BC SNMAC Tour – A Week in Review

Written by Anastasia Pearse

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2 NCLN Staff Members, 4 Speakers, 5 Days, 7 Campuses and Over 10,000 Students Reached!

I first came into contact with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC) in 2009 when I attended the NCLN Symposium in Toronto. I was moved to tears by the story of Angelina Steenstra, National Director of the Campaign in Canada, shared with us. The circumstances that led to her abortion, the regret and pain that followed, and her journey to healing opened my eyes in a new way to the pain that so many students on our university campuses feel because of abortion. With our age demographic – that of university students – undergoing the most abortions, it was clear that this message is so needed on Canadian campuses. But with our club in Victoria, it seemed too difficult to bring the campaign to campus. 

photo 2 (1)The next year, an NCLN staff member based out of Vancouver coordinated a tour of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to several British Columbian campuses. My club in Victoria jumped at the chance to have them on campus and I saw firsthand the impact that the testimonials of the speakers had on students.

Now, several years later, as an NCLN staff member, I was determined to help bring the campaign once again to campuses in BC. After months of planning, we had seven campus groups on board, four speakers confirmed, and pleasant weather in the forecast, and I was ready for a fruitful week of sharing the campaign.  But even from the very first day, I could tell this was more than fruitful: it was life-changing.

On their campuses, the clubs booked outdoor space in high traffic areas. We reached students through our resource tables as well as through posters stating “Women Do Regret Abortion,” “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood,” and “A Pregnant Woman Needs Support, Not Abortion.” The speakers shared their stories of abortion and their journeys of healing through a sound system, helping extend the reach of their message. Students walking by would stop to listen: sometimes they paused for a moment, sometimes for a minute, and often for the entire presentation. Club members, as well as myself and my colleague Kathleen Dunn, were on hand to distribute information as well as engage with our peers in conversation.

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Some students, after hearing the message and talking to one of us, left with resources in hand, seeking to give them to people they knew who had experienced abortion, or to use themselves as they started on a path to healing. We saw lives transformed in front of us with women breaking their silence about their abortion stories – one woman after 50 years – and leaving with a sense of hope. We estimate that we reached over 10,000 students in those 5 days, not including those who encountered the message through student newspaper coverage, discussions in their classrooms, and social media discussion.

The campaign’s impact also extended to the pro-life students and to the speakers themselves. The pro-life students saw the reach the campaign had and were even more convicted and encouraged to be active in sharing the pro-life message. The speakers shared their testimonies multiple times over the 5 days, but by the end of the week felt more fulfilled than fatigued, as they saw the impact they had, and felt the support from each other.

For myself, I was truly inspired: inspired by the speakers’ heart-felt witness to the cause; inspired by the pro-life students’ energy and determination to reach out with the message; and inspired by the students who were open to listening to our message and sharing their stories with us.

It is heart-wrenching to encounter so many young men and women who have been hurt by abortion, but I have a great deal of hope for our generation. I have hope because I see pro-life students becoming leaders who are reaching out with compassion to help their peers, and I have hope because I have seen firsthand how the pro-life message is touching students on campus.
Thank you to all those who supported this campaign! If you’d like to help continue making these campaigns possible, please consider supporting our work financially: www.ncln.ca/donate

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To hear the testimonies that were heard on BC Campuses, visit our Youtube Channel! 

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To see more pictures from the Campus Tour, visit our Facebook page!

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University of Toronto Students for Life: “Choice” Chain at U of T

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

UTSFL "Choice" Chain

Of all the days this week to pick to start our “Choice” Chain campaign at the University of Toronto, Wednesday’s snowstorm was less than ideal compared to the balmy Monday, Tuesday and Friday this week. But it wasn’t a snow day for U of T — or for abortion clinics — so a little bit of snow wasn’t going to stop us.

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We stayed out for a bit over 2 hours, and were surprised at how many people stopped to talk or take a pamphlet, even in the snow. We had 9 volunteers with 4 “choice” signs and 2 life signs on display at the heart of campus.

UTSFL "Choice" Chain

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Thanks to our activism team members who braved the snow this week to make the humanity of pre-born children and the inhumanity of abortion known on campus. If you’re interested in getting involved with the UTSFL Activism Team to change hearts and minds about abortion and save the lives of pre-born children, send us an email at students.forlife@utoronto.ca!

UTSFL "Choice" Chain

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

5 Steps to Making the Most of Your Tabling Event!

By Clarissa Luluquisin, Central Campus Coordinator

 As NCLN’s Central Campus Coordinator, my job involves getting my boots on the ground (specifically winter ones in this weather).  I trek to campuses across the province to train and assist pro-life students in their outreach, and my favourite project to help with is the club information table.  

