Thousands of Canadians will line streets across the land to profess their belief in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death when this year’s annual Life Chain takes place the afternoon of Oct. 5.

According to Emma Short of Campaign Life Coalition in Toronto, Life Chain is a peaceful pro-life gathering that has been held every year since 1990. Canadians from Vancouver to St. John’s have lined sidewalks of communities and engaged in a prayerful witness to the injustice of abortion. Life Chain was created in 1987 in Yuba City, Calif. by a pro-life ministry called Please Let Me Live Inc. It intended to unite churches, law enforcement, press, public officials and area citizens in the Yuba City, Marysville and Sutter communities by supporting the value of preborn human life. The initial Life Chain event occurred on the streets of Marysville, Calif. and involved about 2,500 pro-life supporters. Since then, Life Chain has grown exponentially – from 771,000 participants covering 40 states and 130 cities across the United States in 1991 to one million participants across North America in 1994.

For 13 years, Canada has held Life Chains during the first Sunday in October. In 2001, approximately 8,500 Canadians attended Life Chains across Canada. The largest attendances were in cities such as Toronto, Calgary, and Ottawa. Short says Life Chain 2003 is expected to have some 30,000 participants across Canada, including 8,000 in Ontario. The Greater Toronto Area will have 49 Life Chain intersections that will attract approximately 3,000 participants. Major intersections will include Yonge and Steeles, Burnhamthorpe and the West Mall and Don Mills and Sheppard.

Campaign Life Coalition is encouraging all Canadians who have a concern for the sanctity of human life to attend Life Chain 2003. Bernadette Cheng, a four-year zone captain and eight-year Toronto Life Chain participant, says that the event consists of families, children, youths and seniors of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds engaging in a peaceful gathering as “witnesses to pro-life by encouraging all people to participate, showing what we stand for and against.” Campaign Life Coalition provides Life Chain placards in Chinese, English and French. The signs contain messages such “Abortion Kills Children,” “Adoption: the Loving Option,” “Abortion Hurts Women” and “Jesus Forgives and Heals.” Participants stand on designated local sidewalks and at busy city intersections attracting commuters who observe the pro-life messages.

Those attending Life Chain are encouraged to pray for one hour while providing visual pro-life statements that express abortion as being absolutely unacceptable. According to the Newfoundland Right To Life Association website, Canadian mothers underwent 105,427 abortions in 2000. Half of these were on women under 25 years of age and 65 per cent were single. Moreover, 40 per cent of all pregnancies in 2000 were unplanned. Half were carried to term and the other half were “terminated.” In 2000, there were 31 abortions in Ontario for every 100 live births; in British Columbia, there were 34 abortions for every 100 live births.

It is essential that Canadians coalesce and attend Life Chain 2003 to promote the protection of preborn children in the womb. As Canadians, we must contemplate the sanctity of life by acknowledging all human beings during their different stages of development.