Defining My Canada: Climate Change

climate change

I think almost everyone growing up at one time or another watched Sesame Street with or without our children. I use to love watching the “one of these things is not like the other” segment. I am not sure it is entirely my fault when I heard that Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia were grouped together that I  thought we were playing a game of one of these countries is not like the other. You know something like warm countries or perhaps countries where you would find camels. So it was much to my surprise that it was these three countries that were not like the other seventeen  G20 Countries at the Summit held in Brisbane, Australia.

There were many issues on the G20 Summit Agenda and climate change being one of them, despite host country Australia’s strong desire to keep if off the agenda. It must be noted that Australia is one of the world’s leading emitters of Carbon per capita. Oh did I mention that apparently in the unique underground town of Coober Pedy currently known as the Opal Capital of the world is potentially sitting on over 20 Trillion dollars with of oil. So Australia may have other interests. Kudos to President Obama and sixteen other countries for pressuring Australia to put this issue on the agenda. It certainly must also be noted that Canada has the Alberta Oil/Tar Sands which is currently involved in a couple of highly controversial pipelines being developed and one being proposed. Then of course we have Saudi Arabia who has long been in control of this non-renewable resource.

Pushing the global financial issues aside for a moment, here in Canada, we seem to have a current government who has closed discussions and research on anything to do with oil. Our Canada which has a reputation for its natural beauty, fresh water and penchant for discussion and diplomacy has become ‘Oil Dependant’. My beloved Canada has decided to choose oil over Maple Syrup.

oil flagWho is the Government Listening to?

It is difficult to understand that here in Canada, a country that has always been known for being strong on human rights issues, the environment and building a peaceful democratic society is being silenced when it comes to Alberta’s Oil. Scientists who were looking into the climate change have lost funding, so essentially been silenced. Environmental groups are not getting the ear of the government while the voice of oil seems to be the voice of our Prime Minister. Canada seems to be a country ruled by lobbyists and big business and has lost the voice of the people.

science

The War On Knowledge: Is the Harper Government Canada’s Taliban?

In our schools we teach about developing a sustainable planet, alternate resources, water issues, poverty and all the climate issues of the day. When this is what everyday Canadians are doing as well as recycling, CFL lights and low flush toilets to try to make a difference, why is our government not doing the same? Doesn’t it make you wonder why our Federal Government doesn’t believe Climate Change is important? If not why not? Let’s see what the data tells us…oh wait information is silenced.

Did you know that:

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Did you know that:

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Did you know that Canada’s image is changing. Other countries are asking Canada to stop doing things to hurt the environment. There are protests against Canada being held globally. Our image is changing. How we are viewed globally is changing.

Is this the Canada we want?

Is this the Canada we voted for?

It has taken decades for Canada to build our reputation as a fair and just society. We are seeing that disappear before our eyes. I want a Canada that I can trust. I want a Canada the world can trust.

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Lest We Forget: Human Rights

Remembrance Day

‘Lest We Forget’ is the time to remember and give thanks to all those that have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much for Canada as well as the other side of the ‘Lest We Forget’, as a reminder to all of us about how fragile our world, our freedoms are. ‘Lest We Forget’ also asks us to never forget what has occurred and what we have fought for so we never repeat the horrors of our past.

Each Remembrance Day it is with deep appreciation that I honour and remember all that was sacrificed to create a Canada that enables me to have the freedoms which I cherish. It is also with that regard that a November 11th visit to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights was a natural way to not only honour our history but gain a deeper understanding of what was fought for.

The CMHR is more than a museum. The eleven galleries are now all open and provided me the opportunity to interact with our history through the human stories that are part of the human experience which served to deepen my understanding and appreciation of how fragile our freedoms are.

Canadian Bill of Rights

Canadian Bill of Rights

‘Lest We Forget’ the sacrifices made so we as a nation were free to develop our Canadian Bill of Rights that along with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines into law the society all our soldiers fight for. Through our peacekeeping missions to the times we must stand-up to those countries who oppress the human rights of others. One can not visit the museum’s ‘Holocaust’ exhibit and not come to a deeper understanding about the connections between World War II and the struggle for human rights.

The CMHR captures this time period by sharing stories of the atrocities committed against not only Jewish people, but the disabled as well as those for their sexual orientation. It tells the story of John Dafoe of the Winnipeg Free Press as he petitioned unsuccessfully for our government to allow Jewish people to find refuge in Canada.

