The National Campus Life Network held its sixth annual national symposium Jan 14-17 at St. Augustine’s seminary in Toronto. The event brought together about 50 young people who were pro-life leaders on their respective campuses, with the aim of giving these students a forum to share their experiences in campus pro-life organizing, and to benefit from the expertise of other pro-life leaders.

This year’s symposium featured Anna Westover from Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.’s Centre for Life Principles, as its principal speaker. She spoke of how our culture needs to be reformed at its heart, and outlined Fr. Spitzer’s “Life Principles” philosophy. Westover also led a Sunday morning session on the value of suffering.

David Brown, a Toronto lawyer, gave a workshop on “Understanding your rights to free expression on campus.” Brown addressed the concerns raised by the censorship of many pro-life groups by university administrations across the country. Students from the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa shared their difficulties in mounting the Genocide Awareness Project on their campuses. Pro-lifers will recall the violent destruction of a GAP display at the UBC, featured on a video clip on Lifesite.at http://www.lifesite.net.

Sessions on pro-life apologetics were led by Jo Jo Ruba, Stephanie Gray and Hilary White, all affiliated with the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. These workshops equipped the students to articulately defend the pro-life position against even the most vexing arguments of the opposition. Denise St. Jean and Michael Connell facilitated workshops on the nuts and bolts of running campus pro-life groups. After Sunday worship, the symposium closed with a talk by Fr. Tom Lynch, who expanded on the ethical issues raised by new reproductive technologies, such as stem cell research and cloning.