By Anna Maria Basquez
OTTAWA, MAY 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The pro-life voice is growing louder in the True North, where the Canadian March for Life in Ottawa this week broke its own record, surpassing 15,000 participants, organizers said.
The event, which last year drew a crowd of some 12,000, took place on Parliament Hill, with the main function being Thursday’s march.
From where Alissa Golob, Campaign Life Coalition youth coordinator, stood, the difference in participation was visual: “I had the overlook of the entire Parliament [Hill],” Golob said. “I saw green [grass] last year. This year the crowd was to the left of the gate, to the right of the gate — the entire hill was completely covered. It’s a pretty intense sight.”
Organizers estimated 80% of the crowd consisted of high school and college students. Campaign Life Coalition has visited many Catholic high schools to speak on pro-life issues in recent years, officials said.
“The younger generation is becoming increasingly pro-life,” Golob explained. “They ask their teachers, ‘Can we go to this,’ and they do what they need to do to get there.”
Jim Hughes, president of the Campaign Life Coalition, which spearheaded the event, and vice president of the International Right to Life Federation, said he also noticed the increasing number of youth involved. Many of them, he said, seem to be checking out claims on the issue of abortion with more resources in technology now, educating themselves and assuming roles in the movement.
The impact of a growing number of youth is one organizers said they are certain will be substantive.
“We’re the only country in the Western world that has no law preventing abortion and abortion can be carried out right up to the time a baby would normally emerge from the womb,” Hughes noted. “We’re trying also to get people educated on the issue, get them to run for public office. In doing so, we expect they will bring forward legislation to curtail abortion, on the way to eliminating it totally.”
The crowd marched the streets of Ottawa and archbishops from throughout Canada delivered remarks.
“There were construction workers sitting on tops of trucks, recording the whole thing on their phones who said they’d never seen a crowd so big,” Golob remarked.
The new attention the issue is getting from media throughout Canada “means our voices are finally being heard,” she continued. “[Lawmakers] can no longer ignore what’s going on. Hopefully that message through the media will speak to people and they will see that clearly abortion is not a closed issue and that there’s a large number of Canadians who want change.”
The crowd size brought back memories of Blessed Mother Teresa’s visit to Ottawa in the 1980s for a pro-life rally, which drew 18,000.
Hughes remembered the visit: “She rested in our office in Ottawa, and said ‘I can relax here. You haven’t wasted any money on creature comforts.’ I remember that to this day.”
Hughes explained that the austere office only had linoleum and used furniture.
Gospel of life
One of the youth banquets at this year’s march drew 800 young people, said John-Henry Westen, editor of LifeSiteNews.com.
“[The march] was totally overrun with high school and college students,” Westen said. “The desire and enthusiasm was wonderful. The youth banquet completely sold out at 840. We are going to make bigger accommodations in the future. We weren’t expecting that.”
“For these youth who are given the great inspiration of seeing so many of their peers on site, I think it recharges their batteries and they go back into their schools, into their communities, into their families and share the gospel of life,” Westen added.
The event was the 14th annual march organized by the Campaign Life Coalition. Hughes noted the presence of a number of church leaders of many denominations.
Campaign Life Coalition endeavors to establish a culture of life through law. The road toward pro-life legislation, Hughes said, has been “interesting.”
The group searches for new lawmakers to draft a piece of pro-life legislation, present it to the House of Commons, deem it viable and look to have votes take place.
“We brought forward women’s right to know legislation; unknown victims of violent crime legislation; the last one was on harassment — on people forcing people to have abortions. We weren’t successful with it, but we raised the issue,” he said.
A new parliament was elected May 2, Hughes observed, and has not yet resumed. “Hopefully we’ll get some takers on items we are going to suggest and the debate will continue,” he said. “The most important thing is, we’ve maintained the focus on prayer first, then direct action.”
But, the director declared, with the coming generation, things are already changing.
“It’s interesting to see the young people, knowing it’s important to pray first and then put it into action,” he said. “It all bodes well for the future … I believe it’s very positive for the future.”
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On the Net:
For more information: www.campaignlifecoalition.com
YouTube videos from March for Life: http://www.google.ca/search?q=march+for+life+ottawa+2011+on+youtube&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-ca&prmd=ivns&source=univ&tbm=vid&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=b_zPTfXBF5TUgQew04G-DA&ved=0CCoQqwQ&biw=1429&bih=914