Genocide and War

War and Genocide

World War II was a time of great heroics but also a time where we as a nation remained intolerant to the struggles of Jewish refuges; who the politicians of the day; refused to provide Canada as a safe haven.

The telling of our human stories is very powerful, as you visit the four exhibits that make the fourth floor of the museum their home. Despite the struggles and atrocities of our past, humanity often ignores the human struggles that continue today. Taking the time to listen to the story of Mary Courchene and Residential Schools, as well as the stories of other local and global atrocities, helps one appreciate and understand the journey for equality is not yet realized. Seeing Romeo Dallaire’s  uniform with the grim words ‘failed mission’ is a stark reminder of how fragile our freedoms are. It was a failure of the United Nations which was to serve as the symbol and protector of Human Rights, but instead allowed politics to hide the truth from themselves and the rest of the world. It is Dallaire and others who served as witnesses to a genocide which now is a remembrance of our inhumanity as well as reminder of what happens when our voices remain silent to human rights abuses.

Genocide in Rwanda

Genocide in Rwanda

Spending the afternoon at the museum allowed me an opportunity to honour our history as a country and a global community. It helped me remember the importance each of us have in protecting our democracy. The ‘Lest We Forget’ reminds us of the sacrifices that have been made to bring our country to where it is today. A Remembrance Day where once again we find our soldiers protecting our freedoms and the human rights of others.

The museum also brought me back to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike where our soldiers returned from the Wold War I battlefield to low paying jobs. In made me wonder how as a nation we allowed the soldiers who fought for our freedoms in Europe and made our country so proud, only to return to a Canada and have to once again fight for their rights, only now as workers instead of soldiers. ‘Lest We Forget’ not all our battles for freedom are fought on the battlefield but are also the ongoing struggle for recognition of the human rights for everyone. It is about ‘Breaking the Silence’ so we all have a voice.

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The Canadian Museum of Human Rights is a place for everyone. Visitors were young, old and included many people with special needs interacting and discovering the importance of human rights. Each visitor having the freedom to share and experience the human stories of all people. Stories you may have never heard before but now can see, interact and experience through video, life size images and technology that brings our history to life.

‘Lest We Forget’ our country’s  struggles and all our champions of freedom.  Let us remember the battles were fought for our freedoms and the struggle will always continue for as humans we are fragile and so often place our individual needs over the human rights of others. Let us not allow ourselves to get to a place where we take our Human Rights for granted. Let us make sure that in Canada we remain a country that stands up for the equality of others. Let us not only do this for ourselves and future generations but in deep reverence for all those who have sacrificed so much so we could live in a country founded on human rights.

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All of us are Equal

All Pictures taken by James W Hoddinott at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights

 

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Truth, Propaganda, Misinformation or Outright Lies?

orwell1Everywhere we turn, our minds are being inundated with information. People, business, government and media are trying to get us to hear what it is they have to say, buy what it is they are selling or offer us their ‘Point of View’ on what s happening in the world or needs to happen. The struggle is trying to work through all these messages to determine what is Truth, Propaganda, Misinformation or just an outright lie. This is not an easy task because it seems harder and harder to get the actual facts on any given situation. If you are presented with facts it is often altered or spun or presented from only one Point of View rather than a range of perspectives.

mediaIt appears that our media is at risk of losing its ability to report issues in an unbiased way. Information and perspective can be controlled or limited. It is often only those in power or with influence whose voices are heard. The information or perspective those people provide are tainted by their experience and offer simply one point of view. Growing-up I believed the news, be it on television or in the paper, was filled with truth. It is only when you examine the stories that are reported, the information sources provided you discover that the news we are getting is often very one-sided and is not necessarily the truth. The effort to add comments to the news stories has only enhanced the perpetuation of societal political myths as these opinions by the readers are often filled with messages of intolerance and anger. Is the purpose of the information provided to inform, manipulate or control? Can we tell?

malcom

In the news recently was Stephan Poloz’s statement that unemployed, well-educated youth needed to volunteer or intern for free rather than sit in their parent’s basements looking for work. This work for free statement has caught the public eye and has put a much-needed issue into the media. One can ask with the depth of unemployment of our youth: Why it isn’t already a hot button issue? If we don’t solve the problem of youth unemployment, wasted talent, the long-term human costs will be enormous. This issue like many is filled with truths, propaganda, misinformation or outright lies.

