Many of the more than 300 attendees from across Canada, and even the U.S., hailed it as the best conference of any kind they had ever been to, following the completion of Healing the Culture: A New Beginning, the Canadian national pro-life conference in Vancouver Nov. 16-18.

The event revolved around the Healing the Culture concept, which seeks to build a pro-life culture by inspiring individuals, upholding the intrinsic dignity of every person and helping people live for deeper meaning and purpose.

“Everything went so smoothly,” remarked Yvonne Douma, executive director of the Pro-Life Society of British Columbia which, along with Campaign Life Coalition B.C. and Life Canada, presented the event. “Delegates responded that they were so happy they came and wished more people could have come … It spoke to everyone where they were at.”

“I have to say it was one of the most positive conferences I have ever attended,” said CLC B.C. president John Hof. “People were raving about the concepts being offered and I know they were lined up for CD copies of the presentations.” Healing the Culture materials proved to be so popular, they were sold out by the end of the conference, added Douma.

No protesters appeared throughout the weekend, but there was an unfortunate absence of mainstream media coverage.

Healing the Culture representatives Rev. Robert Spitzer, Camille de Blasi Pauley and Lisa-Ann Oliver were joined as conference and workshop speakers by numerous others, including: Dr. John Patrick, a former professor of clinical nutrition; Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition; Pavel Reid, director of young adult ministries with the U.S. Military Services; Natalie Hudson, executive director of the Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area; Malcolm Roddis, former chair of Focus on Life Media; Cathie Alston Cowie, former director of employment for World Vision; Carrie Abbott, founder and president of the Legacy Institute; political consultant Michael Pauley; Eileen Geller, anti-euthanasia advocate; and Carrie Abbott, promoter of sexual purity.

Kicking off the event was keynote speaker Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of Toward Tradition, a non-profit U.S. educational organization working to advance our nation toward traditional Judeo-Christian values (see the October 2006 issue of The Interim for a question-and-answer interview with Lapin).

Workshops covered topics including how to bring about Canadian pro-life legislation, how to speak to children about abortion, public speaking, media strategies and parent-driven approaches to sex education.

The non-profit educational organization that promotes the Healing the Culture program ( was founded in 2003 by Spitzer, president of Gonzaga University in the U.S., and de Blasi Pauley, who now serves as president. The program is based on Spitzer’s Life Principles curriculum, which explores the unique nature and dignity of human beings and identifies four different ways in which persons can view meaning and purpose in life. These four viewpoints are referred to as the “four levels of happiness.”

In an address at the Vancouver conference, Spitzer dealt with the mythical arguments put forth by the pro-euthanasia movement, which prey on the vulnerabilities of the elderly who don’t wish to be a burden.

Legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide will create a culture of suicide as the value of life is measured increasingly in terms of physical health and independence, he said. “Young people will hear this as a legitimate solution to pain and suffering. Schools will carry this. What becomes legal becomes normative, what becomes normative becomes moral.”

Spitzer said it is imperative that governments resist the push to legalize euthanasia. “One person’s option can, and will, become another person’s duty to die.”

De Blasi’s address centred on the value and dignity of each human person. A wider theme of the conference was that we must heal ourselves before we can heal the culture and “be there” for society at large.

Douma said organizers want to keep the momentum triggered by the conference going with a follow-up Healing the Culture event, possibly in Seattle, Wash. in the near future, and then another one back in Canada later on.

The Vancouver conference built a momentum of ‘we can do this,’” she said. “People have been revitalized … It’s a new beginning and now we’re asking where we go from here.”

The conference committee is lending its experience and expertise to organizers of the 2007 national pro-life conference, which will be held across the continent in Moncton, N.B. Oct. 25-27.

“They will have a hard act to follow,” Douma quipped.

– With files from