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March for Life hopes to set attendance record

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Pro-life march reaches 20th anniversary
By Deborah Gyapong
Photo caption: Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes has been involved since the beginning of the prolife movement in Canada and organized the first March for Life in 1997 that drew about 700 people. Hughes is the keynote speaker at the Rose Dinner this year.
Organizers hope to break attendance records at this year’s National March for Life in Ottawa.
Debbie Duval of Campaign Life Coalition said the goal for the May 11 march is 30,000 participants, up from the 25,000 organizers estimate as the previous record.
Though this year marks the 20th march, “it’s nothing to celebrate, so we’re not calling it an anniversary,” said Duval. “We’ll march until there’s an end to abortion.”
This year’s March theme, “Life: We Stand on Guard for Thee,” was inspired by Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation this year.
The National March begins Wednesday, May 10, the night before the event, with a candlelight vigil before the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa and several prayer services in local churches.
Thursday, May 11, begins with pro-life Masses at Catholic churches, including Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa, Cathédrale Saint-Joseph in Gatineau, St. Patrick’s Basilica, and St. Clement Parish, as well as two Protestant services.
Marchers will rally at noon on Parliament Hill to hear speakers, including pro-life Members of Parliament and Senators, pro-life leaders, and others. The march then begins begins at 1:30 pm.
Afterward, the Silent No More awareness campaign will feature testimonies of women and men who have experienced forgiveness and healing of both psychological and physical wounds they incurred through participating in abortion.
The Eastern Catholic Chaplaincy of Ottawa will end events on the Hill with a prayer service at 4 pm.
Later that evening, the annual Rose Dinner and Youth Banquet will take place at the Ottawa Conference and Events Centre. The keynote speaker will be Jim Hughes, the Campaign Life Coalition president who organized the first March for Life in 1997, which drew a scant 700 people.
Across the hall, at the Youth Banquet, organized by Niagara Region Right to Life, up to 900 young people will hear Steve Karlen, director of outreach for 40 Days for Life, and a presentation by pro-life Christian DJ group Transform DJs.
The National March for Life events will close on Friday, May 12, with a youth conference featuring Dr. Christine Francis, an American obstetrician/gynecologist from Fort Wayne, Indiana, speaking on the dangers of abortion drugs. A speaker with the Life Training Institute, Dr. Francis spent three years as the only OB/GYN at a mission hospital in Kenya before returning to the United States in 2014.
The other keynote speaker at the Youth Conference is Saira Blair, who in 2014 became the youngest elected legislator in the United States when she was voted to the West Virginia House of Delegates at the age of 18. The conference will also feature several smaller workshops for youth.
More information, including a complete schedule, can be found at The website also gives information on provincial marches taking place across the country.



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