Censorship Remains Unchecked at Laurier

A Response to the Letter from the LSU President

By Josh MacMillan, NCLN Campus Coordinator

On October 20, 10,000 pink and blue flags were set up by the pro-life club at Laurier campus, representing the 100,000 abortions that happen every year in Canada. The display was torn down by protestors. (Photo: R. Harlaar)

Good luck holding an unpopular opinion at Wilfred Laurier University (WLU), because according to the Laurier Student Union (LSU), you will get no protection.

LSU President Tyler Van Herzele, an elected representative of the student body who “works with key university and community personnel to advocate on behalf of all undergraduate students,” recently set a precedent that completely sidelines them.

In an open letter dated December 7, 2016, Van Herzele made a statement about an event held by the pro-life club, Laurier Lifelink in October. The club had hosted the WeNeedaLaw.ca flag display, comprised of 10,000 small pink and blue flags, each representing 10 abortions that happen each year in Canada. The event is meant to inform students about the facts about abortion in Canada and start a discussion on it. Half-way through the day, the display was destroyed by protestors.

The event was approved by the LSU. The space was properly booked. Everything was in order according to the LSU and LifeLink President Stephanie Breukelman. Yet, in light of the complaints and destructive action on the part of some members of the WLU Community, LSU automatically places the blame on the pro-life club and does not give them a fair hearing. The LSU plainly refuses to acknowledge that LifeLink has had their rights to free speech trampled upon, and was treated unjustly, regardless of the content of the display.

In the letter, Van Herzele states that “discussion of controversial issues should [not] be avoided” on the Laurier campus, and that the LSU “remain[s] dedicated to supporting the fundamental freedoms all Canadians share, including the ability to openly express opinions and beliefs.” Yet, in the same breath, he blames LifeLink for creating an “adversarial tone” which “evoked a confrontation which eliminated the possibility of respectful dialogue and created an unsafe environment for all students.”

This “adversarial tone” was simply a visualization of facts and the promotion of healthy discussion between students about these facts. It was, in fact, the protesting students who tore down the display and who “eliminated the possibility of respectful dialogue” and “created an unsafe environment.” Where is this so-called “dedication” to free speech? Obviously at LSU, there is none for pro-life students.

Van Herzele has made it ominously clear that this kind of treatment is not over. “We are working… to ensure this does not happen again…[by] revising several clubs policies to ensure future events, particularly those engaging in controversial or polarizing topics, respect the multitude of personal experiences and perspectives on campus.” What does this mean? By uttering not a word to defend the pro-life students from the unjust actions of mobs (simply because they are challenging students to think about “controversial issues”), it makes it very clear that Van Herzele does not have the best interests of all students in mind, but instead believes that mob rule silencing minority and unpopular opinions is justified and should be defended.

It is clear from this letter that LSU and its President are opposed to free speech and are not taking any action to defend free speech. Laurier LifeLink was told in a meeting the “concerns expressed by the Laurier community members were discussed and clear expectations were set for any future events.” Yet, the protestors who tore down the display were not told that what they did was unacceptable, nor were any expectations set for conduct at WLU that does not censor the free expression of others. Until a statement is issued to the contrary, it is clear that the LSU does not encourage “intellectual and social inquiry,” nor is dedicated to “valuing the existence of a variety of viewpoints and opinions.”

We encourage you to demand that the LSU Board and its President, Van Herzele, make clear to the WLU community that mob censorship is not acceptable on a University Campus and that they uphold the right of Laurier LifeLink to host events just like any other clubs, without fear of censorship for expressing what may be an unpopular belief.  You can contact the LSU by filling out the Customer Service and Satisfaction Policy Feedback Form, located to the right of the letter linked here, or by contacting Van Herzele directly at:

Tyler Van Herzele
supresident@wlu.ca
519.884.0710 x 3409

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Introducing our NCLN Summer Intern, Maria McCann!

We at NCLN are so excited to have Maria McCann join us this summer as an intern at our Toronto office! She will begin her 4th year of her undergraduate degree this summer at Western University in London, Ontario (UWO). She is studying English Literature, French, and Italian. She is passionate about Shakespeare, science fiction, coffee, and every breed of dog known to man. Of course, she is also passionate about justice; in particular, she wants to see the injustice of abortion end in her lifetime.

Maria and her brother, John-Paul
Maria and her brother, John-Paul

Tell us your story and how you became pro-life.

My “pro-life story” began years ago with the birth of my little brother, John-Paul. He was born very prematurely, which caused him to have brain damage and numerous ensuing disabilities. He faces many challenges in his everyday life, as he navigates a world designed for the able-bodied. In spite of (or perhaps because of) his difficulties, he lives every day with an enviable joy.

