December 12, 2017
By Hannah Ruuth and Pamela Lovelace
Oh Canada, we deserve a better and stronger future. Listen to our call to action and hear our voices by reading and acting on the recommendations in the Canadian Children's Charter. While we are thankful Canada signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, Canada's inaction for the last quarter century is demoralizing. Canada lags far behind the most wealthy nations when it comes to the well-being of children, due to Canada's promises made to the most vulnerable in our society but never kept.
Research tells us that when we change the world around our children, resilience follows, regardless of their individual capacity to cope with adversity.
Each year on Nov. 20, Canada recognizes National Child Day, a day to celebrate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada ratified in 1991. Yet, it was only five years ago that a private member's bill put forth by MP Marc Garneau was defeated in the House of Commons to install a national children's commissioner. The Act called for an independent office to oversee government decisions that impacted the lives of Canadian children. Still today, the voices of Canada's children are not heard or considered in policies that have direct implications for their lives. Most industrialized countries have an independent federal advocate for children.
Our research at the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax shows that the resilience of each of us as individuals depends more on the resilience of our family, school, workplace, economy and political system than it does on any individual thought or behaviour. It even depends on the quality of the natural environment in which we live. It's for this reason that a national commissioner for children could provide a much-needed layer of oversight to ensure social, economic and environmental policies are designed to make children's lives better. Research tells us that when we change the world around our children, resilience follows, regardless of a child's individual capacity to cope with adversity.
While we have laws that protect children, at a federal level, we don't have the means to vet all social policies through a child-focused lens. It's one thing to talk about the impact on an entire community of a pipeline or a change to tax laws for small businesses. It's quite another to consider children's unique experiences of the fallout from these social policies. Through our research, we have many examples, which explain our support for including a children's rights lens in policy development.
HUFFINGTON POST, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
Toney Bedell with CBC's Rob Brown
17-year-old Toney Bedell hopes to lay some groundwork and get the PM's attention
It's intended to be like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but for kids, and a Calgary teen is headed to the nation's capital next week to be a part of the development process.
"Children face a lot of different issues than adults, that adults don't necessarily understand or pay attention to," Toney Bedell told CBC Calgary News at 6 on Monday.
The 17-year-old Crescent Heights High School student will be part of a 30-youth panel tasked with laying the groundwork for a Canadian Children's Charter in Ottawa starting Nov. 21.
"I think that it's a unique opportunity and a unique experience to bring Calgary's view to an otherwise Canada-wide organization," Bedell said.
He says issues like anxiety, apathy, drug abuse, education and debt load are top of mind for him.
"It's really a catch-all when it comes down to it," he said.
Bedell hopes to share his Alberta experience on the hot topic of gay-straight alliances.
"It's something that I am very passionate about," he said.
"The mayor's youth council is something that I joined in Grade 11. We've actually been talking a lot of gay-straight alliances in schools. How the strengthen those, how to protect those from certain attacks or certain criticisms."
Bedell says having a children's charter as a companion to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the end game, but the national summit is the starting point.
"That's ideally the goal, but right now I think it's just the official recognition," Bedell said.
"I think that it's making sure that these problems are seen as actually, legitimate concerns that we can focus on and dedicate time and attention to, and get the ear of the prime minister."
CHRIS NELSON, FOR THE CALGARY HERALD
Selected youngsters from across the country, including a 17-year-old Calgarian, will gather in the nation’s capital this month to help create the long-discussed Canadian Children’s Charter.
Toney Bedell, a pupil at Crescent Heights high school in Calgary, will be among 30 young people invited to discuss and frame the charter in a wide-ranging two-day conference in Ottawa on Nov. 21 and 22.
Canada doesn’t have a children’s charter, but organizers hope this new document will help bring about an increased commitment from politicians and society as a whole for the protection of children’s rights and the promotion of their collective wellbeing...
Today, there are six million kids in Canada. While many of them are doing just fine, far too many of them are struggling. Canadians like to think of our country as being one of the best places in the world to raise a child, yet that simply isn't true. In a poll conducted by Children First Canada and the Angus Reid Institute, the majority of Canadians ranked this as being a top five or top 10 country for the wellbeing of children, when in fact we rank in 25th place out of 41 nations according to UNICEF's global index.