As a student at the University of Ottawa, Billie saw pro-life messages in chalk on her campus for the first time a couple of years ago. This is her story:
“I used to be a radical pro-choicer
because that was my peer group and the rhetoric I heard from a young age.
A couple years ago, I was walking out of the cafeteria [at the University] and I saw the statistic about Down’s syndrome children being aborted. It was the first thing I saw. I saw it a couple times and tried not to think about it. After the third time, I let myself think about it and was angry. It must not be true.
I was angry at the pro-life club for chalking the messages but I didn’t know why I was angry.
I looked it up on the computer and found very official statistics that confirmed it was true. I was heartbroken because I’ve worked with special needs kids all my life – by choice. They’re already underestimated and discriminated against as it is.
Learning that fact and learning it was true was the catalyst to researching the issue more from both sides.
It took about 6 months before I called myself pro-life.
The more I read the more I learned I had been on the wrong side. I had to admit I was wrong.”
Billie is now involved with uOttawa Students for Life, chalking these same messages on campus. Students across Canada shared the pro-life message through the Chalktober Campus Outreach Campaign this month. Photos to come!
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join Life Choice, the pro-life club at the University of Guelph, in a flag display on campus. A total of 10,000 pink and blue flags, each representing 10 of the 100,000 abortions that happen in our country each year, were displayed in the middle of campus.
Not only is this display a powerful witness, but so is the amazing efforts of the pro-life students who kept guard of their event over 36hrs in advancein order to put on the display! As the Campus Coordinator for Ontario campuses, I had the privilege of joining these students and witnessed their dedication first hand, gaining an in-depth look at the challenges they faced and overcame, supporting them throughout the event.
On Thanksgiving Monday club memberscamped out (tent and all) on their campus in order to secure the cannon for Wednesday’s event. The cannon is a unique fixture to Guelph that students can paint. The one simple cannon law: it can only be painted at night. But in order to ensure they could paint the cannon Tuesday night, the students stood guard by it for over a day in advance!
Late Tuesday evening they placed the flags, and painted the school cannon by the display.
On Wednesday students spent the day engaging in thoughtful dialogue with their fellow students about the lack of abortion law in Canada.
These students did all this, despite having assignments, midterms, and classes.
This display elicited a variety of emotions from people; many of whom were hurting from having experience or involvement with abortions themselves. Some responded by defacing the cannon. Others attempted to sabotage the display, throwing coat hangers and pro-choice signs into the flag display. All of these acts were further proof to me of the critical need for this message on campus. For, sadly, university students are the demographic most vulnerable to abortion.
I spoke to one young man who was very upset, stating, “You people are terrible. This [display] is just wrong.” After telling him that I’d be happy to talk to him and hear why he thought this, he went on to say that sometimes “there is no other choice” than abortion. We spent a couple of minutes in respectful discussion. He shared that he had his own personal experience with abortion; his hurt was evident as he said it was one of the most difficult things he had to do. I thanked him for sharing with me, and although we essentially disagreed on the humanity of the preborn child and their equal
right to life, I am certain he saw that I valued our conversation and him as a human being. What started off as an angry conversation on his end, ended in a calm and respectful manner as he matched my attitude towards him.
The many fruits of this day are by no means captured in this one post. Many conversations were had, dozens of resources were distributed, club members were encouraged and moved by the support they received, and many more people at the University of Guelph have now seen the magnitude of abortion in our country.
The students of Life Choice, and the many other pro-life student activists NCLN supports, are making sacrifices every day to defend the lives of preborn children and affirm the value of every human life (although few have gone to the extent of camping in a tent, as did these students!) Why do they make these sacrifices?
Because they know that human rights are for all human beings, and both the mother and her preborn child deserve better than abortion.
If you’re interested in having this flag display on your campus, click here!
ANTI-ABORTION GROUP AT RYERSON FILES LAWSUIT OVER ILLEGAL DISCRIMINATION
October 14, 2015. TORONTO, ON— Pro-life students at Ryerson University have filed a lawsuit against the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) over denying their club, Students for Life at Ryerson (SFLR), status.
On February 23rd, 2015, the RSU Board of Directors unanimously voted that SFLR would not be allowed to form a pro-life club. This vote marked the last step in an appeal process that began in the fall semester after SFLR was rejected by the Student Groups Committee on the basis that the RSU, “opposes…groups, meetings, or events that promote misogynist views towards woman [sic] and ideologies that promote gender inequity, challenges women’s right [sic] to bodily autonomy, or justifies [sic] sexual assault”.
“Our club stands for human rights for all human beings, including those at the earliest stages of life. We also want to support pregnant students on campus who want alternatives to abortion,” states Carter Grant, a third year business major and Vice-President of SFLR.