He has truly taught me that life does not have to be perfect in order to be beautiful.

His very existence challenges the culture of death: a culture that says he should have been aborted before birth…a culture that now suggests that even born people like him are perhaps better off dead than disabled. For all of my childhood and adolescence, I understood the pro-life movement as important for protecting the rights of John-Paul and of other vulnerable people.

How did you get involved in your campus pro-life club?

Near the end of my second year of undergrad, some gentle nudges by the Holy Spirit led me to joining the executive team for Western Lifeline, the pro-life club of UWO. In 2015, several of us decided to attend NCLN’s Symposium, a “boot camp” for pro-life students. The weekend conference turned out to be life-changing for me, learning how to talk to people about abortion with both conviction and compassion.

I was deeply moved by their message that, with 100,000 pre-born babies being killed every year through abortion in Canada, this is not a movement. This is an emergency. That sense of urgency motivated me to engage in weekly activism with Western Lifeline. That sense of urgency motivated me to spend my spring break doing pro-life activism through the Genocide Awareness Project. And that sense of urgency has motivated me to join the staff of NCLN as a summer intern.

Why did you decide to spend a summer working with NCLN?

My experiences on campus have led me to believe that NCLN’s mission is crucial, as students are desperately in need of the pro-life message.

Changing our campuses and inspiring youth today will lead to massive changes in the future, when those young people become the leaders of our society.

On a personal note, NCLN has been a huge support for me over the past year in my work with Western Lifeline, and I want to be that kind of support to other student leaders. I am excited for the projects in store for this summer, such as weekly activism doing clipboarding and Choice Chain. I am eager to help develop new materials that will aid students in the coming year.

Where are you most likely to be on the weekends?

On the weekends, you’ll likely find me checking out thrift stores for vintage tops, or used bookstores to feed my reading addiction. If I’m not at a thrift store or bookshop, I’ll be getting coffee and froyo with friends, or watching reruns of Doctor Who.

If you could be any person in history, who would you be?

I have a pretty specific time and location in mind. I’d love to be a modern-art lover in the early 1900s in Paris. It would be the epitome of cool to sit in a parlour chatting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso—the cult figures of literary and artistic modernism. I would basically be their groupie.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would love to spend a summer touring Italy, especially Tuscany. I have been learning Italian for the past couple years and would like to put my learning into practice. The Italian language and culture are so beautiful, and I want to taste some authentic Italian cuisine! It would also be amazing to see Rome, a city steeped in history.

Send Maria a welcome note! Write to us at info@ncln.ca

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As you celebrate…

As you celebrate…

Here’s a playlist to keep you singing and dancing!

Complied by Joanna Krawczynski, Western Campus Coordinator

We’ve got so many reasons to celebrate: Christmas, the New Year, Kathleen and Jesse’s wedding…(T-2 days!) Here at NCLN, celebrations and dance parties always go hand in hand. Always.

To help you get your groove on, here are some sweet tunes that we will have on our playlists as we celebrate with our families and friends.

And – extra bonus! Each song carries a message that we hope you feel that you can be loud and proud about. Please note that while we enjoy these songs, they are still relatively new to us, so if a lyric lets you down, let us know.

It seems that there are only a few songs kicking around these days that have a positive message AND sound good, but we’ve learned that it just takes a little digging to find them. Trust us, and enjoy! All the best for 2016, from all of us at NCLN!

New Years - photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Love Life, John Mamann ft. Kika

This song has a happy tune, pairing well with a beach getaway and lots of friends. Plus it’s in both official languages, so if you’ve been wanting to learn, here’s your chance.

Beautiful, Mali Music

A slower song, sharing the story of a dancer who finally recognizes her true value and beauty, things which go beyond merely the physical.

Amazing Life, Britt Nicole

Super bouncy. This one is for those of us who enjoy techno or remixes!

The Nights, Avicii

Let’s admit it, the wisdom of our parents is worth remembering… and dancing to…

I Lived, One Republic

About living life with all that we’ve got, even when it hurts, but always worth it.

I Feel So Alive, Capital Kings

A pop-y song celebrating a fresh start, one you will easily be singing along to within the first thirty seconds.

This is Living, Hillsong Young & Free ft. Lecrae

Another pop-y sounding song, celebrating the Christian understanding of life in Christ.

Song for My Unborn Son, Sam Martin

If you need to chill out, listen to this. Every time I turn this on, the song gives me happy goosebumps (yes, that’s a thing).

Home, A Guy and A Girl

This song is by our very own Kathleen and her soon-to-be-husband –  keep them in your prayers as you enjoy their sweet song!

