OTTAWA, December 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Eric Jette, aged 17, of St. Joseph’s Catholic high school in Ottawa has won first place in the pro-life video competition hosted by Action Life (Ottawa).  The campaign dubbed, “Giving Voice to the Voiceless,” invited submissions of original videos, which were posted on YouTube.  The video challenge was open to all students - elementary and high school - in Ontario under the age of 19.

Jette’s powerful three-minute video was picked for its originality and effectiveness in communicating the cost of abortion on family relationships and young women who have had abortions.  While his submission won first prize, it was a close vote.

“We were very impressed by the incredible quality of the many submissions which we received,” remarked Action Life president, Mary-Lynn McPherson who came up with the idea to run the contest.  “It was difficult to pick a winner and the vote was very close.  I think it sets the bar very high for future contests.” 

Second prize went to Ellis Maveety, 14, of St. Francis Xavier high school in Ottawa, whose compact 76-second video reminds viewers of the substance of the pro-life message by comparing past and current conventional wars to the current war on life.

The Video Challenge’s third place prize went to the “Culture of Life” club at Lakeshore Catholic High School in Port Colborne, Ontario, which is lead by teacher, Kate Purcell.  The video features images of developing unborn children set to the background of classical music.

Action Life’s Executive Director, Louise Harbour, said the board of directors is ecstatic about the potential the contest has to help spur on pro-life engagement from high school students.  “Based on the enthusiasm generated by this event, the quality of the submissions we received, and considering this is only our first year for this contest, I think this is a fantastic result. We are very hopeful that such an incentive-based contest will be copied and repeated by other pro-life organizations in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.” 

Harbour remarked that Action Life received inquiries from BC and Saskatchewan about the contest so there is “a definite interest all across the country.”  “We just need to provide the avenue for these students to express themselves, and it can have an enormous impact on how the public and the youth view this question.  There is really nothing like the impact of youth speaking to youth on such a topic, and this is a great medium to do it with.”

Matt Dineen, one of the teachers who promoted the venture at St. Joseph’s, said he was very grateful for the opportunity afforded students to participate in this first-time event. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students across the province to showcase their creative talents. The results speak for themselves. Here in Ottawa, we are extremely fortunate to have a school board that supports and fosters a deep respect for the reverence for life, especially when it comes to the issue of abortion. This is especially true here at St. Joseph’s where I have the backing of our principal.”

Dineen said that the first report of this contest from LSN was placed prominently on the school’s website and it helped raise much awareness and enthusiasm among the students.  “Our recent Life Leadership workshop also testifies to the commitment being shown by those in the Board’s Religious Education Department when it comes to life issues and the focus on the dignity of the human person. It was there that the information on the Pro-Life Video challenge was distributed and students were encouraged to participate by their teachers.” 

Dineen expressed his hope that this kind of pro-life leadership will be adopted in all Catholic high schools across the province to challenge the prevailing cultural norms which favor an unquestioning and dogmatic stand in favor of abortion, despite the overwhelming evidence that abortion hurts everyone.  “Students are very idealistic and have a natural propensity to engage in discussion about injustices in society.  This competition shows us all that they are now ready to confront the single most important issue of our day.  We could be on the edge of something really big as Catholics in the pro-life movement.”

Action Life is already planning its second annual contest to begin next September and is considering splitting the age groups and even widening the scope to other provinces.  It is urging its members and supporters to help sponsor the event with larger cash awards and even more prizes, and to help publicize the event now so the next contest is even bigger and better for 2011.

All video and other contest details can be seen on Action Life’s website here.