Genevieve Umeh (right) and Joann Rajanayagam (left) of McMaster Lifeline receive the pro-life club award from Dan Di Rocco, representing The Interim and Niagara Region RTL.

For the past 15 years the National Campus Life Network CLN Symposium has been bringing together university students from across Canada for a weekend featuring speakers to provide information and knowledge to equip them to bring the pro-life message to their university campus. This year’s symposium – the organization’s 15th – was held at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto, Sept. 28-30.

Theresa Gilbert, NCLN’s president, told The Interim “The symposiumm, in 1997, was actually the birthplace of the National Campus Life Network.” She said the NCLN was created to help the students assembled 15 years ago “to help them be more effective in their campus activism,” and that a decade-and-a-half later, “NCLN is serving the next generation of campus leaders.”

This year students learned about pro-life issues from experts within the fields, including Stephanie Gray from the Canadian Centre of Bio-Ethical Reform, Dr. Stephen Genuis, a clinician and researcher, and John Carpay, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutions Freedoms who had defended students from censorious administrations.  Workshop presenters, which included Angelina Steenstra, National Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and Sr. Maria Kateri of the Sisters of the Life, provided students with concrete ways to bring the message of life to campus.

NCLN executive director Rebecca Richmond told The Interim, “It was an exciting weekend, but it’s just the beginning.” Richmond explained, “The whole point is to provide students with the knowledge and tools that they need to reach their campuses.  The real excitement will be to see what happens on campuses this year.”

NCLN shared comments from the evaluation forms from participants. One said, “I feel empowered, equipped, and more supported and blessed than I could ever hope for.”

Recently, NCLN received a boost to its program in the form of an annual grant for a university pro-life club. The co-sponsors, The Interim and Niagara Region Right to Life, offer a $1500 grant to a university club for implementaiton of its clubs objectives. The 2012-2013 recipient is McMaster Lifeline at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., for its planned three-day symposium on human dignity to be held next Spring.