Young pro-lifers network and share new ideas for growing the movement at a Toronto pub. Photo by Jacklyn Gilmor

Pro-life groups host pub night for young adults

By  Jacklyn Gilmor, Youth Speak News
  • June 12, 2018

Joel Recouso doesn’t really drink, but he’s glad he came to the Firkin on Bay pub on June 9. Over beer and bar food, pro-life young people from across southern Ontario gathered to celebrate. 

The event was part of a Meet the Pro-Life Movement Day which was a conference for pro-life people to network and hear from speakers on the issue of abortion. St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto hosted the conference. 

Speakers came from several organizations and included Sam Oosterhoff, the pro-life Ontario MPP who was elected at the age of 19.

At first, Recouso wasn’t sure if there was much of a pro-life movement in Toronto but he found that numbers are strong. About 100 people attended the conference, and many of them stayed for drinks to socialize and continue the conversation.

“I’m really impressed,” said Recouso. “I thought I knew all there was to know, but I was completely proved wrong. The speakers here and what they brought were absolutely phenomenal.” 

Recouso has always been pro-life, but this event gave him an opportunity to be active in the pro-life community. He said he’s definitely going to come to the next event and get involved in the movement.

Scott Hayward, 27, was one of the speakers. He’s a co-founder of the RightNow movement. RightNow does canvassing, petitions and workshops to raise awareness and make changes in Canadian politics.

Hayward said the conference was one of the first events in the Greater Toronto Area where a number of pro-life groups got together. 

“Some of the best conversations happen one on one or in small groups, and this (event) gives an opportunity for that to happen,” he said. “Around the pub here this evening, a lot of people are talking about different ridings they’re working in… and they’re connecting with different volunteers. That stuff can’t happen in a workshop, so you need an event like this in order to do that.”

Maggie McAuley, 22, from the National Campus Life Network (NCLN), spoke as part of a panel about the network. She joined NCLN this year and works as a regional coordinator to bring pro-life advocacy to campuses. 

The pub night is a great way to create pro-life companionship, she said. “We can sit down, have a drink, and be together as the pro-life movement.” 

McAuley knows the importance of that well. As a student at the University of Windsor, she has encountered peers and professors who wanted her expelled due to her advocacy. Though she felt traumatized by some experiences, she kept going because she has a great mentor at NCLN, she said.

She’s also been able to find like-minded peers. During one of her classes, she saw a student with a pro-life sticker on his laptop and asked him about it. They started talking about their common beliefs and became involved in NCLN and advocacy within schools.

“Young people bring dynamism and vigour to the pro-life movement,” said Christopher Mahon, who organized the event. He has been involved in the pro-life movement for almost 20 years.

“The whole pro-life movement needs to really take a step back and do what they can to receive those new ideas (that young people have),” he said.

Mahon said the movement continues to attract more young people from different backgrounds. 

“Coming here and going to such an amazing pro-life event, it really motivates me and it really lets me know that there is hope,” said Recouso. “I can’t wait for the next one, honestly.”

(Gilmor, 20, is a journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.)

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