International Year of the Child, 40 years on. What have we done since then?
Forty years ago, widespread concern for the state of the world’s children led the UN to declare 1979 The International Year of the Child. Each member nation was asked to establish a commission to examine the situation of their own children. Canada responded. By creating the Canadian Commission for IYC, comprised of representations from federal, provincial and territorial governments, civil society organizations, labour unions, religious groups and the private sector. The objectives of the year according to the UN were:
- To provide a framework for advocacy on behalf of children and for enhancing the awareness of the special needs of children on the part of decision makers and the public.
- To promote recognition of the fact that programs for children should be an integral pair of economic development plans with an aim to achieving in the long term and the short term sustained birth activities for the benefit of children at the national and international level.
The Canadian Commission fulfilled this mandate in two distinct ways, one by giving over $1,000,000 in small grants to groups throughout the country who wanted to celebrate children and secondly, by developing a national agenda for action to frame our future efforts for and with children in Canada. Since this agenda, we agreed to by all members of the Commission, we are writing to you today to ask you what you have done to promote the rights and well-being of the generations of children who have been born since 1979.
As vice-chair of the commission and editor of “For Canada’s Children: A national agenda for actions” I myself have done my best to be faithful to the commitments I made 40 years ago. I moved from my role as president of the Canadian Council of Children and Youth and chair of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children to the Senate of Canada where I served for 11 years as the Senator for Children. Upon retirement in 2005, I moved to Carleton University where I chair a centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights that has been established in my name. But as I reread “For Canada’s Children” I sadly recognize that not too many items have been checked off, so what I am looking for are positive stories that we can showcase at an event we are planning to hold at Carleton on May 23rd. If you have any, and I am sure most of you do, please share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and plan to attend (or send a delegate) to our event.
The preamble to the 1959 UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child reads:
Mankind owes to the child, the best it has to give. For the future of humanity our children deserve no less. In these troubled times a compendium of good stars would really help.
IYC – 40 Years On – Commission members
Federal, Newfoundland and Labrador, NS, NB, PEI, Quebec, ON, Manitoba, Sask, Alberta, B.C. Yukon, Northwest Territories, PEI,
- Canadian Pediatric Society
- National Council of YMCAs
- Canadian Mental Health Organization
- Unicef Canada
- Canadian Red Cross
- Boys and Girls Club
- Canadian Association of Young Children
- Children Book Centre
- Canadian Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation now (PHE)
- Inuit Tapirisat
- Native Women’s Association
- Canadian Teachers Federation
- Canadian Labour Congress
- National Union of Provincial Government Employees
- National Council of Jewish Women
- Catholic Conference of Bishops
- Canadian Council of Churches
- Canadian Petroleum Association
- Royal Bank
- Radio Canada
- Canadian Association of Broadcasters
- Perley-Robertson, Panet, Hill and MacDougall
- Gowling and Henderson
- Clarkson Gordon (now Ernst and Young LLP)
- Chair; Judge Doris Ogilvy
- Dolores Denault : coordinatrice pédagogique
- Louise Geoffrion-Gosselin: physician