Members of the University of Victoria Youth Protecting Youth club, which won the Interim co-sponsored Campus Pro-Life Award. Laura Saville (third from right) and Laura Gerein (right were at the NCLN symposium in Toronto to receive the award on Oct. 1.

The National Campus Life Network is dedicated to promoting the pro-life activism on university and college campuses. Recently, NCLN held its annual symposium at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto, bringing together 35 representatives from pro-life clubs across the country. Students from existing clubs were present as were students who are working to form new clubs at their universities. This was the 15th annual symposium.

In a brief interview with The Interim, Rebecca Richmond, national director of NCLN, outlined the purpose and achievements of these symposia over the years

The Interim: What was the main aim of the symposium?

Rebecca Richmond: The aim of the weekend each year is to equip the students with the knowledge they need on current life issues and empower them with skills and strategies to have an impact on their campuses. Our goal is also to network and connect the students, giving them opportunities to share experiences and ideas and develop relationships to connect them with the broader Pro-Life campus movement.

TI: Who were some of the guest speakers presenters?

RR: Our speakers included: Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (Pro-Life 101 and Pro-Life 201); Sr. Monica Faustina of the Sisters of Life (Understanding the Heart of a Pregnant Woman); Angelina Steenstra of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (Breaking Silence, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign); Margaret Smith and Vania Branker of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Centre (In Vitro Fertilization); Christina Lamb, registered nurse (Euthanasia: Is a ‘Good Death’ Death?); Rebecca Richmond and Anastasia Pearse, NCLN executive director and Western campus coordinator (Breaking Through on Your Campus); lawyer Daniel Santoro (Knowing Your Rights – legal workshop); Daniel Gilman (Abortion in Canada: How Did We Get Here and Can We Get Out? – history and politics workshop)

TI: what was achieved by the symposium?

RR: The symposium’s theme this year was “Breaking Through” and we are confident that the experience and training the students received will help them break through on their own campuses more effectively throughout the school year. Each year we have seen how the symposium becomes a pivotal moment for many student leaders in their pro-life journeys. Feedback from the students this year indicates this as well: “It gave me the confidence to step up our prolife club”; “My brain is exploding in a good way”; “The Symposium equipped me with skills necessary to be a leader in my campus and community”; “I was nervous before about leading a pro-life group, but now I feel more confident and determined.”
The staff and board of NCLN that ran the weekend are, like me, former student leaders who once attended the symposium. We continue to run this weekend not only because we see the impact it has on students, but also because we experienced firsthand the impact it had on us when we were student leaders. We’re already planning and looking forward to next year’s symposium.

The symposium was the venue for a new initiative that was welcomed by NCLN. The Campus Pro-Life Award was presented for the first time to support and encourage the work of pro-life campus clubs. The award program is co-sponsored by Niagara Region RTL and The Interim newspaper. The first recipient was the University of Victoria’s Youth Protecting Youth. Laura Saville and Laura Gerein were happy to receive the award from Dan Di Rocco on behalf of their club. They have an exciting project planned for this year and they expressed both surprise and gratitude that their club was chosen as the award recipient.