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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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BC Supreme Court Rules Against Freedom of Speech for Pro-Life University Students

National Campus Life Network (NCLN) is very disappointed with the decision of the BC Supreme Court yesterday, which decided against the petition of Cameron Cote (the former president of the pro-life club Youth Protecting Youth at the University of Victoria) and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA). The case was in response to ongoing censorship from the student society and university administration and sought to have a confirmation that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be considered to apply to universities.

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YPY students protest illegal censorship in 2010

The University of Victoria has had a history of discrimination and censorship against pro-lifers. Anastasia Pearse, then president of the pro-life club Youth Protecting Youth, sued the student society with the help of the BCCLA in 2010. The lawsuit was settled out of court on the club’s terms, but unfortunately the student society and university administration has continued to bully the club over the past several years, censuring them for their activities.

Over the years the club has had their funding and status denied, they have had restrictions placed on their club booking and postering privileges, and has had stink bombs and smoke bombs set off during their activities. Recently, in the fall of 2014, the club faced vandalism and theft when two women threw used cat litter all over the table and stole fetal models. The current case focuses on events of 2013, when the university administration suddenly revoked their approval for space for a club event and admonished Cameron Cote, then club president, when the event went ahead despite the university’s attempted censorship.

Chief Justice Hinkson’s ruling found that the Charter did not apply in this case.

“I am very disappointed that the BC Supreme Court has ruled that the University of Victoria can silence an unpopular message at a moment’s notice without being held accountable to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” commented Cameron Cote. “If a university can pick and choose who is allowed to express their views in common areas on campus, then it is not only those who hold the pro-life view that should be concerned, but all students and indeed all Canadians.”

“This is another blow to the reputation of Canadian universities,” states Anastasia Pearse, alumnus of the University of Victoria and NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator. “Universities claim to value free speech in their policies on the one hand and then repeatedly act against it when the peaceful expression and activities of some students is controversial or offensive to some.”

For more information or additional comment, contact Anastasia Pearse, NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator. westerncanada@ncln.ca604 365 3484.

National Campus Life Network is Canada’s national pro-life student organization.

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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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Crumpled but Intact: YPY at York Gets the Message Out Despite Vandalism

By Clarissa Luluquisin, NCLN Central Campus Coordinator

The first week of the new semester was a literal and figurative ‘banner week’ for Youth Protecting Youth, the pro-life student club at York University (Toronto).  The club started their outreach by placing a banner in one of the most central areas on campus.  Hand-painted with an image of a pre-born child and the message, “Abortion kills a human life”, this banner was approved for display by one of the governing bodies for campus clubs.

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Source: YPY at York Facebook Page

The banner was torn down on the first night, but found intact in a nearby recycling bin. It was torn down a second time in the week and, again, the perpetrators attempted to recycle the large banner.

After rescuing their banner for the second time, the club plans to reinforce the banner to make its removal more difficult. They are also pursuing the vandalism by requesting access to the video feed of the hall. “We aren’t discouraged,” wrote a club leader on Facebook, “and no one can silence our voice!

As pro-lifers, our message, regardless of how many times it may get “crumpled” by someone who disagrees, remains intact.  This is the nature of the truth. 

If you are on campus and are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps feeling a bit like the club banner, know that NCLN is here to help smooth things over. We are here to serve you and support your efforts to make your voices heard!

Have stories from your Clubs Days or other activities this semester? Be sure to share them with your NCLN staff member! 

   

 

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Youth Protecting Youth: Happy Valentine’s Day!

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

Oh Valentine’s Day. For many, this is a day that leaves us with one of two questions. Some, who have been pampered with gifts of flowers and words of affection from a significant other, ask themselves what they have done to deserve such love and appreciation. Others, who were not pampered with gifts or who do not have a significant other, ask themselves what they need to do in the future to deserve that flower or word of affection.

So often we base our value on what other people think of us, and we attempt to draw parallels between what we have done or what we can do and how much we are valued by others. We have been told on countless occasions that nothing comes for free, and that if we are to receive anything, even a kind word or a bouquet of flowers, we must earn it, maybe by “putting out.” Although some may subscribe to this system, those who are a part of Youth Protecting Youth at the University of Victoria do not, and we want you to know it:

Today, YPY club members will be giving out free flowers. We recognize that your value is not dependent on your achievements, and that your dignity does not rest on what you are capable of. You are a valuable, dignified human being, regardless of what we think, regardless of what others think, and to be brutally honest, regardless of what you think. You needn’t do anything to earn our affirmation. We want you to know that you are valuable no matter what.

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Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

$1500 Grant for Pro-Life Clubs Offered Again this Year

It’s back! Last year, a new grant was created to support pro-life campus clubs in Canada. This $1500.00 grant is sponsored by The Interim and Niagara Region Right to Life, and facilitated by National Campus Life Network. We’re thrilled to announce that this grant is being offered again this year!

The purpose of this grant is to recognize the work of pro-life clubs and assist them in their efforts on campuses. The grant will be given to the group whose event proposal demonstrates:

  • Creativity
  • Planning
  • Leadership, and
  • Will have a substantial impact on the university culture.

The deadline for this year’s application is August 31st.

Last year’s winner was Youth Protecting Youth at the University of Victoria. The grant money made it possible for them to focus on activism, rather than fundraising, allowing them to organize effective events, including Choice Chain in November. Cam Côté, the Vice-President of Youth Protecting Youth, described this event as the most successful event he has seen since joining the club. Hundreds of conversations were had that day, and many more students were exposed to the pro-life message. Even more were reached through the media attention the club received, both on campus and in the community.

