Everyone urged to get involved, even if they are not in Ottawa

More than 400 people participated in the 2010 candlelight vigil on the eve of the National March for Life in Ottawa.

The National March for Life candlelight vigil will occur this year on Wednesday, May 11, the day before the annual march in the nation’s capital. “It initiates the March for Life with a gathering in Ottawa at the Human Rights Monument,” Wanda Hartlin, secretary for the National March for Life, told The Interim. The purpose of the interdenominational vigil, she said, is to remember the victims of abortion.

After celebrating a Catholic Mass about a block away from the Canadian Monument to Human Rights, participants walk with candles in procession to the corner of Elgin and Lisgar streets where the monument is located, and then are joined by other Christians and supporters of other faiths. There, a platform is set up with candles representing the unborn. Each province also has its own candle, decorated by a provincial flag. People listen to talks and scriptural readings, pray, sing, and tell their own abortion stories, forming an “intimate gathering” which makes a very “beautiful” effect on a busy street corner after dusk. Last year, 500 people took part in the vigil.

The vigil started in 2002 with Dr. André Lafrance, who was very active in the pro-life movement in Ottawa. He had a vision that “we would have candles lit in memory of those who died from abortion in Ottawa and across the country,” said Hartlin, forming a huge memorial to the unborn.

To Bill Mullally, who works out of the Toronto office of Campaign Life Coalition, the candlelight vigil is a spiritual event and invocation for the success of the march on the following day. “It’s a living symbol of the hope that Christians have and other people (have) who are pro-life,” he told The Interim. “Candle vigils have been used for many thousands of years in times of sorrow and celebration,” he said. “Candles and the symbols of fire and light are very significant to Christians, as “Christ said he was the light of the world.”

People who are not able to attend the vigil can still symbolically be a part of it by pledging candles for a minimum of $2 per candle. Families may send in pledge forms and distribute copies to friends, coworkers, and relatives. This will help to raise funds towards the March for Life, which costs upwards of $100,000. The pledge is also a form of “outreach” for “engaging families” according to organizers.

The National March for Life committee has received pledges with notes saying that families discussed the event together and that some children even forfeited their allowance for a week or two to buy several candles. The children “thus witness this celebration (that) is going on in Ottawa,” said Mullally. People may also participate by joining in prayer at 8:45 pm, the start of the vigil.

The Candlelight Vigil this year will start off the 12th annual National March for Life.

The vigil will be followed by a large pro-life gathering on Parliament Hill and the annual Rose Dinner on May 12 and the student conference on May 13.