Canadian youth take charge at March for Life

  • May 8, 2009
{mosimage}At the annual March for Life in Ottawa hundreds, if not thousands, of youth from across the country gather to show their pro-life support. The May 14 march was to be no exception, with nearly 900 youth registered by the end of April for the March’s youth conference the following day.

It was unknown how many youth would join forces this year to simply be a part of the crowd making their way peacefully through downtown Ottawa. But Yoli Singson, an organizer with Campaign Life Coalition , told The Catholic Register that, increasingly, youth make up a large part of the thousands of participants.

“The majority of the people attending the March seem to be young people,” she said. “There are a lot of high school, university students and young adults and families.”

More than a dozen buses with high school students come from Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area alone. And this year, schools in Whitby hosted a conference just to prepare students on how to build a culture of life. The event was hosted by Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School.

Douglas McManaman, a teacher with the York Catholic District School Board , said that students really understand the issues at hand.

“The vast majority of teenagers today believe strongly in the rights of the unborn and they see what is wrong with the destruction of innocent life in the womb,” he said. “Every year the March for Life gets bigger, with more and more young people attending and it is such a sign of hope. Kids today love truth and if you present the truth to kids, they come alive.”

To cater to the growing demand of group travel to the March, this year the Office of Catholic Youth of the archdiocese of Toronto offered five buses at low cost for a day-long round trip. St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Pickering had reserved an entire bus for its students.

OCY’s Gerard Calderon said no one had previously organized archdiocesan buses but the demand was there for more affordable transportation.

“We wanted to show our support for the pro-life movement,” he said. “So we’re hoping to get 250 people, but the buses are open to the whole diocese and not just the youth.”

University students and recent graduates who wanted to stay the extra day for the youth conference were able to join an Ontario campuses bus for the trek, this year organized by National Campus Life Network (NCLN) , which left from McMaster University in Hamilton and was to make stops in Toronto.

Theresa Gilbert, executive director of NCLN, said her organization did some fundraising to make sure that students who couldn’t pay the $160 for the trip would have some help. Attending the March is always difficult for post-secondary students because it takes place just as some are starting new jobs or finishing up exams and papers.

Abigail Sequeira, a recent graduate from the University of Toronto, was to join the campus bus with a few others from St. Timothy’s parish. To her, the importance of the March couldn’t be more obvious.

“I think (pro-life issues are) the biggest crisis that people of my generation face, but most don’t know it,” she said in an e-mail to The Catholic Register. “I think it is important to emphasize that being pro-life is more than being against abortion or against euthanasia; it means standing up for the dignity of each person in every stage of their life no matter what their circumstance.”

MPs Paul Szabo and Robert Bruinooge, who chairs the multi-party Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, were to speak at the youth conference about their experience with pro-life issues in politics.

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