The politicians or at least the politicians in power and media report a stat as simple as 43, 000 new jobs created.  They won’t tell us what the jobs are, how much they pay or who got them. We have been told by Stats Canada that youth unemployment is twice that of every one else. We are not told how many are not reporting or actively looking for work? How many youth are not working and not part of the stats as they have part-time, low paying jobs? We are not told how many youth decide to go back to school, despite already having at least one degree because they can’t find work which only increases their debt and forces their financial independence and ability to contribute to our society to be delayed or lost. We are not told the costs to families to support their children who can not find employment.

freedom

We are told in order to get people back to work we must create a business friendly environment in Canada. We are not told what that means? We are not told that Canada’s business tax is less than that of the United States. We are not told that businesses can increase profits but still cut jobs. We are not told how many jobs are lost as we provide free-labour through intern programs. What’s wrong with paid Intern Programs?

We are often told we can not afford to pay for health, education, job training, infrastructure or to create a more sustainable planet. We are not told that are deficit Federally is increasing. We are not told that decreased taxes to business has not resulted in more well-paying jobs for Canadians but rather increased profits for the lucky 1% who seem to benefit financially as well as control policy and media. The propaganda, misinformation and outright lies associated with the ‘Urban Myth’ that ‘Trickle Down’ economics works for everyone has resulted in many Canadians blaming each other or the poor for our country’s economic woes.  Do we examine and report on the data that indicate whether this policy works or doesn’t work? Do we report on the evidence? Do we even know what is truth, propaganda, misinformation or lies?

We are told that the Tar Sands are essential to saving the Canadian economy and putting people back to work. We are not told about the environmental implications surrounding our reliance on oil and gas. We are not told of the pollution seeping into Lake Winnipeg. We are not told the high personal debt of all Canadians, except those living in Alberta. Does this government policy help all Canadians? What are the actual costs to our current oil and gas policies? Where is the evidence? The research? Is oil and gas where future jobs for Canadians are?

The Future of Jobs in Canada   

From poverty, to crime, to how we live is guided by the information we receive. We are told creating a sustainable country, a sustainable world is impossible. We are told it will put people out of work. We must ask ourselves who is giving us this message? What is the truth? History tells us that when we don’t adapt to the world around us we risk extinction. If times and systems change and we use the same policies and believes we always have they are doomed to failure.

Our country is diverse and requires more than just a narrow one size fits all approach. We need to find our way through all the propaganda, misinformation and lies to the truth for our country, our communities and our people. We must demand more from our media. We must demand unbiased reporting. We must stop having our hot news item of the day. We must as individuals demand the answers and demand the evidence to support what we are being told. We must demand the truth.

truth 2

 

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Remembering ‘My Canada’

living flag 2014Even countries as multi-cultural as Canada have an identity. ‘My Canada’ is founded on certain cultural beliefs and values that serve as the cornerstone of who we are as people. In a world where social media, international news, broadcasts, movies and television brings forward the cultural values and attitudes of other countries which often collide with our own beliefs it is difficult to remain true to who we are as Canadians. It is all too easy to watch the news events and issues from around the world and take them on as our own. It is hard not to listen to the political issues in the United States and not transfer those opinions and situations as our own.

Discussions surrounding health care, education, crime that occur on the news from the United States or other countries seep their way into local discussions and news. A once independent government and economy is now influenced by discussions that may or may not have relevance to our own country. How does a country, how do people remain true to their own beliefs, values and vision for their own country? How do we stay true to My Canada?

Whether we live together in confidence and cohesion; with more faith and pride in ourselves and less self-doubt and hesitation; strong in the conviction that the destiny of Canada is to unite, not divide; sharing in cooperation, not in separation or in conflict; respecting our past and welcoming our future.
– Lester Pearson

My Canada is a nation founded on accepting diversity, valuing democracy and a strong desire that all Canadians are entitled to the freedoms afforded to us through our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and are part of our country’s vision for a society based on human rights. The history of Canada is one where we defend the human rights of all Canadians through the creation of policies that strive towards an equal and just society. My Canada is one that recognizes the right of all global citizens to be afforded the opportunity of peace. My Canada is one that will stand-up though negotiation and dialogue in helping create and maintain world peace. In my Canada when our flag is seen locally and globally it represents a country of peacekeepers and defenders of human rights. In ‘My Canada’ we remember our veterans, our ancestors who fought hard to create a country where we recognize the human right of equality for everyone.

