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True Patriot Love

This reflection was originally posted July 2014 by Rebecca Richmond, NCLN’s past Executive Director

True patriot love.

We sing the words in our anthem, yet the word ‘patriot’ rarely seems to enter our vocabulary (unless we’re referring to Americans, of course). But in a society that has euthanasia knocking down the door and fully funds abortion-on-demand, true patriot love is sorely needed.

A few weeks ago, in the $1.00 book bin outside a secondhand book shop, I picked up a book bearing that title: “True Patriot Love,” written by Michael Ignatieff while he was the leader of the Liberal Party. Flipping through the pages, I realized I prefer his prose to his politics.

“People love their country despite a lot of things,” Ignatieff writes. “They love it because they haven’t given up on it. They love it because of its unrealized possibilities. We love our country not because we think it is perfect or even satisfactory, but because we think it can change for the better….We never love a country just for what it is. We love it for what it might yet become. The same is true for the love we bear ourselves. Love is always rooted in hope.” (10)

Growing up, I had a bit of a hope deficiency myself. My deep sense of civic responsibility somehow co-existed with a profound cynicism. I was strongly against abortion but it seemed an insurmountable injustice, and I was just a kid so what was I to do? I thought I loved my country, but in some respects I had given up on it. Perhaps many of us have.

True Patriot Blog memeBut to give up on Canada is to give up on the Canadian men and women, suffering in the aftermath of their abortions. To give up on Canada is to give up on the preborn children who perished from abortion. To give up on Canada is to give up on all the vulnerable who will perish if we aren’t willing to stand on guard for them. To give up on Canada is to give up on all that it could become: a society that truly values and respects each and every human being.

Canada is not a good in and of itself, but a project begun by the Fathers of Confederation in pursuit of a common good for the people under their care. But present injustices violate the common good in profound and disturbing ways, setting before us steep challenges. At every level of government, within civic society, and especially within our own families and communities, we must take up the project and strive towards the Canada that should be, the Canada that will respect and protect each and every human being.

This necessarily includes our work on campuses. Our universities not only contain the age demographic most vulnerable to undergoing abortions, but also are responsible for forming and shaping young leaders who, in turn, shape the culture and the policies of our nation. To move our nation we must first move our own wounded generation from a place of apathy to one of action. We need a generation of patriots.

For, according to Michael Ignatieff, “Patriotism is the sentiment that makes a people demand reform, change and improvement in their country; patriotism is the source of the impatience and anger that makes abuses intolerable, injustice unacceptable and complacency a delusion.”

Yet, Ignatieff was supportive of abortion as a ‘right’, having forgotten to include the need for a true patriot love, one that is rooted in the truth of human life, not merely the politically acceptable.

On July 1st, [149] years ago, the Fathers of Confederation became nation builders.  It’s time for our generation to continue the project of Canada, for our true patriot love compels us to stand on guard for our nation and for each other.

(1) Michael Ignatieff, True Patriot Love: Four Generations in Search of Canada (Toronto: Penguin Group, Viking Canada, 2009), 10.
(2) Ignatieff, 176.

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Symposium Speaker Interview: Maaike Rosendal!

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Maaike Rosendal is a lovely lady that everyone needs to meet. Married to Nick Rosendal, they have two of the cutest boys you could ever see and a new baby girl (!!!). Just as she is patient and compassionate with her own children, she communicates to people on campus with a listening heart and a gentle voice while powerfully bringing the pro-life message to the people of Canada. As Campus Outreach Director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), Maaike has been influential in changing campus culture across the nation. We are so excited that she will be speaking at the Symposium this fall because now you CAN meet her. We asked her some questions so you can become just as excited as us.

1. Can you pinpoint an event or time in your life when you became extensively involved in the Pro-Life Movement? What convicted you?

It’s hard to think of something in particular since I was raised in an actively pro-life home, but there are two events that stand out for me. The first one was a silent pro-life demonstration which I attended as a teenager, outside of the Parliament buildings in the Hague in my native country of the Netherlands. I remember looking at the crowd around me and thinking, “What if we all stood up for life, every single day?” The second was a prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic, which I went to with my dad and sisters. The commitment of the few doing outreach there and the steady stream of women entering and leaving the clinic left me shaken and more resolved to do whatever I could to stop abortion.

2. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned working for CCBR?

I’ve truly learned the meaning of the saying by Augustine: “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” My amazing colleagues and I have seen that when either one of those two components are missing, we are out of balance and things soon go wrong. On the flip side, when we do everything in our power to make a difference while realizing that we are entirely dependent on God and His blessing on our work, amazing things start to happen. It’s a lesson I need to be reminded of on a regular basis!

3. What is the most inspiring conversation you’ve had while talking to a pro-choice student on campus?

The most inspiring conversation I’ve had took place while doing the Genocide Awareness Project(GAP) at the University of Lethbridge. I stood in front of a large display with abortion victim photography when a female student walked past. I asked her what she thought about abortion and she responded angrily, “I will suck a fetus out of my uterus if I want to!” We engaged in discussion about what the pre-born really are. 15 minutes later she said, “Okay, you’ve convinced me that embryos and fetuses are human beings, but why should they have more rights than adult women?” When she had to go, I thanked her for taking the time to talk. She said, “I came here expecting to be yelled at by a bunch of bigots with terrible pictures. Instead, you guys listened and explained humanity and personhood.” And after a long pause: “I’m not sure I can accept the implications yet because that would make me pro-life, but really appreciate the discussion.” It’s humbling, exciting, and inspiring to be part of a change like that!

