In 1993, then Governor General of Canada Ramon Hnatynshyn proclaimed Nov. 20 as National Child Day, to commemorate the 1989 Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Child. The declaration addresses the commitment to ensure all children are treated with dignity and respect and acknowledges children have rights. These rights include the right to play, the right to health care, the right to drinking water and the right to education.
|Students from the College of New Caledonia’s Early Childhood Care and Learning Diploma Program were set up at Save-On Foods on Nov. 20 to promote National Child’s Day. Contributed photo|
Students from the College of New Caledonia’s Early Childhood Care and Learning Diploma Program were set up at Save-On Foods on Nov. 20 to promote National Child’s Day. They offered free Play-Doh, which has many developmental and sensory benefits to children (not to mention it is fun, and promotes the child’s right to play). The students also handed out information regarding the United Nation Rights of the Child Declaration to encourage people to be the voice for children, to ensure they are offered the special attention they so deserve.
The Canadian Human Rights Act was recently amended to include gender identity or gender expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination, to ensure all Canadians are treated with dignity and respect. This protects gender-diverse people from being discriminated against and shows how Canada is working towards ensuring all Canadians are treated fairly. However, according to 2017 statistics published by UNICEF, Canada is ranked 25 of 41 countries when it comes to child wellbeing; falling short on the promises made when signing the Declaration of the Rights of the Child nearly 30 years ago.
This year, National Child Day fell at the same time as the provincial co-ordinator Adrienne Montani announced child poverty in the Cariboo remains higher than the provincial average of 20.3 per cent, with Quesnel even higher at 24.2 per cent. Canada is not doing much better than the Cariboo in ensuring a basic child right: the right to healthy food. While Canada shows advancement in other areas (such as those mentioned above), it is time to honour previous promises. Nov. 20 is a day to celebrate Children’s Rights and to remind our politicians that Canada made a commitment to children on paper, it is time to make do on our promises.
To encourage policy makers to end child poverty, email the premier and tell him you support First Call’s recommendations to eliminate child poverty in BC at http://still1in5.ca/email-the-premier/
To learn more about the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, go to www.unicef.ca.