What can be better than engaging with a person one-on-one, hearing their thoughts on abortion and responding to their concerns, and thanking them for taking a moment to speak to you?

Can you tell that I’m an extrovert?

Although events like debates and movie screenings can be very impactful, the information table marks the start of many personal relationships of the pro-life club’s members with soon-to be club members, as well as engaging with students who are not informed about abortion.  It is pro-life activism and recruitment – all packaged into one easy event! 

How you begin these relationships matter, and in maintaining these relationships, your club has a greater opportunity to grow.  And the more it grows, the more people there will be working alongside you to spread the pro-life message.  This engagement is all the more important with lives on the line.  

Check out our information guide on tabling here, and also find my 5 suggestions:

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TWU Tabling Event

1. Create an eye-catching display board with a variety of resources on the table.

Make an event out of it with your Exec too – no need to do this all on your own.  And if you’re short on resources, contact your local campus coordinator and you’ll be sent a bunch for free. Don’t forget to print out a sign-up sheet too!

2. Start all conversations with a kind smile.

People want to talk to people who are friendly and approachable, and this is harder to do on some days, with all that you have on your plate.
Think of laughing babies and joyful mothers if you need some motivation! 🙂

3. Speak with compassion and conviction.

Asking someone how they feel about abortion can bring up a lot of different emotions in a person.  Whether it be anger, sadness, or indifference, listen attentively, tell stories, and ask good questions.  Agree with them where you can, and explain with clarity where you cannot.  Illustrate your points well and schedule an apologetics trainings for your club members every once in a while to refresh yourself.  

 4. Follow up personally with the people who have signed up for your email list and invite them to the next meeting or club event.

This cannot be emphasized enough.  A day or two after your table, send a personal email to the student you spoke with, thank them for taking the time to chat with you, and invite them to your next meeting.  If you got along really well, why not suggest meeting up for coffee to tackle a bit further that interesting point they brought up?

5. Debrief with your club members.

Whether in between conversations, or soon after a day of tabling is done, debriefing about your conversations is so essential.  How else are you ever going to get better and spread the message as effectively as possible?  If you didn’t like how you said something, think about it some more, and come up with ways with your fellow club members you would have liked to say it instead.  

Ready? Set? GROW!

Have any stories about tabling on your campus?  Send us an email

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84 Years after the Persons Case Canada Still has Lessons to Learn

Written by Kathleen Dunn

84 years ago today, on October 18th 1929, Canadian women were recognized as persons under the law.  Lord Sankey of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England reversed the Supreme Court of Canada’s earlier decision and ruled in favour of female personhood. “The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours,” he said.

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As a woman, I’m thankful that the Famous Five took matters into their own hands when our femininity was used to marginalize and exclude our gender. In the face of injustice, these women had the strength and courage to take matters into their own hands and fight for their personhood.

But as I reflect on the importance of this day, my thoughts are unquestionably drawn towards the preborn: the only group of Canadian human beings without the status of personhood.

Like the preborn, women were not recognized as persons, despite their fundamental human equality. But unlike the preborn, these women had their own voices and could speak up to defend themselves.  The preborn, while being denied personhood and human equality, are violently killed before even given the chance to speak for themselves.

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The pro-life movement is unique among social justice movements in that the victims of injustice are entirely unable to advance their own cause. Without pro-life voices like your own, the injustice of abortion will continue to silently and brutally snuff out these young lives.

So when you face discouragement in your pro-life activism, feeling as if your voice can do nothing, remember that the preborn have no voice but yours. Their silent screams will only be heard when we let them ring out through our own mouths, as we choose to defend them.

Emily Murphy, one of the Famous Five in the Persons Case, took these words as her motto: “Whenever I don’t know whether to fight or not, I fight.” So, as we celebrate this milestone for women, let us continually, in every moment, make the choice to fight – to be a voice for the preborn – who are entirely voiceless without us.

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Defund Abortion Campus Campaign

Check out this new way to engage your peers in the conversation about abortion! It’s simple to organize, virtually FREE to execute, and makes a BIG impact. The Defund Abortion Campus Campaign is a unique way to get your campus talking about abortion by opening the conversation from the standpoint of tax-payer funded abortion. NCLN hooked up with Campaign Life Coalition Youth to bring this awesome initiative to YOU!

It’s so easy to organize, you can try it on your campus next WEEK! 

Click for a video of step-by-step instructions to bring this campaign to YOUR campus! 

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Reach Campuses, Change Canada: A Message for Every Pro-Life Post-Secondary Student

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

Canada’s pro-choice movement has been well-served by campuses.  Whether pro-choice or pro-life, campuses remain critical ground to take in the culture wars.  These venerable institutions are an engine for change and cultural transformation in our country – for better or for worse.