4. What is your favourite thing to do on a family outing?

We are privileged to have a large conservation area close to our house; Nick and I love to go there with our kids to walk, bike, or picnic, and still plan to camp by the river at some point. One of the things I enjoy the most about it is discovering nature through the eyes of a child; it’s a beautiful experience!

5. Why are you excited to speak at the Symposium?

If you’re a pro-life student wanting to make a difference on your campus, the NCLN Symposium is without a doubt the best place to start. In 2008, attending the Symposium provided me with skills, knowledge, confidence, and connections that helped me run our campus club and engage with fellow students about abortion. I’m excited to now return to the Symposium as a speaker for the second year in a row to provide attendees with pro-life apologetics and practical tips and, of course, to have a good time together!

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NCLN Symposium Story: Raymond Kobes!

527861_10150842195432671_1921472282_nAttended Symposium 2013
Student at University of the Fraser Valley

In my first semester at the University of the Fraser Valley I joined UFV Lifelink. Shortly after joining the club I was given the opportunity to go to Toronto to learn more about pro-life, all travel expenses covered by Abbotsford Right to Life. I couldn’t believe it, and as soon I was at the Symposium, I was completely immersed in all things pro-life. I got the chance to network with students from across the country and made some great friends. It was the busiest and most informative weekend of my life. My approach and attitude towards pro-life changed that weekend and I became very involved in our club. Within four months our group structure shifted and I had become Vice President. I felt more equipped in large part due to the training and resources I received at the Symposium. Now as I begin my first year as President I am encouraging club members to challenge themselves and attend the 2014 Symposium.

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Speaker Feature: Devorah Gilman!

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Devorah speaking to to the public about abortion. (Right next to a pro-choice protestor!)

We are very excited to have Devorah Gilman join us as a speaker this year at the Symposium! Who better to give a talk entitled “Winning More Than Arguments” than someone who is engaging with her peers on the abortion issue almost every day? Devorah works full-time for The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and has had thousands of conversations about abortion on campuses and city streets across the continent! To give you an idea about this incredible lady, we asked her a few questions:

1. How did you first get involved in the Pro-Life Movement?

In my early teens I saw pictures of abortion victims and was convicted that I must do something to stop this injustice. From then on I volunteered for and attended various pro-life events, including helping out with OttawaU Students for Life.

2. What is your favourite project to do with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and why?

My favorite project to do with CCBR is the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP). The reasons being: 1. It profoundly impacts those who encounter it resulting in numerous changed hearts and minds. 2. Nothing else I have ever encountered so quickly equips people to be competent, compassionate and confident pro-life ambassadors. 3. The first two points sum up the main reasons. I just wanted a third point because I like having three points.

3. What is your favourite quote? How does it apply to your life?

”I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” — Martin Luther King Jr. This quote is encouraging and inspiring because it is true.

4. If you were a cloud, which type would you be?

I am a Cumulus cloud. I know this because I looked at a bunch of pictures of clouds and those were my favorite. Then I took one of those online quizzes “What type of cloud are you?” and it confirmed that I indeed am a Cumulus.

5. Why are you excited to be a part of the Symposium?

The Symposium was a game changer for me as a pro-life advocate. The training I received that week equipped me to defend the pre-born and is still useful to me as someone who works full-time in the pro-life movement. It’s an honor to be able to come back to the Symposium and help equip university students from across Canada to effectively defend life on their campuses. The Symposium is also a ton of fun! It’s an incredible opportunity to make friends, exchange ideas and encourage students who have the same passion and vision as you do.

To hear Devorah speak at this year’s Symposium, along with a great lineup of other amazing speakers, apply today! 

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Apply Online Today!

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True patriot love.

We sing the words in our anthem, yet the word ‘patriot’ rarely seems to enter our vocabulary (unless we’re referring to Americans, of course). But in a society that has euthanasia knocking down the door and fully funds abortion-on-demand, true patriot love is sorely needed.

If we want to end abortion in Canada and build a Culture of Life, we need to start by transforming our own campuses. Our universities not only contain the age demographic most vulnerable to undergoing abortions, but also are responsible for forming and shaping young leaders who, in turn, shape the culture and the policies of our nation. To move our nation we must first must move our own wounded generation from a place of apathy to one of action.

We need a generation of patriots.

The Symposium is an intensive pro-life leadership training program, designed to equip and empower students to respond to and engage with the challenges of the university environment.

The program includes:

  • Training from the experts on the issues and effective campus strategies;
  • Skill development through interactive sessions and workshops;
  • Leadership formation;
  • Networking with student leaders from across Canada as well as leading members of the Pro-Life Movement.

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For regular updates, check out our Facebook event.

Location: Toronto, ON
Date: Friday September 26 , 2:30pm – Sunday September 28th, 1:00pm
The weekend includes overnight accommodations for Friday and Saturday night as well as meals.


  If your organization is interested in sponsoring this year’s Symposium,

please contact our Central Coordinator, Clarissa at central@ncln.ca for more information!

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