By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, October 29, 2010 ( – The Friday sessions at the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, Canada featured a host of powerful and hard-hitting talks from some of the shining lights and rising stars in the US, Canadian and international pro-life movements.

Fourteen-year-old Lia Mills, who became a YouTube sensation after her school speech on abortion got over half a million views, shared how she endured in giving the speech for her school’s speaking contest despite her teacher’s opposition and a judge who refused to listen.

Lia described the anger she faced after her pro-life speech went viral on YouTube, noting that she even received death threats. But while we’re tempted to avoid conflict, she said, “the truth is that as pro-life people, even if we are Canadian, we cannot avoid conflict, but [we must] embrace it in the right way. âEUR¦ My family and I have learned to embrace conflict.”

Rebecca Richmond, executive director of the National Campus Life Network, discussed the censorship pro-life students are facing on Canadian university campuses, evidenced most strongly by the arrests this month at Carleton University as the students attempted to erect a pro-life display.

Richmond said it is “essential to have the [pro-life] message on the campuses.” “The majority of abortions are performed on university-aged women,” she noted, so “university pro-life students have a unique opportunity to save lives.” Further, she explained, universities are “where our future leaders in our country are being formed.”

Rev. Johnny Hunter, president of the Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN), described some of the amazing work being done by black pro-lifers across the US. He highlighted especially the new film Maafa 21, which exposes the black genocide being perpetrated in the US through abortion. “All around the nation, the people don’t want you to know that blacks are getting involved” in the pro-life cause, said Hunter in his characteristic fiery style. “We are fighting this thing differently.”

Faytene Kryskow of MYCanada shed a light on the evangelical side of the pro-life movement, and stressed the importance of prayer and discipleship. Kryskow shared how she felt God asking her one day, “Faytene, who is discipling the nation of Canada? Who’s setting the tone, who’s setting the standard?”

“I remember thinking ‘I really wish I could say the Sunday morning pulpit was discipling the nation of Canada. I really wished I could say those homilies were discipling the nation of Canada,” she explained. “But in reality when I look at my generation, I have to say in all honesty, probably CBC, CTV, the educational system.”

To change the moral direction of our nation, she added, “we need to begin to wake up, get out of the pews, and begin to be the salt and light, âEUR¦ to begin to disciple our nation.”

Canadian MP Rod Bruinooge, chair of the parliamentary pro-life caucus, discussed his private members bill that seeks to ban abortion coercion. The bill, which has its first debate on Monday, is inspired by the tragic story of Roxanne Fernando, who was brutally beaten and left in a snow bank to die by her boyfriend after she refused to abort their unborn child.

“When you can speak about a young woman standing up for her unborn child and making a choice that ended up costing her life, when you talk about that story, I find that people do have difficulty trying to quash Roxanne’s voice,” said Bruinooge. “It’s the strongest thing that I have in terms of this bill.”

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said in the wake of the massive defeat of Canada’s Bill C-384, which sought to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, we are now faced with changing the culture. This next phase, he explained, is vastly different than lobbying to defeat a bill, where you can meet with politicians one-on-one.

He highlighted several key points needed to win the battle for the culture, including the need to: focus the discussion on the likely victims, such as the disabled and the elderly; emphasize the danger of euthanasia for those suffering from elder abuse and spousal abuse; work with people from all points of view; and be clear about the issue.

Peter Ryan, executive director of New Brunswick Right to Life and a board member with LifeCanada, talked about the difficulty of polling public opinion on euthanasia given that there is so much confusion and misinformation on the issue. He highlighted the benefits and results of LifeCanada’s recent poll on euthanasia, which revealed that Canadians are more conflicted on the issue than other polls have shown. The poll also revealed that Canadians are much more anxious for the government to offer support for the sick and dying than that they be offered death.

Tom Wappel, a former long-time Liberal MP from Scarborough, exhorted pro-lifers to engage the political process and insisted this is only possible by joining a political party. “If you don’t join a political party, you can’t affect the history or the direction of that political party,” he said. “If you want to have a say in your political future, you have to be involved at the grassroots level.”

“You are not involved in the political life of your country if all you’re doing is, every three or four years, casting a single ballot, and the rest of the time whining at home about how stupid these politicians are,” he continued. “You have to get involved, plain and simple.”