During a recent re-reading of Henry Morgentaler’s biography, I was struck by the manner in which universities were used to advance abortion on-demand.  As the Women’s Liberation Movement rose in the 60’s and 70’s, groups formed on campuses with abortion “rights” a core tenet of their mission.  They influenced the soon-to-be legislators, lawyers, doctors and educators.  They became legislators, lawyers, doctors and educators.  Even before the law changed, their associations, such as the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Bar Association, lobbied parliament to allow abortions.

And when Henry Morgentaler was arrested, “women across the country were politicized, activated” and able to spring to his support, says biographer Catherine Dunphy.[1]  And it was often university educated men and women – the business, arts, and political elites -that publicly or privately championed the cause, often funding and fundraising for it as well. photo 3

These days pro-choicers are calling on students to reclaim campuses for the cause.  A few years ago the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) began a student project, and Joyce Arthurs has served, she wrote in an ARCC newsletter, as a consultant for student unions nationally.  Their student coordinator even noted with concern that, “Canadian campuses have become hotbeds for anti-choice activities in recent years.”[2] 

But our goal is not to merely worry pro-choicers.  We still have a lot of work to do.  But as we return back to school – or start at university or college for the first time – we can find ourselves overwhelmed.  The fact is that there are many good and noble things that can occupy our thoughts and time.

When I started my degree at the University of Ottawa, pro-life activism was not on my radar.  I was pro-life, to be sure, but I was focused on getting my education, accomplishing my goals and ultimately doing good in the world after graduation.  None of this was bad, but I was missing something: the fact that Canadian campuses are mission fields desperate for the pro-life message and that I could do good here and now and not just after graduation.

Our campuses contain the age demographic upon which the most abortions are performed each year; our campuses contain Canada’s future leaders; our campuses affect Canadian culture.  And unless there is an active pro-life presence on a campus, students are exposed to only the pro-choice message.

This year, in particular, I have been impacted by the sad reality that we are a generation that has come of age in the 25 years since the R. v. Morgentaler Supreme Court decision.  We are a generation that has known nothing but unrestricted abortion on-demand.  We are survivors, with a quarter of our generation having lost their lives to abortion.

That is who we are and we didn’t have a choice, but who we can become is what we get to choose.  We have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that the next generation is not abandoned to the fate that ours suffered.

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The upcoming NCLN Symposium is entirely dedicated to forming student leaders who can lead Canada out of the shadows of R. v. Morgentaler.  This weekend’s theme is Out of the Shadows, and is open to all pro-life students in Canada as an incredible opportunity to be formed, educated, and equipped by top Canadian and American pro-life leaders as well as to connect with the cross-Canada Student Pro-Life Movement.

Many Canadian pro-lifers, including leaders such as the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Stephanie Gray, Jonathon Van Maren and Maaike Rosendal, credit the Symposium with being “THE event” for pro-life students and “literally life changing” for them personally.

If you believe that abortion is the killing of innocent human beings, if you believe that women deserve better than abortion, and if you want to see Canadian culture respect life, it’s time to take action on campuses.  The Symposium is a great way to start.

I realize that I am asking you to let your heart break for injustice, over and over again.  I know that I am asking you to make a sacrifice and to take a risk.  But it is only in this way that we can move Canada out of the shadows and into the light of a Culture of Life. It starts with you; it starts with your campus.


[1] Catherine Dunphy.  Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero.  Toronto: Random House of Canada Ltd. 1996, pg. 100.

[2] Tara Paterson, “Pro-choice thinkers unite! A call-out for pro-active reproductive justice”. March 3 2012.

http://arccsynergy.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/pro-choice-thinkers-unite-a-call-out-for-pro-active-reproductive-justice/

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Diving into the Year

Rebecca Richmond

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Here we are, somehow, in September.  

This time of the year is full of memories for many of us: memories of back-to-school shopping, serious contemplation over our first day of school outfits, sharpening pencils and packing our bulging backpacks.  I recall always being so careful to go to bed at an early hour, and often being unable to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning because I was so wired.  Despite little sleep, I would jolt out of bed as soon as my alarm went off.

That was not the case this morning.  I am not in school but my entire job is oriented to supporting students, so when you start school, our busy summer shifts into hyper drive for the fall.  But this morning I did not want to be conscious, not because I was tired, but because I did not want to face the challenges of the day.  No, to be entirely accurate, I didn’t want to face the challenges of the day, the week, the semester, the year…you get the picture.    

