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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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