New Campaign Life Coalition youth director sets her sights on engaging peers in pro-life movement, politics
TORONTO, Ontario, January 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Marie-Claire Bissonnette might have been aimed like an arrow toward the pro-life movement from birth, if not before, by parents who met at Campaign Life Coalition, but CLC’s new youth coordinator recalls a formative moment at the age of eight.
Rummaging through some storage space in the family home, “I came across a picture of an aborted baby’s head,” she told LifeSite. After mulling over the horrific image all day and later in bed, “I woke my parents up in the middle of the night and asked them, ‘What is this?’”
That’s the same question she’ll be putting to young people in her new job, and also to politicians and the people of Canada, using the Conservative Party leadership race as the immediate platform.
Bissonnette, 25, is a graduate of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom academy in Barry’s Bay and Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, two of a tiny handful of faithfully Christian post-secondary institutions in Canada. In both schools and during her youth on the family hobby farm near Brantford, she was active in pro-life campaigning and leadership.
Drawing on her own experience with youth culture, she sees the job of activating her peers starting with breaking them free of the grasp of the social media.
“Many are living in a bubble,” Bissonnette told LifeSiteNews. “They get all their ideas from social media and they only get ideas they want to see.” Campaign Life Coalition’s youth programming uses social media to reach out with counter-cultural information, but, Bissonnette says, the immediate goal is to get young people from there to in-the-flesh encounters that will create “emotional memories” with the power to activate.
For the social media generation, “sharing” on Facebook or tweeting is action. “You can do it super easily and feel a sense of accomplishment. You feel satisfied.”
According to Bissonnette, boys and young men get the same feeling of “satiety” from video games. “They want to be heroes, but the only chance they get is in video games. They can get a false feeling of satisfaction.”
Campaign Life’s immediate plan to deliver real satisfaction to young people is to sign them up as members of the Conservative Party of Canada. “My goal, says Bissonnette, “is to get youth to vote for the [Conservative] leadership.” Youth as young as 14 are eligible to vote in the May 27 event, but they must join the party by March 28.
“We have two strong pro-life candidates,” she said. “Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux both have concrete plans for bringing forth pro-life legislation should they be elected."
CLC is using social media to reach out to young people and to arrange “meet and greets” with them and the two candidates. “We want to get young people more passionately involved in politics, and not just in this leadership race.” Bissonnette said once the election is over that another form of involvement would be helping expose abortion-related abuses in the healthcare system, following the lead of American activists such as David Daleiden and Operation Rescue.
Bissonnette says the best part of her job is meeting people. This summer, she will coordinate the activities of a dozen interns.