abortion causes women, or how angry I am at abortion clinics and their coercive ways used to make ridiculous profit, or how frustrated I am at our culture’s double standard when it comes to human rights. I could share these views openly and everyone agreed and shared similar opinions!  Seriously, not used to that.

Being a pro-lifer at a university such as Guelph’s, I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to being part of the minority who thinks the littlest of us should have the right to live and that the best solution for an unplanned pregnancy ISN’T to “undo” it. I am pretty aware that this isn’t the general consensus at school. With not a single pregnant student in sight and a Planned Parenthood ad in the section of our survival guides that’s supposed to tell us where to go if pregnant, it seems the culture around me is more pro-abortion than anything…

So as you could imagine, it was a breath of fresh air being at this symposium. I wasn’t in Kansas- I mean Guelph, anymore, and a big part of me wanted to stay there forever. That would be counter-productive though… if you want to change the world, you can’t only surround yourself with people who agree with you. So now we’re back to school, but I’ve taken a lot from the weekend with me, and I hope to hang on to all I’ve learned like a life vest in this stormy pro-abortion sea!

There are three specific things that struck me:

We are human rights activists. There’s a significant group in our population who do not have the rights that they deserve, that we all deserve- the right to live, and this is no different from the other major human rights violations in the past. When some people were considered slaves, it was perfectly legal to deny them their rights to freedom. The law said these humans were not persons. Many people accepted that this was how their society had to run. But then there were those few loud and bold individuals who stood up for them. Those human rights activists took on the struggle and fought the unconquerable battle until it was conquered. It’s no different now. We are human rights activists fighting for what will one day end, and when our grandchildren live in a world where, like slavery now, abortion is unthinkable, and they ask us if we did anything about it, we won’t have to be ashamed about our indifference or our silence.

Being Pro-life is an action. Okay so I’ve always thought abortion was wrong, but sometimes I just didn’t think about it, and sometimes I felt like it was just too big of an issue for me to be able to do anything…so I didn’t do anything. I justified this by telling myself that I know it’s wrong, I would never have one, and that’s as far as being pro-life needs to go. What’s wrong with this picture is that being an inactive pro-lifer is believing abortion is killing human beings but letting it go on! I know it’s a huge battle to fight, but we’re 100% sure to lose if we fight with apathy and inaction. The Pro-Life Movement is gaining momentum and everyone has something to offer it! We need social media masterminds, prayer warriors, convincing conversationalists, generous funders, maternal support super heroes, and SO much more. Preborn infants can’t speak or act. But we can. And we must.

Finally, Be courageous and have hope, change is ACTUALLY possible. The biggest thing I got out of the weekend was HOPE. It’s so easy to get discouraged and think that no one will ever change their mind about abortion, but I learned that hearts and minds are being changed across Canada. Through logical, loving, and honest dialogue many people are realizing the injustice. The CCBR, Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, is an incredible and gutsy organization that goes out to the streets with the very real images of abortion victims. As alarming as that sounds, a lot of people take those images to heart. Of course people get angry at the display, but then they talk with the CCBR members and come to the conclusion that abortion is in fact taking the life of a person. These conversations aren’t heated debates, like so many of our discussions about abortion end up being; these conversations are rooted in love for all life, and THAT is what changes things. I know this yellow brick road pro-lifers have to walk is not an easy one, but take courage and love those who are pro-choice, because it’s that courage and that love which WILL change hearts and save lives.

I’m writing all of this not just for you to read and hopefully be inspired, but for myself also. I feel as though the fire I have for this cause is blazing and ready to take on the world, but I know being at university is like placing this fire in a blizzard. This battle is so incredibly tough. Discouragement and apathy are sure to take a swing at me this year, but when they do, I hope to read this and remember that we can’t stop because we’re tired, or because it’s hard. We can only stop on the day every heart and mind believes the truth, and the land of Oz- the land that respects all human life, won’t be somewhere over the rainbow, but right here at home.

And there’s no place like home.

Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.

uOttawa Students For Life: Flags on the Hill

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

IMG_20141002_080245This morning, members of uOttawa Students for Life joined almost one hundred other volunteers from We Need A Law to plant 100,000 blue and pink flags on Parliament Hill. Each of these flags represents one of the 100,000 children killed by abortion in Canada every year since the Morgentaler decision in 1988.

The children represented by these flags were not much loved in life, and have rarely been remembered in death, except perhaps by their mothers and fathers, many of whom grieve by the loss of their children to abortion. But for most of us, these children’s lives ended so soon after they began that their deaths passed us by unnoticed and largely uncared for. 

Today we took a stand to remember these children and to witness to the injustice committed against them. These children will never laugh or cry. They were never read a book or watch a play. They will never see a sunset. And they will never feel the embrace of the one they love. They were killed before any of that. They are victims of our individualist and consumer culture, as are their parents. But they will not go unremembered, at least not while we have anything to say about it.

Because we are pro-life. We want the unwanted. We defend the defenceless. And we witness to the beauty, the power, and the meaning of every single human life from conception till natural death.

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Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

Faces of the Pro-Life Movement

Written by Meagan Nijenhuis, Summer Intern

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The Symposium introduced me to the people working the front lines of the Pro-Life Movement: other students leading campus clubs from across Canada and men and women leading organizations full-time. The people were so incredibly friendly; they were absolutely delighted to meet you. And when I went on the Florida GAP tour in February, my travel-weary self was immediately greeted by at least 4 different smiling faces asking me: “Would you like to play cards?”, “How was your flight?” “When did you last eat?”, “Oh, wait… what’s your name? Where are you from?”. Our Movement is all about loving and caring for people. We see the value in the person next to us.

But how do people on the outside see us?