P.S. Have your own favorites? Send ‘em over! As the saying goes, sharing is caring…

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Overcoming Excuses


We hope you’ll continue running on your Symposium high (and for those who weren’t there you can read this recap!) But we know that reality hits once you get back to school and other commitments. Read this to get some practical pointers and motivation on how you can overcome excuses!

Written by Rebecca Richmond

Excuses, excuses…we hear them, we accept them, we’re irritated by them, we’re even guilty of making excuses ourselves. When it comes to the excuses to avoid pro-life involvement and campus outreach, we’ve heard them all.

In fact, this post was written in response to a suggestion from a student leader to address the topic of excuses in a blog post!

And whether you’ve heard these from yourselves or your friends or club members, the good news is that they’re normal AND they can be overcome. Here are our answers to the top excuses we’ve heard (or made…):

I need to put the priority on school. I just don’t have enough time.

Yes, yes do. We want you to pass your courses with flying colours and go into the world armed with your brains, your degree, and the heart of a nation-changer.

But even if that is your top priority, hopefully you have other priorities in your life still: your health, family, friends, etc. Students across Canada are also putting a priority on the lives of pre-born children and you can too – without flunking out.

There are sacrifices, to be sure, and the sacrifice of time is a steep one. But often, at least in our experience, the issue is not so much the time, but our time-management.

If we start to evaluate our schedules and consider where we put time and into what, we will likely find that, at least on occasion, what we’re spending time on doesn’t match our convictions. The reality is that we always have time for the things we make time for. If our hours with Netflix outweigh our hours of community service, then maybe we need to consider if our priorities match our convictions.

But you don’t have to manage this all alone. NCLN’s staff want to make your work on campus easier. Our resources, training, and mentoring are designed to do just that. Busy students work with our staff each semester in order to impact their campus – without dropping their GPA. (And we have helpful hints for time management too!)

There aren’t enough club members and I can’t do it all alone, so I just can’t do it this year.

Fact #1: There will probably never be enough club members to do all that needs to be done.

Fact #2: The little you do with a few people accomplishes much more than doing nothing would accomplish.

Fact #3: You’ll never attract members unless you actually do something in the first place.

The general principle is: start where you are with what you have.

And there’s so much that can be accomplished when you do! Contact your NCLN Campus Coordinator to help you find little things that you can do that can still have a big impact. There are projects that require practically no prep or cost, no booking, and as many or as few club members as you have – and yet still has an impact AND can help you recruit new members. We’d love to help you get started on them!

I support the cause but I’m focused on sharing the gospel on campus.

There are many good and important groups and causes that people should give time to. But involvement in one doesn’t mean you can’t support another (most if not all students we work with are in that situation!).

If our opposition to abortion – an act that is daily claiming the lives of Canadian children and is funded by our own tax dollars – does not manifest itself in anything except for an ‘I-support-pro-life-but’ statement, then how much does our conviction mean? This is not a charity, this is an emergency.

Maybe you can’t take on a leadership position within the pro-life club, and maybe the club’s weekly meeting is in conflict with another commitment you already made, but there’s other ways you can be an enormous support to the cause on campus:

-Volunteer at a weekly Outreach Table;
-Participate in clipboarding a couple times a month;
-Use your networks to bring friends out to club events.

Just a few hours here and there can be incredibly helpful to the club leadership and to your campus!

I’ll support the cause after graduation.

Unfortunately, abortions are still happening now and therefore our action is needed on our campuses now. Campuses contain the demographic most vulnerable to abortion as well as Canada’s future leaders. We need to be active on campus now in order to make sure these future leaders are well educated, that their hearts and minds are changed so that they can build a brighter future for Canada now and after graduation. We need to be active on campus now in order to reach out to those who may be faced with an untimely pregnancy, for their own sake and the sake of their pre-born children.

The problem with ‘tomorrow logic’ is that tomorrow ‘is always a day away’. If you train yourself now to put off urgent causes until tomorrow, then how will you have the character later to act and speak up?

Our character, our virtue, is formed by our habitual actions, the choices that we make. Our time at university is an ideal time to become pro-life leaders. Now, and not after graduation, is the time to learn the time management skills we need to complete our studies and give time to other priorities in our lives. Now, and not after graduation, is the time to choose to make small sacrifices, to practice courage within a controversial issue, to seek justice and mercy in our nation.

(After graduation is a great time to start supporting the work of NCLN as a monthly donor! Just thought we’d point that out. 😉 )

To reiterate the main points here, this cause is not a charity, it’s an emergency, and we need to match our convictions with action. But you’re not alone in trying to address this emergency: NCLN exists specifically to support you, to help you overcome the excuses you might hear from others (or occasionally feel tempted to make), and to make sure that you can be successful in your club and your classroom.

