Upwards of 20,000 people are expected in Ottawa again this year for the National March for Life, to be held May 12. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

March for Life tapping into youth to lead the movement

By 
  • May 5, 2016

Today’s pro-lifers amust mentor the youth to make sure the movement keeps its momentum, says Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.

“As we get older those of us who have been around for a while have the job of mentoring to the young people so that they stay on the right path,” said Hughes. “Older people have to mentor to them so that they don’t make the same mistakes. That is the real challenge here.”

Hughes’ words come as he and an estimated 20,000 pro-lifers prepare for the National March for Life, to be held May 12 in Ottawa. The theme for this year’s march, the 19th annual, is “End the Killing.”

Hughes can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting the youth voice out for the march.

“The youth are extremely important,” said Hughes.

Since pro-lifers first began marching through the downtown streets of Ottawa and gathering on Parliament Hill in 1997, the March for Life has expanded to include a number of other events such as the candlelight vigil held the night before the march, the Rose Dinner following the big event and a youth conference on the day after.

The march is a perfect opportunity to tap into the youth voice. Recent years have seen an influx of young people joining the march, and many have been inspired to join the pro-life movement.

“(Often) the younger people come out because it is a day away from school and it is a field trip and all this sort of stuff,” Hughes said. “(But) when they start to learn about the issue it is amazing because we get so many calls for speakers to come into the schools to talk to the youth.”

Traditionally, the march has focused on fighting abortion. However, with euthanasia now a reality in Canada, Hughes expects to see a greater diversity of groups represented at this year’s march.

“Although we have different tactics and strategies,” said Hughes, “we all see the necessity to come together in saying no killing of innocent life before birth or at the end of life.”

Among the groups who will be present this year are WeNeedaLaw.ca, LifeCanada and Right Now. A number of clergy will also be in attendance, including representatives from Priests for Life and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Alissa Golob, Campaign Life’s former youth co-ordinator and co-founder of Right Now, a recently formed group focused on getting pro-life politicians elected, said events like the March for Life are critical to continuing the pro-life fight from one generation to the next.

“It’s extremely important to pass on the passion through events like the March for Life because these (younger) attendees are future parents, taxpayers and voters,” said Golob, 28. “These are the decision-makers of the future which means each attendee through various networks, connections and family members represent a large portion of the Canadian public.”

She said attending the March for Life for the first time in 2005 as a Grade 12 student played a critical role in her choosing the pro-life movement for a career.

“More needs to be done in terms of turning March for Life attendees into volunteers, advocates and activists,” she said. “Because I was one of the organizers for the March for Life for so many years, I know this is (one of the) main areas of the movement pro-life Canadians need to capitalize on.”
While Hughes acknowledges the importance of doing just that, the most important thing is prayer.

“When you have all these forces against you the most important thing is to turn to God in prayer,” he said. “Heaven only knows what will be next.”

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