The National Campus Life Network held its annual Symposium Oct. 1-3 at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto. There were 23 students in attendance, representing pro-life campus clubs from across Canada. Some clubs have been active for years, while others are fighting for club status on campus. No matter what stage they are at, everyone had a common goal during the weekend – to learn how to effectively defend the pro-life cause on campus.

Stephanie Gray, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, was the keynote speaker for the weekend. She travels throughout Canada and the United States, teaching people about abortion through presentations, debates and displays.

Everyone arrived the Friday evening. Some drove, while others flew in. Participants said it was well worth any amount of traveling time to meet and talk to others with similar goals in mind for their campus. Clubs with a lot of experience were able to share their knowledge with others who were just getting started. Brains were picked and ideas grabbed. Five minutes could not go by without talking about pro-life or something related.

On the Saturday, Gray gave apologetics training. It was made clear that apologetics was not apologizing for our beliefs, but the “formal argumentation in defence of something, such as a position or system.” And with that as her basis, the students were given all the common arguments they will face and how to handle them with ease. She showed the video The Harder Truth which shows footage of aborted babies from abortions through all stages of pregnancy. Although the scenes were graphic, Gray said it was necessary to see it in order to be reminded of the horror of abortion. She spoke with passion as she showered the students with facts and information.

Later that afternoon, the students were able to practise all the information they had earlier received. Within small groups, from two to four, each person took on the role of pro-abort or pro-lifer. They then engaged in a mock debate to challenge each other and instill confidence for when they are faced with a similar situation. Gray was able to mingle among the groups to give them her best pro-abortion argument. With her five years’ experience working full-time in pro-life, she has encountered many arguments and was able to pass on her knowledge.

Gray’s motivation to work full-time in the pro-life movement came when she was told that “there are more people working full time to kill babies than there are people working full time to save them” at a NCLN symposium five years ago. The speaker was pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf. The same thought was reiterated throughout the weekend to the students: “Are you as determined to save babies as many are to kill them?”

NCLN was formed to support, unify and expand individual life advocacy groups on post-secondary campuses. Its focus is three-fold. One is helping to establish and maintain life advocacy groups on post-secondary campuses across Canada. The second is to help educate and activate pro-life students on Canada’s campuses.

The final focus is on setting up a solid network of resources and support for life-affirming students.