It’s not that I mind hard work.  I happily give up evenings and weekends, like every other pro-life activist in the country, to do what needs to get done.  No, my problem isn’t the work.  It’s the fear that I won’t be capable of the work.  It’s the fear of failure: of letting people down, of not being able to do it all, of not being able to do it all perfectly.  My perfectionist tendencies needle me and procrastination is an almost irresistible temptation.  And yes, I succumbed briefly to the temptation of the ‘snooze’ button this morning.

It is easy to disguise these fears with the easily accepted explanation of being “too busy”.  The reality is, no matter how ‘busy’ we are with school and work, we do have time.  We make time everyday for things that aren’t really priorities – or shouldn’t be anyway – in our lives.  We make time for Facebook, we make time for Youtube videos,  for watching TV, for random Google searches we can’t even recall the original purpose for.  We make time for people, socializing, going out.  And we do make time for pro-life activism, but we all struggle to keep up.  Those emails that must get written, the meetings we promised to attend, the tasks we promised to take on are all important aspects of that activism.  They are the little choices that build a foundation for having an impact on campus.

Time is part of the issue, but what is the deeper root of our problem?  What are we afraid of?

Are we afraid of what other people will think? Maybe we’d rather keep our activism on the down low; we’re still doing pro-life things…as long as no one we know notices.  

Are we afraid that we won’t be able to fulfill our responsibilities properly, so we procrastinate until we have to bow out with an excuse?

Are we afraid that we’ll let our fellow club members down?  Afraid that we’ll let the cause down?

These are all real fears that can paralyze us, if we let them.  So as we go back-to-school and prepare ourselves for the year, let’s give ourselves a good dose of perspective.  I dare you to ask yourself a dangerous question, a question that radically changed my time at university and continues to get me out of bed even on daunting mornings: is the fear that is holding me back more important than the message I have to share?  Or, will the reality of 300 innocent lives lost every day to abortion in Canada propel me to overcome my fears and insecurities?

I know that standing here, on the brink of a new semester, can be daunting.  All of us would prefer to merely dip our toes or wade in the waters of the cause.  But injustices are never righted by people taking an occasional lukewarm interest.   Conviction must lead to commitment if we are to succeed in ending abortion.  It requires us to be brave and bold enough to stop hugging the shoreline and dive past our fears into the deep uncertain waters of a life lived for others.

So sign up for an executive position with your club, organize that first club meeting, plan those events, book those club tables, remind those friends about getting involved, and live as if somebody else’s life depends on it – because it does.

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Back-to-School Activism Ideas

We know that planning a semester of pro-life activism can be overwhelming – especially as you see your course-load for the semester! But ensuring that your campus hears the pro-life message doesn’t have to be difficult. So long as you plan ahead, cooperate with your team and make your club a priority, educating your peers will be effective, impactful – and even fun!

Need some ideas on how to spread the pro-life message on your campus? Here’s a list of events you can host on your campus:

Formation:  Instill within your club members a sense of mission (why it’s critical to be actively pro-life on campus), a sense of belonging (why they are needed in this particular club), and provide them with opportunities to be formed as pro-life activists. KeepCalm

  • Offer an apologetics workshop (don’t forget NCLN staff are available to offer workshops on how to defend the pro-life position).
  • Share and watch great teaching videos from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Clubs Days/101 Weeks/Clubs Fairs/Frosh Week: Whatever your school calls it, these tables are great opportunities for recruitment and outreach. Download our Clubs Days and Tabling Guide to learn more about how to have a great and effective table!

Leaflet-ing/Distributing Resources: Our Right to Know brochures are great for distributing on campus.  Leaflet-ing is as simple as organizing a small group of students to offer resources and dialogue with your peers in busy places on campus. Contact NCLN to order brochures for your campus!

Surveying: All you need are clipboards, pens and surveys.  This is a great event to engage your peers in dialogue as you ask them to complete a short survey on life issues. Like leaflet-ing, it is low-cost and easy to organize.  Contact NCLN for sample surveys you can use!

Movie Night: This can be a great way to get to know your peers in a social setting, while being inspired by an impactful movie. Check out films like October Baby, Bella and It’s a Girl!

Chalking: A fun activity that can be done to advertise for a particular event or used to educate on abortion statistics.  This can be a great social activity for after a club meeting!

“Choice” Chain: A project by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.  Contact them for more information on how to bring this to your campus.

Guest Speakers/Debates: A large event is a great way to engage your campus, but they do take time, organization and effort.  Make sure you have enough time to organize an event like this properly and be in touch with NCLN.  Our strategy workshops can help your club organize a high-impact event.

Do not hesitate to contact NCLN for advice on executing these plans and for more ideas! Remember: NCLN is here to help YOU! We are always just a phone call, email or Facebook message away!

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