Vandergaag (left) and Kloosterman (right) pictured with a 40 Days for Life brochure. The duo was instrumental in bringing the 40-day vigil, which is being observed in around 500 cities across the world, to Smithers. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Smithers Pro-Life Society participating in 40-day vigil to support anti-abortion movement

The vigil will be held outside the Central Park Building between Feb. 6 and April 5

A 40-day fasting and prayer campaign in support of the global pro-life movement is coming to Smithers.

Speaking to The Interior News local pro-life advocates Brigitte Kloosterman and Jessica Vandergaag said the event is a chance for people to advocate for unborn children who can’t speak for themselves.

The campaign begins on Feb. 26 and runs until April 5. It will be held outside the Central Park Building at the corner of Main Street and Highway 16. There is a fasting component to the vigil, however Kloosterman said this doesn’t neccessarily have to mean food and can simply be a fast from something you like, such as coffee or a particular television show.

She said the idea to host the vigil in Smithers came after a friend in Dawson Creek held the vigil in that area.

Kloosterman was able to experience the tail end of the vigil in person and said it was extremely inspiring to hear so many stories about how it had transformed the lives of many.

“She gave me the 40 Days for Life book which is an amazing book where they write [about] how the campaign has changed lives and how babies have been saved when women see people praying [and] changed their mind about aborting their babies,” she explained.

After seeing the event herself Kloosterman connected with Vandergaag, who is also on the board at the Smithers Pro-Life society, about bringing it to Smithers.

Vandergaag said they made it just in time to be part of the vigil.

“I had emailed [them] and said well what does it take to sign up and then she emailed me back one week later and said well this is the last day to sign up,” she explained.

“I was like, well, we better do it now then,” she said with a laugh.

READ MORE: Nearly 200 participate in Smithers 2019 annual Walk for Life

The duo stressed the event is non-judgemental and peaceful and that supporters are there to offer prayer and support to any individuals, regardless of their own personal history with abortion.

They added the hope is that people who see the vigil and might themselves be thinking about getting an abortion will be influenced by the peaceful gathering to think twice about the procedure.

Vandergaag acknowledged people dealing with pregnancy can often feel overwhelmed.

“A lot of women, when they find themselves in a crisis situation, will feel that abortion is their only option,” she said. “I would just like to ask them to pause and to consider parenting or adoption before they make such a permanent decision.”

Kloosterman agreed.

“Every life is precious,” she said. “Every life is a gift and I don’t think that we have a right to just take a life away.”

Kloosterman and Vandergaag say they have a list of people signed up in rotating shifts for the event and the hope is to have people there between 6 a.m and 8 p.m on most days.

The event is billed as a chance to come together during a 40-day campaign of prayer, fasting and peaceful activism to “seek God’s favour to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life”.

The annual vigil was originally started in 2004 in Texas but in its 16 years has spread across the globe. This year the campaign will take place in nearly 500 cities worldwide, including nearby Terrace.

Currently abortion in Canada is legal at all stages of pregnancy and is funded, in part, by the Canada Health Act.

While abortions can technically be performed at any point in a pregnancy currently physicians cannot terminate a pregnancy over 24 weeks without clear indications that the mother’s life is at risk or that the fetus is severly malformed.

There were an estimated 94,030 abortions in Canada in 2017.

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