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The Pro-Life Leaders’ Book List – Part 2

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Welcome to part 2 of our series on the top book recommendations from Canada’s Pro-Life Leaders! In part 1, we heard from Jonathon Van Maren (CCBR), Anastasia Pearse (NCLN), Alex Schadenberg (EPC), Andrea Mrozek (IMFC), and André Schutten (ARPA). Click here to read part 1 (and stay tuned for part 3 next week!).

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forsytheMike Schouten, WeNeedALaw.ca

Politics For The Greatest Good, by Clarke D. Forsythe (InterVarsity Press, 2009).

“The author is a leading policy strategist in bioethical issues and senior counsel for Americans United for Life. His book is a must read for grasping an understanding of what it means to be prudent in the public square. Forsythe explains how advances made against injustices of both past and present only occur when there is a willingness work incrementally. He proves that incrementalism is moral, uncompromising, and ultimately the only effective strategy as we seek to overturn the injustice of abortion.”

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soul of Stephanie Gray, International Pro-Life Speaker

The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

“This book calls those active in doing apostolic, or ministry-based, activity to a life of deep prayer from which their action springs. It highlights the necessity of prayer being the “soul” of their work, so that they run on Divine inspiration, not human, and it highlights the dangers of doing otherwise.”

 

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Claculture warrissa Canaria, Central Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network

How to Win the Culture War, by Peter Kreeft

“Although not focused on abortion, this gem serves as a great reminder of all that we need to do as active pro-lifers to defeat the lies of the culture. By knowing what we’re up against and understanding that overcoming it is in our desire to be saints, you’ll be motivated and activated to do even the littlest things that will go a long way in this battle!”

 

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tacticsMaaike Rosendal, Campus Outreach Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform

Tactics, by Greg Koukl.

“It is one thing to know the science and philosophy that the pro-life position is based on, but it’s something else to be able to explain that to others and also change their mind! That’s where Tactics comes in. It’s an easy read that provides you with practical tools which allow you (as Greg Koukl would say) to stay in the driver’s seat during everyday conversations. In fact, this book has shaped the apologetics we teach and use at CCBR, equipping all of us to become better ambassadors for the pre-born. And which pro-lifer wouldn’t want that?”

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Stay tuned for part 3 next week! And if you missed part 1, click here.

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Without Exception

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Written by: Anastasia Pearse

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.

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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Slacktivism

Written by Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator

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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!

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For Immediate Release: THEFT AND VANDALISM AGAINST PRO-LIFERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA

For Immediate Release

THEFT AND VANDALISM AGAINST PRO-LIFERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA

Victoria, B.C. (September 11, 2014): On September 10th, two women rushed a pro-life club table at the University of Victoria, snatching the fetal models on display and dumping used cat litter all over the table. Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) was participating in the university’s Clubs Days event and had a recruitment table to sign up new members and engage with other students on the pro-life issues.IMG_20140910_095529035

Although the fetal models were recovered, club members arrived back this morning to find that the vandals had broken into the closed clubs room and that more filthy litter had been dumped on the table and the fetal models – valued at several hundred dollars – had been stolen.

“This kind of behaviour calls into question whether UVic is an environment where people can express their opinions and beliefs without such disrespectful opposition,” stated Adrian Canagasuriam, co-president of the club. “Other clubs and the student body need to be reminded that this kind of criminal behaviour has no place on a Canadian university campus.”

After speaking with campus security, club members made a police report with local authorities.

received_m_mid_1410383571133_ffb87cd4fbfb4a2319_0The club demanded that the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) formally condemn the actions of the vandals, and the UVSS has agreed to issue a statement doing so.

“In previous years the UVSS has attempted to ban and censure the club and was sued by the club in 2010,” stated Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network, a national organization that supports pro-life students. “It’s reassuring to see that student society representatives were helpful and apologetic in the wake of this incident and we look forward to a strong statement from the UVSS condemning this theft and vandalism.”

“This incident has not prevented us from continuing our outreach,” commented Kimberley Van Der Pijl, who witnessed yesterday’s attack and serves as co-president of the club. “We’ve had very positive conversations with so many students and many have signed up for the club.”
The members of YPY hope that the fetal models will be recovered, and that students who disagree with their message will learn to voice their disagreement in a mature, respectful manner.

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For additional information or comments, please contact:

Anastasia Pearse,
Western Campus Coordinator, National Campus Life Network,
westerncanada@ncln.ca  604-365-3484 (tel: 604-365-3484)

Adrian Canagasuriam
President, Youth Protecting Youth, UVic
youthprotectingyouth@gmail.com

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