Pro-life students at Ryerson were first denied club status back in 2003. Now students are taking the decision to court to assert their right to be treated fairly by their student union, and to not be discriminated against on the basis of their pro-life viewpoint.
What is happening at Ryerson is not an isolated event. Pro-life students across the country have faced similar censorship at other institutions, including at the University of Victoria, University of Calgary, York University, Carleton University, Trent University, Lakehead University, and Capilano College.
As a strong advocate for freedom of expression, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) strongly opposes these acts of discrimination and is assisting the students with this case. CCBR’s new legal department, CCBR Legal, has retained experienced constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson to defend the students. Ms. Crosson says that, “pro-life students have been denied rights on campuses long enough. This is the time to end this battle and enshrine students’ rights on campus.”
Through CCBR Legal, CCBR provides legal representation for those in the pro-life movement. As history as shown, legal representation is an integral part of successful social movements. The law protects the right for pro-life individuals to share their message on the same basis as others and CCBR Legal is determined to protect this right.
Last week NCLN and Advokate joined efforts to co-host our final BC Summer Semester event: training in how to engage others in open, loving conversation, followed by Clipboarding combined with Student Life Chain. Through our combined efforts, over 40 participants were able to lovingly share the pro-life message with the local community in Abbotsford, showing them that every life is worth living.
Our volunteers were primarily composed of high school students in grades 10-12. Most of them were decked out in purple shirts, with the name of their affiliate organization, Gospel Roads, plastered on their backs. These youth joined our event as part of their social justice retreat; the retreat was geared towards helping high school students serve their local community while raising awareness about various social injustices. The students were excited for the opportunity to put their passion for social justice into action as they showed the Abbotsford community that pre-born humans have rights as well!
“Whom you would change, you must first love. And they must know that you love them.”
To help prepare the youth for engaging the community, Joanna, NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator, presented about the need to speak out in truth and love, sharing the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Whom you would change, you must first love. And they must know that you love them.” She shared personal stories of how conveying the pro-life message with a loving, gentle approach is the most effective way to engage our culture. She provided tangible ways the students could put their passion and convictions into action, encouraging them to do all they can to share the truth. As St. Augustine of Hippo said “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
The participants then spent a fruitful hour of activism on the street. Most held Life Chain signs, conveying the messages that “Abortion Hurts Women” and “You’ll never regret loving this much.” Those who more directly engaged passersby through clipboarding carried themselves with great compassion, empathy and courage; they listened patiently to those they were conversing with and responded in a gentle, loving manner, acting as great ambassadors of the message of truth and love. Their enthusiasm bubbled over from their wide smiles and shining eyes and their joy was contagious.
After the event, every single participant enthusiastically said that they would do this again. Educating our minds with pro-life arguments matters, but ultimately, it is love that wins people over. In the words of Maya Angelou,
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Join in community pro-life activities (postcarding, Choice Chain, and events run by your local pro-life society! Use the summer as an opportunity to reach out to these local groups and explore what they have to offer!).
Run a clipboarding event with your friends (it’s easy and – almost – free!) with friends.
Give an appeal at your church or have a bake-sale with friends to fundraise money for your club this fall (money to help you attend the NCLN Symposium? hint hint. Applications open at the end of June.).
Being involved now will:
Give you more experience in outreach, giving you more confidence and expertise to bring back to your campus in the fall.
Help keep pro-life activism as a regular part of your life.The summer shouldn’t change whether or not we’re active as pro-lifers, just where and with whom and how we’re active. Pro-life should be a lifestyle.
3) Connect with your club
Stay in touch over the summer. Start a private FB group for your club members and post updates on the Pro-Life movement, as well as updates about your life, jobs, stories about sharing the pro-life message. Keeping up to date with your club members now will help you work better as a team in the fall!
If you’re in the same geographical area, plan a meeting and social soon for your club members! Debrief from the past year, if you haven’t already, and share hopes and goals for the next year. Plan some ways to be active this summer (see number 2).
Plan a minimum of one meeting/month this summer to help you get the ball rolling for the fall. Even if you don’t live in the same city, you can still connect via Skype or Google Hangouts!
4) Expand your knowledge base.
CCBR’s Pro-Life Classroom has must-read/watch resources, broken down into bite-sized pieces. And consider adding a few books to your summer reading list to help you grow as a leader and as a pro-lifer.
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.
These words, taken from the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, are so contradictory to the unrestricted access to abortion in our country. How can this be? More people like you need to speak up for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Today is National Child Day in Canada. Challenge yourself to speak to at least one person today about the need for our country to protect the youngest of our kind. For it is only in sharing the truth in our words and actions that we can hope to bring light where there is darkness.
Written by Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator
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!