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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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I’m Sick of the March for Life

m4l march banner

Written by Rebecca Richmond

As long as you remember to wear sunscreen, the March for Life can be a lot of fun. At the National March we had gorgeous weather, great speakers, and a large turnout, and it all produced a contagious energy that gives you hope for the movement. Take a look at the smiling faces of the attendees and you can immediately tell that we are a people who love life, and we’re not afraid to share that with the nation and, in particular on that particular day, with our elected representatives.

But I’m sick of marching. I want to go to Ottawa every year to enjoy the tulips and have a reunion with my friends and colleagues. I enjoy the day, but the reality of why we march is sickening. The March is a protest, a public witness to politicians and to the country that there is a (taxpayer funded) human rights violation killing 100,000 Canadians every year.

I’m sick of the March because I’m sick of the injustice.

The March for Life and the dinners, EWTN TV specials and youth conferences that accompany it are only truly good in so far as they propel us back into our communities, our networks, our campuses. These one-day annual events are only truly impactful in so far as they serve as a springboard for local pro-life action that is regular, visible and engaging.

The point of a springboard is to help us reach new heights, but it only works if we choose to jump.

Tens of thousands marched at events across Canada last week, and that is good. And every year, people are impacted and inspired by the March to continue making a difference. That inspiration is a natural effect of the March. But we need to resolve to turn that inspiration into effective and regular action.

Because it’s not enough for tens of thousands to march. It’s not enough to have the largest gathering on Parliament Hill. It’s not enough until each one of the marchers become actively involved AND actively involve others.

What do I mean by actively involved? I don’t mean merely attending events. Attending pro-life events as a passive participant is insufficient; we need to be involved in the active mission of the movement.

1094735_10204669195348244_9006174920356542384_oAre we doing something – whether it’s from an educational, pastoral, cultural or political angle – that is changing hearts and minds and shifting the public consensus?

This action could be through organizations, through campaigns, through meetings and letters to your MP, through how you’re raising your family, through how you’re speaking up in conversations with coworkers and friends – the list goes on.

This is what is going to make our movement start to move. This is what builds a cultural juggernaut that obliterates the political talking points that (repeatedly) proclaim that the abortion debate is closed and/or that this is a woman’s right.

Our social movement is addressing an injustice that does more than discriminate or oppress Canadians – abortion kills.

angelaSo do our own lives and actions reinforce or undermine the pro-life message?

Do our commitments of time, energy and resources communicate to our communities that we are serious about the pro-life cause, that this is an injustice that needs to be addressed with urgency? Do we speak and act as though this issue – that of 300 pre-born children killed daily – is like any other charity…or do we treat it like the emergency it is?

If we aren’t living this way, if our pro-life commitment is largely based on one event a year, then no wonder our politicians don’t take us seriously. If we aren’t living this way, then our fellow Canadians won’t take us seriously either.

Social transformation requires us to have more than pro-life convictions, but also a pro-life lifestyle. And when tens of thousands of Canadians take up that lifestyle of active commitment, then we will hold captive the attention of politicians and, shortly thereafter, the March can become the celebration of a victory rather than the protest of an ongoing injustice.

For the sake of the lives we march for, we should all be sick of marching – but that shouldn’t discourage us. Instead, it should serve as a springboard into a lifestyle of committed action. Then, soon enough, we’ll be in Ottawa to admire the tulips rather than to protest an injustice.
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If you’d like to join our mailing list to receive updates on ways you can get actively involved in reaching campuses and Canadians this summer, send us an e-mail.

Not everyone can work full-time on the front lines of the movement, but you can support this necessary work. Click here to donate to NCLN, making it possible for us to continue reaching campuses and changing Canada. 

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uOttawa Students For Life: Great New Videos and Links!

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

From the 2012 March for Life:

Did you know Canada has no abortion laws? If you’re wondering what you can do about that, check out WeNeedALaw.
We need to ask the question: When Am I Human? These two sites are full of useful information for taking action!

This American video, similar to the poster on the right, reminds us that it is a matter of when, not if, we end this injustice:


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

Pro-Life Rally in Victoria to “Speak for Life”

Pro-Life Rally in Victoria to “Speak for Life.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On May 10th, Pro-Life British Columbians from across the province will march to the Legislature in the 5th Annual March for Life in Victoria.  With the abortion issue receiving such prominent attention in the media lately, organizers expect a large turnout this year.  This year’s theme, “SPEAK UP FOR LIFE,” challenges all British Columbians to raise their voice for the protection of the lives of the unborn.

Recent news stories about gender selection abortion and designer babies, and the current Parliamentary Motion calling for a committee to review the Criminal Code’s definition of a human being, have all drawn much needed attention to this issue. “The attention these issues have received, and polling data results, clearly show that Canadians are concerned by the complete lack of restrictions on abortion,” said March for Life media spokesperson, Anastasia Pearse.

“Our intention here today is to peacefully and prayerfully bring attention to the victims of abortion in our province,” she added. “We want to raise awareness and ask people to think before they choose abortion. They need to know the facts and be fully informed of all of the risks before they make these life changing decisions.”