They are fed the popular media’s bias. To them, we are the cold-hearted “anti-aborts” with the sole desire of withholding rights from women. We are stereotyped. Many assumptions are made. Let’s bust this stereotype and show our campuses the true faces of the Pro-Life Movement.

This is just another reason to do more activism on your campus: more and more people will have the, “Oh, I didn’t expect to have such a great conversation with you” moment. They won’t be able to paint our smiling faces with a negative stereotype anymore. When they read about the Movement in the media, they’ll have that personal connection.

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The first time many people on your campus will personally meet someone from the Pro-Life Movement is at your pro-life event, whether it be tabling, clip-boarding, running a debate or having a speaker come in. How will you change their perspective of you? I was taught by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform that “It doesn’t necessarily matter what you say to them but how you treat them. That’s what they’ll remember.” Not everyone is easy to connect and communicate with but it’s absolutely imperative that we have the same love and value for the person we’re defending the preborn children’s cause to as we have for the preborn children themselves. There’s no way they will even begin to take you seriously if you don’t make loving them a top priority.

One of the ultimate ways to show you value them is to listen intently (rather than just waiting to speak). Understand their concerns. There may be a lot that they’re not telling you. With Canada’s 26 years of entirely unlegislated abortion, many have been direct victims of the culture of death. Many young people know a woman who’s had an abortion: a family friend, their own mother or even themselves. With the highest number of abortions being performed on women of university age, we are ministering to people who’ve been ravaged by “choice.” These young men and women desperately need a smiling open face and a listening heart. And that’s where we come in.

 

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Symposium Testimony: Swimming in the Deep End

Meagan Nijenhuis, Summer Intern

I was thrown into the deep end, finding myself vice president of Life Choice at the University of Guelph before I even had time to put on my swimming goggles. My parents raised me to respect all human life but until university, the extent of my involvement had been showing up at 40 Days for Life once a year. I had been to a maximum of four meetings and suddenly I was on the executive. I needed to orient myself in the pro-life world. And fast. I had a pro-life club to help run. The NCLN Symposium gave me the water wings to survive the plunge into campus activism.

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The Symposium introduced me to other student leaders from across the country, giving me a glimpse of the magnitude of the movement. I was surrounded by so many others who were also in the “deep end”, bringing the message of life to a campus shrouded with a culture of death. Sometimes life brings you together with people for an instant and then you go your separate ways. In the Pro-Life Movement, it has to be different. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other and continue onward together, no matter the distance that separates us. We are a team. I’ve been able to keep in contact, bounce ideas off and team up with students from across Canada because of relationships fostered at the Symposium.
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As a newbie to the pro-life front, I wasn’t aware of the army of organizations that fight for preborn human rights. At the Symposium I was able to not only learn from many of them in sessions and workshops, but also to have one-on-one conversations with these renowned leaders throughout the weekend. The Symposium expanded my network of resources to include more experienced people I would be able to fall back on for advice while leading Life Choice through the fall and winter semesters.

The Symposium saturated us with helpful information from a wide range of disciplines. Over the course of the weekend talks were given on the psychology of those you talk to on the street, the current state of abortion law in Canada and different projects you can run on your campus like the Silent No More Awareness Campaign or “Choice” Chain among others. They were pumping more and more air into my water wings.

This introduction to the Pro-Life Movement fueled a zeal to protect all human life and gave me both the tools and the connections I needed to tread the waters of campus activism. I was set for life in the “deep end.”

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Transitioning Your Club Leadership

Leadership transitions are about more than having elections and then moving all of the club materials from the corner of your bedroom to the corner of someone else’s! A successful transition is key to helping the new leaders build off of your successes. The following are a few important items to go over with the new club leaders:

RELATIONSHIPS

Connect new club leaders to:

  • The local community pro-life organizations and leaders (A simple email or a quick visit can go a long way to ensuring they maintain those relationships and know where to go for support.);
  • NCLN’s local Campus Coordinator;
  • Other clubs that are sympathetic and supportive;
  • Any donors who have regularly assisted the club;
  • The rest of your club exec!

A Club Executive outing is a great way to build connections (and take a well-needed break from studying for exams!).

HOW-TO’S OF THE SCHOOL

Ensure new leaders know how to:

  • Re-apply for club status;
  • Create a budget, submit receipts to the student society and receive reimbursements;
  • Get posters approved;
  • Book tables and events.

Distribute these tasks throughout the club executive. Ideally these types of transitions are done throughout the school year as more experienced club members mentor other students who will take on leadership roles.  

HOW-TO’S OF CLUB MANAGEMENT

Ensure new leaders:

  • Know how to chair a club meeting (from sending out a club agenda, to keeping the meeting on task, delegating responsibilities, and taking meeting minutes); (President & VP)
  • Know how to run the club email account (and discuss email etiquette! For example, always bcc: your contacts when sending a mass email.) (Club secretary + president/VP)
  • Review the club constitution and bylaws; (all leaders!)
  • Have had the signing authority for the bank account transferred to them and understand the ins and outs about dealing with the bank account. (Club treasurer + either VP or president).

PLANNING

Upcoming events:

  • March for Life: Who’s going? How are you going to get there? And who’s registered for the NCLN Student Dinner?!
  • Summer: What should the leaders be doing to prepare for the fall? (club meeting, workshops with NCLN, fundraising letters, pro-life reading)
  • Fall semester: What worked well in the past? What are some ideas for next year and how will you accomplish them?
  • Club days, university welcome BBQ’s/orientation days: How will you have a pro-life presence at these events?
  • NCLN Symposium: Who will you send?

Remember: NCLN and your local Campus Coordinators are here to help with the transition! Be sure to be in touch! We can set up a phone call with you, Skype into a meeting and might even be able to come by in person. 

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