Recap: 2015 NCLN Symposium: Without Exception

Written by Anastasia Pearse, Executive Director

Words cannot express how grateful we are to all the students who joined us over the weekend for our Annual Symposium! We are so incredibly impressed with your energy, enthusiasm, conviction, and commitment to speaking up about this injustice in our country, without exception. Wear your t-shirts with pride and keep the momentum up from the weekend! Know that your passion is contagious, and necessary in order to sustain the Pro-Life Student Movement on our campuses!

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For those who could not attend the symposium, below are some highlights from our speakers!

 

Without Exception: Anastasia Pearse
  • As pro-lifers we know that there are no exceptions when it comes to saving innocent human beings.
  • There are no exceptions when it comes to showing love to all human beings.
  • We must be willing to live a pro-life lifestyle, without exception.
  • As pro-life students on your campus you are: present, you are peers, and therefore you are powerful.
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Talking to the Victims of the Sexual Revolution: Jonathon VanMaren
  • We need to understand the culture around us to most effectively reach them with the pro-life message
  • We are talking to a culture of that sees human beings as a commodity.
  • What does pornography have to do with abortion? It perpetuates the idea that humans can be used.  Objectification of humans leads to dehumanization, which leads to victimization. We have a society whose acts have lead to commodification of the human body.
Talking to Those Who are Ignorant: Josh Canning
  • Three keys to speaking to the ignorant:
    1. Show compassion for their concerns about abortion. Usually a person’s good intentions are involved.
    2. Tell stories. It allows you to empathize together about the persons involved in the story.
    3. Ask questions – get to know their opinion and what they do know.
  • We must develop a heart that is as big as that of those we talk to, but then bigger.
Talking to Those Who are Complacent and Apathetic: Daniel Gilman
  • If we’re complacent we’re empowering a system that slaughters babies.
  • Being pro-life is not a charitable cause. It is an emergency.
  • We need to show the complacent the hope found in action.
  • Give them immediate opportunities to take action!
  • The only reason we’ve had horrific genocides is because good people are doing nothing to stop it.
Effective Conversations: How to Win Hearts and Rescue Children from Abortion: Devorah Gilman, CCBR
  • 3 Goals in pro-life conversations: understand, love & inspire.
  • We live in a society where parents are legally responsible for the ordinary care of their children. What about the preborn?
  • Truth without love is ineffective. And love without truth is a lie.
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  • Ask 4 questions to show that abortion is a human rights violation in any conversation:
    1. Do you believe in human rights? Who gets human rights?
    2. If two human beings reproduce, what will their offspring be?
    3. If something is growing, isn’t it alive?
    4. Doesn’t it logically follow that abortion is a human rights violation because it kills an innocent human?
  • In any difficult circumstance thought to justify abortion, the person you’re speaking to needs to know you care.
  • Steps to effective conversations:
    1. Find common ground.
    2. Use analogies
    3. Ask questions.
  • We must learn to show the truth rather than tell. Show, don’t tell.
Recruiting Your Team: Anastasia Pearse, NCLN
  • Successful recruitment is the result of effective outreach and sustained relationships.
  • Who are two people you can think of right now that you can make a prolife impact on?
  • Too often we focus on impacting “society”, rather than those around us. One person at a time, we can change the world.
  • Avoid the exhausting event syndrome and keep it simple! REV up your campus with Regular, Engaging and Visible activism!
Leading Yourself: Rebecca Richmond, NCLN
  • The only cure for a selfish culture is a culture of selfless individuals.
  • Is what is holding us back from doing activism more important than the message we are trying to share?
  • Your club is more than weekly meetings and activities. Your club is a movement.
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Euthanasia: The Key Issues and Argument: Fr. Kevin Belgrave, St. Augustine’s Seminary
  • The ultimate solution to euthanasia is a renewal of relationship between us and those who are suffering.
  • Euthanasia isn’t about killing pain, – doctors already do that – it’s about killing patients.
  • Euthanasia creates a “duty to die” – people feel coerced to choose to die to let their family carry on.
  • When suffering people want to die because they feel they are a burden, that is a sign that we are not doing enough to support them.
Top 10 Ways to Sustain  Yourself and  Your Team: Clay Imoo, Archdiocese of Vancouver
  • Sustaining yourself and your team is vital for long-term success, avoiding burnout, and growth
  • Give your team members some TLC: Training, Leadership, and Care.
  • Who we are communicates far more eloquently than what we say or do.
  • Ways to keep your team members: build relationships, meet regularly, know what motivates them! Let them know they are making a difference
  • Ways to keep your team members: affirm them, give them a variety of responsibilities, encourage risks, encourage them to grow.
  • Relationships are vital to your ministry. Make them a priority!
  • Clarify expectations: what do you expect from your team? What do they expect from you?
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To see more photos from the Symposium, visit our National Campus Life Network facebook page!
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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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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.

Successful Debate @ SFU

Last night, SFU Lifeline and SFU Health Ethics Club hosted a public debate on Simon Fraser University campus: “Should Abortion Be Legal“?

About 125 students and guests attended to hear Stephanie Gray, on behalf of the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, present the pro-life position and Umer Altaf, President of the SFU Debate Society, present the pro-choice position.

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Appealing to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Stephanie claimed that abortion should be illegal, since the pre-born are human beings, and ending an innocent human being’s life would be a violation of their human right to life.

Umer based his argument on what he claimed were three logical conclusions: something receives our moral consideration in the face of termination if it can feel pain, if it will be missed by loved ones, and if they have wants and dreams that won’t be realized if their life is taken. When the pre-born can’t feel pain, will not be missed and does not have dreams to be realized, the pre-born are not worthy of our moral consideration and thus abortion should be legal.

Stephanie and Umer debated the implications of making abortion illegal, also weighing the effects that abortion and pregnancy have on women. Umer claimed that there are different levels of suffering, and abortion alleviates some of the suffering that a woman would face in a crisis pregnancy. Stephanie proposed that a civil society should certainly alleviate suffering, but not eliminate sufferers.

Students were able to ask questions during the final session of the debate, and the open discussion continued well after the debate officially ended.

Who won the debate? Stay tuned for a video of the full debate online. We’ll let you decide.

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