Death gave birth to support for life

Patrice and Helene Roussel use their information display to promote understanding of life's values.


Patrice and Helene Roussel use their information display to promote understanding of life's values.

April 30, 2012

COLD LAKE – A baby grows in her mother's womb, and the parents love her and invest in her their dreams for the future. When she is born, this love blossoms. This was the situation for a Cold Lake couple, Patrice and Helene Roussel, in 1985. They were proud parents of a baby girl.

Three days after her birth, she died.

As expected, the loss of their daughter was a hard pill to swallow, so Patrice prayed for guidance. Feeling the presence of our Lord during this tough ordeal, years later he still felt compelled to find a way to give back and honour her memory. Patrice and Helene focused their attention on the pro-life movement.

"It's an honour to bear children, and it's an honour we are given by God," said Patrice.

"For us to see someone destroy a child for no reason, using it as a mode of contraception in many cases, we didn't feel it was right. So we had to take an active involvement in the pro-life movement to teach people to do the right thing."


Patrice's father was a knight, and often advised him to join the Catholic fraternity as well. In 1991 he finally did. The Knights have always urged members to live in a way consistent with Catholic teaching. They are proudly and unambiguously pro-life. Patrice has been active in pro-life at the state level for 10 years.

"The Knights of Columbus is a family organization, so the pro-life movement is one of the most important branches of the Knights," said Patrice.

"At our international level, every couple, every pro-life group that we have, if the chairman is married, we ask the woman to be co-chair in the pro-life action."

Opportunities arise when he can use his influence as a knight to encourage a pro-life stance. He has remained active in the March for Life, given pro-life presentations at state conventions, and writes articles for the Knights' provincial newsletter.

He has also worked in conjunction with Lakeland Pro-Life in the Cold Lake-Bonnyville region.

Patrice and Helene agree that teaching people about abortion is all a matter of attitude. It's matter of demonstrating their faith, showing their love, and leading by example. That same attitude has rubbed off on their three children, who recently persuaded a friend to change her mind about aborting her baby.

"My goal is to make people understand their choice, do it through love, and naturally we also offer a support system. Obviously some women have had abortions and it was not always a choice that was well prepared for and now they are suffering.

"Part of our pro-life action is to give them support, offer them counselling," said Patrice.

Helene said she is in full support of her husband's involvement with the pro-life movement. At times she has had to defend their beliefs.

Just recently she shared her views with some pro-choice women, and Helene is confident that when they were finished talking, at least one woman had changed her mind about the ethics of abortion.


"If they open the door to this topic, I let them know that abortion is not a valid choice. God decides what we have to do. Abortion is not our future. The future is our children," said Helene.

Their personal goal as pro-life chair couple is to teach the way Christ would. Patrice strives to take a positive approach when discussing abortion. He tries to teach on the basis of certain mottos: The future is in our hands. Give life a chance. Defend life.

"If you talk negatively against abortion, I think you're offering an option to a person who's not sure what she wants to do," he said.

"But if you only talk about life and family, and show them respect and love and show them that you care, your message is more accepted. I think we save more lives that way."

Canada has no law whatsoever restricting abortion. More than 100,000 abortions are performed per year in Canada, a rate of about 16 per 1,000 women.

While Patrice and his wife acknowledge that pro-life is a counterculture standpoint, over the past few years he's noticed that the youth seem more respectful of life, doing the right actions and not considering abortion as much as they once did.

The Baby Boomer generation was arguably the worst for abortions, he said, and now he is seeing a stronger pro-life generation emerge.

Euthanasia is another pro-life matter that Patrice is against. He often hears people speak of "mercy killing" or "dying for the right reason." But he counters that there is nothing merciful about it, and birth to natural death is what God intends for everyone.

"Way before euthanasia, people should be considering palliative care. For that to happen, our government should be making sure that we have 100 per cent palliative care before we even talk about euthanasia," said Patrice.

Recently Patrice and Helene lost two close friends. The couple accompanied their friends to the very end. Even in times of suffering, neither of their friends requested a premature end to their lives.

During the provincial election campaign, Patrice approached his local candidates in the Bonnyville-Cold Lake riding to hear their views on pro-life issues. He is not getting the direct answers he sought, unfortunately.

"It's sad to hear that most of them have a parochial attitude. They really don't care or they'd rather not speak about it. Their personal choice may be pro-life, but as a member of Parliament or elected MLA, they prefer to not get involved," said Patrice.


He was left with a sour taste regarding whom to vote for, knowing that he must select a candidate who supports crimes against humanity. After reading a news article on provincial politics, he has since been motivated to choose the candidate who will do the least damage.

"One of our campaigns is to at least defund those killings, and stop paying for abortions," said Patrice.

"It's a personal choice, and we all pay for our personal choices. If I want to buy a car, I pay for it myself and I don't get government support. Most other things we do in life is in that respect."

Most abortions are funded by government health insurance. This is a touchy subject for Patrice who has been on a lengthy waiting list for a hip replacement. He tells people that women choosing an abortion should be put on a nine-month waiting list too.

"We are all paying for something that we are not all in favour of," said Patrice.