Campaign Life Coalition vice president Matt Wojciechowski and CLC Youth coordinator Josie Luetke host the 2020 Virtual National March for Life.
Forced to cancel the National March for Life scheduled for May 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Campaign Life Coalition hosted a Virtual National March for Life online, along with a full week of events including a film festival, a virtual candlelight vigil, a virtual Mass, and an online youth webinar.
Here are links to images of participants of the Virtual March that were in the print edition of The Interim.
On May 10, there was a livestream of Strings Attached, followed by an interview with Obianuju (“Uju”) Ekeocha. The following days featured Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death (and interview with Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg), the short films Crescendoand Sing a Little Louder(interview with producer Jason Jones), and Because ofGrácia(interview with director Tom Simes).
On May 13, there was a virtual memorial Mass for Fr. Alphonse de Valk who passed away in April. The Virtual March for Life was dedicated to him. Afterward, there was a virtual candlelight vigil featuring speakers, music, and footage of past vigils.
On May 14, Ottawa Archbishop Terrance Prendergast celebrated the virtual Mass for life. Afterward, Alabama-based EWTN hosted a 90 minute-show titled after the March’s theme, Be Not Afraid, with panelists Stephanie Gray of Love Unleashes Life, Kevin Dunn of Dunn Media, and Campaign Life Coalition vice president Matt Wojciechowski. The show featured interviews Dunn had with numerous pro-life leaders including CLC national president Jeff Gunnarson, Laura Klassen of Choice42, and Angelina Streenstra of Silent No More Awareness, among others. Between segments, the panelists addressed some of the issues raised in the interviews.
The Virtual National March for Life aired May 14 from 2-5 pm, and was hosted by Wojciechowski and CLC Youth Coordinator Josie Luetke. There was an opening prayer, national anthem, and greetings from the organizers and several religious leaders. Margaret Mountain, co-chair of the March for Life Committee said in her opening greetings, that we “miss exuberance of youth on Parliament Hill, the speeches, the camaraderie, the singing, the chanting.”
Eight MPs sent video greetings: Arnold Viersen (Peace River-Westlock), Derek Sloan (Hastings-Lennox and Addington), Michael Barrett (Leeds, Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes), Kelly Block (Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek), , Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords-Lloydminster), Ted Falk (Provencher), Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan), Tamara Jansen (Cloverdale-Langley City), and Cathay Wagantall (Yorkton-Melville), as well as Christian Heritage Party leader Rod Taylor.
Taylor thanked elected officials at all levels that defend the sanctity of human life, and everyone committed to the pro-life cause, including those watching the Virtual National March for Life.
Viersen, chair of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, noted 300 preborn babies are killed every day and asked: “Who will speak for the preborn. You will. And I will.” Wagantall said the pro-life movement is “the hands and feet of God to work to protect preborn,” urging viewers: “Please don’t give up. Please don’t lose hope.” Ted Falk said the march “looks a little different this year,” but was happy that it continues on. He said, “about 100,000 lives are ended prematurely in the womb, are not the result of dreaded disease, but the unwillingness of Canadian leaders to protect the lives of unborn children.” After the montage of political greetings, Luetke interviewed Wagantall about her private member’s bill to end sex-selective abortion.
There were greetings from pro-life leaders from each province, as regional marches for life were also cancelled due to the pandemic. There were also greetings from American pro-lifers including Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Michael Knowles of The Daily Signal, Melissa Ohden of the Abortion Survivors’ Network, and Michael New of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
CLC director of political operations Jack Fonseca interviewed three pro-life candidates running for the Conservative Party leadership Derek Sloan, Leslyn Lewis, and Jim Karahalios, and Luetke reminded viewers that although CLC is non-partisan, they encourage pro-lifers to get involved and help elect pro-life leaders.
David Mulroney, former ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, talked about China and Canada’s abortion policies, and noted that he and his wife were sorry they were not with everyone in Ottawa because the National March for Life “is one of the nicest, most inspiring days of the year.” Wojciechowski said he hopes to see everyone again next year in Ottawa.
On May 15, there was a webinar for youth hosted by CLC Youth’s Josie Luetke and Shania Nigli, during which they held a panel with high school pro-life students. There were also three talks: “Pro-life 101” with Luetke. She spoke with CLC Nova Scotia’s Ruth Robert on how to become involved in the pro-life movement. And she discussed becoming involved politically at the local, national, and global level with CLC global affairs policy and advocacy advisor Mattea Merta.
Debbie Duval, a member of the National March for Life Committee, told The Interimthe National March for Life committee “pivoted quickly into unchartered territory to bring the plight of the unborn to those in Canada and around the world,” by shifting to an online march when the pandemic made the traditional march in the nation’s capital impossible. “We worked and God made it possible for a successful week of pro-life programming reaching more than we could have imagined.”
Duval reported that millions saw it on television (EWTN) and there were 50,000 Facebook views on EWTN. The March for Life Canada YouTube page had almost 20,000 views, and that number continued to go up after the week’s programs were complete. Duval said people can still view the interviews, greetings, Virtual March for Life, and candlelight vigil, and other features, on both the March for Life website and the March for Life Canada channel on YouTube.
She said that people who might not normally participate in the march were able to get the pro-life message because of “distance or life circumstances” were able to participate this year. Duval added that with the success of this year’s Virtual March for Life, the committee will examine ways to include an online component in next year’s National March for Life program. “Nothing can replace a physical march on Parliament Hill,” said Duval, “but a virtual supplement to review all year will be a great addition.”