That’s understandable, given that he is a father of six, and also the product of a large family himself — he was the fifth of seven children in the Dunn clan that grew up in the Hamilton, Ont., area. The pro-life roots were planted early in life in a large Catholic family that was never shy about proclaiming its faith.
“My mom and dad were always very proud of the fact that they were raising souls for the kingdom,” said Dunn, a veteran Canadian broadcaster.
So it is natural that the Dunn roots are deep in the pro-life movement, roots that extend not only to his family, but to his work as well.
His company, DunnMedia, is dedicated to proclaiming the pro-life message. Sons Ryan and Matthew have worked with him as producers, camera operators and editors on a number of productions, which include broadcasting the National March for Life from Parliament Hill each May for the past seven years (the last four years live) for the American Catholic broadcast network EWTN.
Daughter Kathleen has hosted a number of these broadcasts, on top of her work with the National Campus Life Network, while teenaged daughters Therese-Marie and Christina have helped on the March for Life broadcasts as well. Eldest daughter Jessica has her own pro-life credentials. She started the first pro-life group at Redeemer University in the family’s hometown Ancaster, Ont., and for her thesis developed a pro-life curriculum/teachers guide.
Then there is Dunn’s wife, Mary, who is his anchor for giving so much of herself to raise six kids and support him in his media ministry.
“Mary makes my job a lot easier and I thank her for that,” he said.
Dunn’s media and pro-life inspiration starts with his father, Steve, who worked at CHCH in Hamilton. Among the countless programs he produced and directed were the weekly Fr. Meehan show, Midnight Mass and Marian Day rallies. And his parents always steered their children towards the pro-life movement, getting them involved early in events like Life Chain.
“As the pro-life debate and issues came more to the fore we started to understand what a scourge this was on society, particularly for the most vulnerable, the unborn,” he said.
Dunn has carried those lessons to his family. The key, he said, was getting his kids involved at a young age. That meant taking them to Life Chain, attending the Steubenville conferences which aim at growing faith, and learning the science of the issue. This opens them up to discussing life issues and going beyond what the faith teaches, he said.
“These have lasting impressions on young people,” said Dunn.
He sees it with his sons, who helped film DunnMedia’s most recent production, The Euthanasia Deception, a documentary done in collaboration with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Dunn and his boys travelled to Belgium, where they heard first-hand stories of the European nation’s 15-year experiment with euthanasia.
“These stories resonate with young people,” Dunn said.
Getting the pro-life message across through his work has not come without risks. In an industry that has basically shut its eyes and ears to the pro-life mantra, trying to get the message through raises eyebrows and made it “tougher to get things sold.”
“I know there are those who look at me differently now,” he says of colleagues in the broadcast field.
For many years, Dunn worked in mainstream media, including 15 years running a television station in western Canada. Over time, he discovered he could no longer take the media bias “and the complete ignorance of the media towards the pro-life message.” It was time to go out on his own and “produce films that I could be proud of and also ones that propagate the faith, propagate the pro-life message, the pro-family message.”
While DunnMedia is not exclusively focused on pro-life films — he has done productions for such major media players as CTV and the Discovery Channel — the bulk is pro-life and faith films for organizations like EWTN, the EPC and Campaign Life Coalition.
“It’s pretty difficult at times,” admits Dunn. “I know I’ve taken a great risk from a secular and worldly standpoint by putting an emphasis on the pro-life work, but it’s much needed.
“It’s up to all of us Catholic broadcasters and production people to get behind and help these guys and give them a quality and slick branding because that’s what young people want to see. For too long Catholic media has not looked professional. I’m doing what I can to help step it up a notch any way I can.”
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Protection Coalition, is glad Dunn has taken the risk. Calling Dunn “a pretty impressive guy” to work with, he credits Dunn with developing the vision for The Euthanasia Deception.
“The Euthanasia Deception was never meant to be what it became,” said Schadenberg.
While Schadenberg’s idea was to share all this information he had with Canadians, Dunn saw the need to go right to the source and get the story straight from Belgians affected by so-called mercy killing.
“He had the vision, he was right and it had to be done,” said Schadenberg.
“All I’m trying to do is give the voice that is not being amplified loud enough in my own way,” said Dunn.
(Conlon is a writer in Regina.)