The March for Life is organized to be a celebration of lives saved as well as a commemoration of lives lost. In BC, despite a severe lack of transparency in abortion record keeping, it is estimated that over 14,000 abortions are performed every year. “As tax-paying citizens, our money is being used to fund these abortions,” states Pearse. “We are marching today to speak out against this atrocity, to speak up for those 14,000 British Columbians who never had the chance to speak for themselves. We cannot remain silent when so many lives are at stake.”

This year’s March for Life is part of a national day of marches across the country. The BC March is co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus BC & Yukon State and Campaign Life Coalition British Columbia. The March begins at 2:00pm in Centennial Square.

For more information, contact:

 

Anastasia Pearse,

March for Life Media Relations

westerncanada@ncln.ca

604-365-3484

 

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March for Life 2012

Tomorrow, tens of thousands of pro-lifers from across Canada will march for life, assembling at their provincial and national legislatures in protest of the injustice of abortion. NCLN and its students will be at many of these events.

There were over 15,000 gathered at last year’s National March for Life in Ottawa, and NCLN hopes to see even more at this year’s event. You can find the NCLN group on the right lawn – look for our banner or that of uOttawa Students for Life! After the March there are many other events to be involved in. NCLN is hosting our annual student dinner, which is SOLD OUT! If you didn’t get a ticket this year, don’t worry, there is always next year! Executive Director, Rebecca Richmond is also speaking to hundreds of students at the youth conference on Friday.

If you are unable to attend the National March, there are regional Marches across the country that may be closer to home for you. Visit Campaign Life Coalition to find out where the March for Life is taking place in your community.

NCLN will also have a presence in two other locations. Sara Hall, as the Maritime Campus Coordinator, will be in Halifax to speak at their March, and at the other end of the country, Anastasia, our Western Campus Coordinator, will be speaking to the crowds at the March for Life in Victoria, BC. If you can find us at any of these three locations come say “Hi” – we would love to meet you!

http://www.campaignlifecoalition.com/index.php?p=Regional_marches

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uOttawa Students For Life: National March for Life: May 10, 2012

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

Be there:

If you would like to march with us, we will be meeting at noon on Parliament Hill on the right lawn (in front of East Block) by the Centennial flame. Watch for our big banner!

The full schedule of events is available here.

Also, hurry up and buy your tickets for the NCLN dinner.

And for budding videographers:


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

Youth Protecting Youth: In Our Lifetime

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyvicepresident. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

On Thursday May 12, 2011, large crowds gathered in various cities across Canada, united by a common message: we wish to see all human beings treated with respect and dignity. All human beings are valuable, regardless of age or race or gender or creed, regardless of relative levels of development or ability, regardless of what they have or haven’t done. A person’s a person, no matter how small or young or old or ill or different from ourselves. The theme at the march in Ottawa put it very bluntly: abortion kills human beings. This is a biological fact, and this is a reality we cannot sit back and do nothing about.

In Victoria, participants made their way from City Hall to the lawn of the BC legislature. Organizers reported a record turnout. There were many enthusiastic high school and university students; there were families; there were tiny babies (born and unborn) being carried along; and there were older people who have seen the pro-life movement grow and develop for many years. There was an atmosphere of hope.

At the lawn, MC Pavel Reid challenged participants to work to bring an end to the injustice of abortion in our lifetime. Archbishop Miller, of Vancouver, spoke of truth. We must always speak the truth in love, and be ready to engage with people persuasively. The truth must not be hidden. Injustice must not be ignored. We must be ready to give an account of why human life needs to be protected. We must educate ourselves, and go on to educate our world.

International pro-life speaker Rebecca Kiessling shared her personal story. She spoke of learning, at eighteen, that she was conceived in rape, and that had abortion been legal at the time, her birth mother would have aborted her. Her testimony was powerful, and gave voice to the fact that those who are aborted are people. There are many missing from our generation, not because they never existed, but because they were killed before even being born. Saying you believe in abortion in cases of rape, Rebecca tells people, is like looking her in the eye and saying you think that her mother had the right to kill her. She was once a fetus in danger of being aborted – now she speaks for those who cannot yet speak for themselves.

Kathereen Kessler, of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, also shared her testimony. In her case, it was the story of the effect that having an abortion had on her life. She shares her story because she deeply regrets her abortion, which she came to recognize as the loss of her child. She is courageous enough to share her story of pain and healing – to be silent no more – because she hopes to spare others similar pain and regret.

Dr. Rev. Robert Fitterer, of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Victoria, spoke of the power of technology and social media in spreading the truth. The face of communication is changing. We can see the unborn more and more clearly through medical technology, and we can see the efforts of those in the pro-life movement across Canada and around the world, whether or not they are reported in the mainstream media. Most importantly, perhaps, he reminded us that the March for Life cannot be the end of our pro-life efforts for the year. If anything, it’s the beginning. It is our duty to defend life not just one day a year, but every single day. This is a challenge, and a difficult one to live up to, but isn’t it what we owe our fellow human beings? If we take up this challenge, if we come to the defense of the defenseless wherever we see human beings denied their dignity, I believe we will see an end to abortion and other affronts to human dignity in our lifetime.


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.