Theresa Matters
The Interim

The National Campus Life Network hosted 34 students from across Canada at its annual symposium at St. Augustine’s Seminary, Toronto, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. The event was for campus pro-life leaders and had as its purpose the equipping of campus leaders to effectively spread the message of respecting life from conception to natural death.

Two students, Chuck and Sarah Marple, flew in from the University of Alberta to represent their pro-life club during the weekend. The club has been on campus for the past 23 years. Chuck is the current president, in his fourth year of mechanical engineering. Sarah is the vice-president of finance and studying in her third year for a bachelor of science degree in nursing.

Some projects their club has done on campus already include the Genocide Awareness Project, weekly information tables in the Students Union Building, a debate and a postering campaign with Feminist For Life materials.

Their schedule for the upcoming year contains many other activities. They are hoping to have an info fair with various pro-life organizations, adoption agencies and crisis pregnancy centre booths set up to provide information on various topics. GAP is another possibility, which will include collaborating with the club at the University of Calgary. An idea shared by Saint Francis Xavier during the NCLN weekend was to start a bursary program for single mothers on campus. U of A, along with other campus clubs, really liked this idea and is hoping to start that as well.

The weekend provided practical information and an opportunity to share ideas among club leaders. Along with the bursary initiative, other clubs were able to offer helpful insights into various projects. U of A has been a club for a number of years, whereas pro-lifers from some campuses are still working on getting club status.

Sarah and Chuck were able to give advice to those just getting started in their campus pro-life activism. Sarah’s advice to pro-life students on campus was to “find your local pro-life group and become active” and “if there is no pro-life group, maybe think of starting one.” For students who are not sure where to start, they can check out and get help and direction in getting active on campus.

Being active on a university campus is not always easy, as many of the students would agree. Chuck and Sarah said they believe two of the hardest obstacles facing pro-life students on campus are apathy and dedicated involvement. Chuck knows that the most important thing you can do is “get out and be heard.” Silence is the enemy when trying to educate people on important issues such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

Fortunately, the weekend provided crucial information on all the life topics, as well as on how to spread it once everyone went back to their campuses. There were workshops in the Saturday afternoon that dealt with starting a new club, running events and how to deal with campus governments. The morning was spent practicing skills by roleplaying with each other, in order to strengthen approaches when dealing with people who disagree with the pro-life message.

Spreading the life message on campus will never be easy, but the weekend proved that there are many young people across Canada eager to learn and willing to put into practice the tools to defend life. Sarah is exactly right when she said, about being active in the pro-life movement: “It’s such a rewarding experience and a message that needs to be spread, especially by young people.”