Cam Côté, reporting upon the impact the grant had on the club, stated,

“I cannot adequately express how successful our year was, despite the opposition and censorship, and how much the grant made our success possible. With it we have been able to train the largest group of people our club has had in recent memory … Though there will certainly be difficult times to come, the group that has come together has the desire and the basis to take an active part in making abortion unthinkable at UVic, and throughout the nation.”

Applications, which include the completed event proposal and a tentative budget, are to be submitted to NCLN by August 31st. The decision will be made by the Grant Sponsors, with recommendations from National Campus Life Network’s staff who work with the groups throughout the year. The grant of $1500.00 will be presented to representatives from the successful group during NCLN’s Annual National Symposium (Sept 28 – 30) in Toronto.

For an application contact Clarissa at central@ncln.ca  Applications are to be submitted to NCLN by August 31, 2012.

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University of Victoria Pro-Life Club Censored Once Again

February 7, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

University of Victoria Pro-Life Club Censored Once Again

Victoria B.C.-The University of Victoria Student’s Society (UVSS) Board of Directors passed two motions to publicly censure the pro-life club on campus, Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) last night, February 6th. The first motion was put forward in response to complaints stemming from an event the club held last November called “Choice” Chain and charged the students with violating the UVSS Harassment Policy. The second motion was passed in response to a poster the club put up on campus in October. As a result, YPY will be denied their ability to book public space on campus for their events and is forbidden to hold “Choice” Chain or other similar events. The club is also banned from putting up posters until a new policy is written by the UVSS to govern poster content. The board also ordered YPY to write a letter of apology to groups who were offended by the poster.

“Choice” Chain is a project developed by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) and consists of volunteers holding three by four foot signs with graphic images of first trimester aborted fetuses. The volunteers engage passers-by in dialogue about abortion. More information about the project can be found here: http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/projects/choicechain

“This is a disappointing development,” said Cameron Côté, YPY Vice-President and coordinator of the “Choice” Chain event. “People may have felt offended by the images but that in no way constitutes harassment. If you merely have to claim your feelings were hurt or you disliked someone’s message or way of expressing themselves to find that person guilty of harassment, freedom of speech ceases to exist. While we recognize that some people do not like our message, that doesn’t mean we should be censored.  ”

Campus Outreach Director for CCBR, Alanna Gomez, stated, “The charges of harassment have no grounds. There were no complaints made about the conduct of the students, because they acted respectfully and peacefully. The only complaints were based on the negative feelings people had because they didn’t like the pictures the students were holding. Just because someone doesn’t like a picture doesn’t mean they have been harassed, which is what the UVSS is trying to claim.”

The poster that resulted in the second motion was developed by National Campus Life Network (NCLN), and compares the current denial of legal personhood to the pre-born in Canada with similar treatment of other groups in the past. The poster can be viewed here: http://www.ncln.ca/resources/print-resources/person-poster/

“I thought the UVSS had moved past this type of discrimination and censorship since the settlement of YPY’s lawsuit in July 2010,” said Anastasia Pearse, former YPY president. Pearse currently works as the Western Campus Coordinator for NCLN. “Censorship of the abortion debate at a university is shameful and unacceptable.”

“YPY will not tolerate this ideological discrimination,” said Côté. “We must all demand that our   society be free of discrimination and censorship of minority or unpopular viewpoints. If there is a right not to be offended than we cannot have freedom of speech in this country or on campus.The legal killing of so many innocent human beings is a disturbing topic, but it is far too serious to suppress or ignore.”

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For further information:

Cameron Côté (YPY Vice President) – 778-678-4275, youthprotectingyouth@gmail.com

Alanna Gomez (CCBR Campus Outreach Director) – 403-690-5217, acampbell@unmaskingchoice.ca

Anastasia Pearse (NCLN Western Coordinator) – 604-365-3484, westerncanada@ncln.ca

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A Warm Welcome to Anastasia Pearse, NCLN’s New Western Campus Coordinator

Anastasia is grateful to have this opportunity to continue to promote the pro-life cause. She is looking forward to using her experiences to help university pro-life clubs share the pro-life message, a message that is too important not to be heard.

Anastasia has always been pro-life, and what has most confirmed her position has been seeing the development of her siblings from the womb onwards. Being the eldest of 9, she has had plenty of opportunities to see this development. However, it wasn’t until university that she became actively involved in pro-life work. During her five years at the University of Victoria Anastasia was involved in the pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth. As president she worked hard to maintain the club’s status amidst strong pro-choice opposition from their students’ society.

During this time she led the club through a lawsuit, which they filed against their students’ society who had denied Youth Protecting Youth club status because of their stance on abortion. Through her perseverance and support from fellow club members, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and NCLN, the case was settled out of court on the club’s terms, and Anastasia succeeded in keeping a vibrant pro-life presence on campus. Throughout the controversy Anastasia gained invaluable experience coordinating events, creating and presenting appeals, and interacting with the media. It was through encountering such strong opposition to her pro-life beliefs that she truly came to understand the vital importance of the cause, and the necessity of actively furthering it.

Throughout the five years of her university degree the most valuable lessons Anastasia learned were from working with the pro-life club. However, her degree in Recreation and Health Education also provided her with opportunities to promote the pro-life cause, as she spent two work terms with seniors and people with disabilities. Through these experiences she witnessed firsthand how all people have inherent value and beauty, regardless of age or ability.

As Anastasia steps into her role as NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator, she encourages students to keep persevering in their pro-life efforts on campus; we cannot neglect our peers who need to be exposed to our life-affirming message, and we cannot afford to remain silent when so many lives are at stake.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

~Martin Luther King Jr.

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