If you had over 800 young people excited about being pro-life all in one building, what would you do? Every year, a day-long youth conference follows the National March for Life to provide information and more motivation for youth who want to know about the life issues and how they can make an impact.
On May 14, hundreds of students filled the conference centre at the Hampton Inn in Ottawa for a day of talks, workshops and meeting with other students from across the province.
Lila Rose from Live Action gave the first keynote address. She shared about her first encounter with abortion when she saw a photo of an abortion in a book at her home when she was nine years old. At just 15 years of age, she began Live Action, which goes undercover into abortuaries to expose the misinformation, corruption and illegal activities of Planned Parenthood.
In particular, many abortuaries outright lie about the development of preborn children to assure women that they are not killing a baby. They will also cover up rape and tell young girls to lie about their age and/or the age of the father of the preborn child in order to circumvent state laws designed to battle child and sexual abuse.
Stephanie Gray, from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, was the afternoon keynote speaker. She outlined very clearly how students can defend their position that the unborn are human beings deserving of protection, by using logic and science. Gray showed the horror of abortion through a graphic video that has been proven to change hearts and minds, motivate the apathetic and, ultimately, save lives.
Attendees had the opportunity to attend workshops that included facilitators Melissa Ohden (“Conversations with an Abortion Survivor”), Alex Schadenberg (euthanasia and assisted suicide), John-Henry Westen (“Communications – Getting the Message Out”) and David McDonald (“Activism – Getting Out There and Doing It Right”).
Ohden spoke the night before for the youth at their dinner, sharing her story of how her parents tried to abort her, but she survived. The workshop gave students the opportunity to talk to Ohden and ask questions. Schadenberg delved into the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide in light of recent happenings in Canada. Students we given tools to understand the issue and be active to fight against the push for legalizing assisted suicide. Westen’s workshop focused on using the media to get the pro-life message out.
This was the first year the National March for Life received extensive media coverage and it provided a perfect opportunity to continue the discussion in the media. Westen told the audience that young people have a powerful role in influencing media.
Finally, David MacDonald, with his fiancée Kirsten Harty, gave some concrete tools and ideas on how each person can use his or her interests and talents to influence the culture to respect all human life. These ideas ranged from becoming politically involved, to starting a club at school to using artistic talents to create artwork promoting life.