Jonathon Van Maren from the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform was one of two keynotes at the Nov. 3 conference. (Photo by Joshua Witzaney, LifeCanada) Photo by Joshua Witzaney, LifeCanada

Pro-life youth encouraged amidst harsh censorship

By  Kevin Geenen, Youth Speak News
  • November 17, 2017
OTTAWA – The pro-life torch is definitely being passed to a younger generation.

And judging by the response of young pro-lifers at the 2017 National Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, they are ready for the challenge, even in the face of censorship.

More than 25 per cent of this year’s attendees at the Nov. 3 conference were high school and post-secondary students, prompting organizers to create a workshop specifically for the younger demographic. 

“When your movement is based on killing off young people, it’s difficult to replace them when you want to replenish your activist base,” said Jonathon Van Maren, communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and one of the conference’s keynote speakers.

“They’ve left the battlefield to us,” he told the crowd. “The momentum is with us. The abortion rights movement barely exists. It’s up to us to ensure their legislative work is undone.”

Censorship was the main topic of discussion for the youth. In the wake of the University of Ottawa student federation’s ruling on Oct. 20 to revoke the club status of the campus pro-life group, speakers provided a much-needed source of encouragement. 

“We know the same sorts of things have happened before,” said Marc Duteau, a fourth-year student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont. “But every time (injustices) happened before, they were stopped by people just like us, young people who knew what to do, knew what to say, and got out there and did it.”

Duteau said he particularly enjoyed Van Maren’s talk that centred on the issue of abortion and drew on examples of injustice throughout history.

Students for Life of America president Sean O’Hare was the other keynote speaker at the newly created youth workshop. 

Two weeks after Ottawa’s student federation revoked Students for Life group’s student club status, it passed a motion that states, “No SFUO resources, space, recognition or funding will be allocated to enhance groups or individuals with the primary/sole purpose of pro-life activities.”

Despite the ruling, there is still hope, said Ruth Shaw, executive director of National Campus Life Network. The aim is to “bring the pro-life movement to campus in a strategic and winsome way,” she said.

“We are not letting censorship stop us,” said University of Ottawa Students for Life executive Flo Lavergne. “Despite all of this, we can remain active students on our campus and will continue sharing a life-saving message with our peers. The student federation can’t stop us.”

During the workshop, Van Maren emphasized the importance of youth in abolishing abortion. 

“The task in front of us is not impossible, and the reason we know its not impossible is because its been done before and its been done for a very long time,” he said.

(Geenen, 18, is a first-year communications and political science student at the University of Ottawa. With files from Deborah Gyapong)

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