Catholic Vancouver Feb. 8, 2019

Life Compass sets new pro-life direction

By Agnieszka Ruck

One of three ads now at six SkyTrain stations – four on the Evergreen Extension, as well as Production Way-University and New Westminster Stations on the Expo Line. (Photos by Martha Bonnett / Special to The B.C. Catholic)

SkyTrain riders north of the Fraser River are seeing some cryptic messages at several transit stations these days.

“Hear something chat shows won’t talk about.”

“See something mainstream TV won’t show you.”

 “Learn something they won't teach you in class.”

The 18 advertisements urge passersby to check out the Facebook page of Life Compass Society, a group advocating for the rights of unborn children and the elderly or ill.

According to president Richard Whalen, it’s all in hopes young people especially will be moved to learn more about life issues.

“What we had in mind was to have a name that wouldn’t scare off people who are pro-choice,” said Whalen. “It’s more generic and open to all people of goodwill.”

Recent posts on the Life Compass Society Facebook page include a video of the development of an embryo and the testimony of abortion survivor Melissa Ohden.

“We’re hoping that scientific evidence will convince people who are listening to the rhetoric or haven’t made up their minds” to take a position against abortion or euthanasia, said Whalen.

A few years ago, the Life Compass Society was a society based in Maple Ridge named Meadowridge Pro-life. But when a Coquitlam pro-life group folded and donations collected on its behalf were given to Meadowridge, then-president Susan Kotnik felt it wasn’t fair to Coquitlam donors. She offered to expand Meadowridge to encompass the entire Tri-Cities area.

“I felt very strongly that if we were receiving that money, we need to be doing something for them,” Kotnik said. The group voted on a new name and, as of November 2016, officially became the Life Compass Society. It now has about 250 members.

“We wanted to make it attractive to everyone,” not just Catholics who may be familiar with right-to-life language, said Kotnik. Many locals have life-affirming beliefs, but don’t want to be associated with the loaded “pro-life” label. The newly re-branded group, she said, hopes to attract those people.

“Young people seem to be more willing to listen to the pro-life message,” she said. “They realize, when it’s pointed out to them, that a lot of their generation aren’t here.”

Kotnik now has a 23-year-old granddaughter who is pro-life and speaks her mind with her peers at university. Kotnik hopes the Facebook page can help her, and others, communicate facts on life issues.

The 18 advertisements were strategically placed at six stations on main routes to Simon Fraser University, Douglas College, and other places young people are likely to go.

Though Life Compass Society is largely Catholic-run, its Facebook page is not explicitly Christian, putting its focus on science and sharing news and opinion articles.

“We believe in life,” said longtime member Martha Bonnett. But, she added, “’pro-life’ nowadays is aggressive to some people. Life Compass Society has more rhythm. I think it’s a good name.”

Lately, the Facebook site has focussed on talking points around abortion, but the organization cares about life issues affecting people of all ages, said Whalen. There are plans to bring a doctor to speak on euthanasia at St. Luke’s Church this spring, an event he hopes will draw not only those with elderly loved ones but health care providers.

The SkyTrain advertisements, which will be on display for one month, cost  $15,000.

Whalen said the Facebook page has received substantial traffic since the ads were posted, although exact figures were not available.