Remembrance 2006

On November 11th we need to remember our heroes, our ancestors who created the framework for a nation founded on respect and dignity. We need to remember what it is they fought for? We need to remember the Canada they wanted? We need to remember the ‘My Canada’ that is their legacy. A Canada of peace keepers, that is kind, generous and accepting of every citizen’s human rights no matter the race, nationality, gender or social circumstance.  I am a proud Canadian, but also a Canadian who is concerned some of our identity, our culture is being lost to a Prime Minister who does not put the safety and dignity of all Canadians, of all people into his policies. A Prime Minister who no longer represents the views of all Canadians.

Harper’s Canada is one that has created and continues to create an increasingly large gap between the wealthiest Canadians and the rest. The creation of Tax Policies that even his former finance minister believed favoured only the wealthiest of Canadians and was unfair. In Harper’s Canada, he ignores issues surrounding the human rights of women and children who are victimized and find themselves marginalized through poverty. In Harper’s Canada, he continues to ignore the issues of tax fairness by not holding companies accountable to the creation of full-time jobs for Canadians in exchange for decreased tax rates and continues to ignore the hording of capital in off-shore accounts. In Harper’s Canada he ignores the long-term effects of ignoring environmental issues related to the tar sands and ignores or silences the voices of scientists and economists who try to find alternatives to the risks and our reliance on this non-renewable resource.

Poverty Rates

In Harper’s Canada the crumbling human and physical infrastructure of Canada’s cities is ignored. In Harper’s Canada the building of communities that ensure all Canadians have the right to an education, health and fair and equal work is ignored. In Harper’s Canada he ignores the government’s responsibility for protecting the enshrined human rights of all Canadians. In Harper’s Canada fairness is no longer the reality. In Harper’s Canada we are at risk of losing all we have worked so hard to achieve as a nation. We are at-risk of losing our identity.

poppy

On November 11th when I wear my poppy, I will remember all those brave Canadians who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much to create ‘My Canada’. I will remember their courage, their sacrifice in order to ensure I live in a country where every individual is respected, valued and guaranteed the rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I will also remember that sometimes the greatest threat to ‘My Canada’ does not come from the outside, but rather our greatest threat to our rights enshrined in our ‘Charter’ can be found right here at home.

 

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I Voted…Now What?

positive 1If we can learn anything from the last four year’s of Sam Katz’s tenure as Mayor of Winnipeg is that as the voters of Winnipeg we need to hold our elected officials to a higher standard than being accountable only on voting day. Our new Mayor has indicated we voted for a positive change. The vote was about much more than that. The vote is something Federal and Provincial Governments should pay attention to. It is a vote against politicians, a vote against special interest groups meddling into the policies of the city or government. It is a vote wanting our elected officials and civil servants to act in the best interests of people.

people1Robert-Falcon Ouellette received my vote on election day. I was one of  36,823 people who voted for a person who brought forth a different agenda. An agenda which was about creating an inclusive Winnipeg. An agenda that said ‘People Matter’. A Winnipeg where decisions would be about getting the information, evidence-based policies and changes rather than the political solution or what makes the press happy but more importantly what is best for the citizens of Winnipeg now and in the future. Ouellette seemed to understand we need to do something different. He offered a change. He was about building community.

favoritsThe downfall of JWL and Gord Steeves was more simple than the media wants to make it. Both campaigns were politics as usual. Each of them seemingly attracted to the left or right of the political spectrum. Their campaigns leaving people believing they wouldn’t be a Mayor of Winnipeg but rather a Mayor for developers or owing their position to a political party, ideology or special interest groups. Campaigns founded on more of the same. Voters said no to favoritism. Voters said no to politicians.

greatDavid Saunders simply told it like it is. Winnipeg’s financial situation is going to severely hamper the new administration. Voters want transparency but they also want the truth to provide hope. Winnipeggers know things are tough but they needed to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Someone that could inspire. Saunders campaign didn’t capture our hopes and dreams for a better Winnipeg. However, David Saunders offers a message to Winnipeg that we must all must pay attention to. David Saunders understands the need to hold elected officials and civil servants accountable every day not just every four years.

positiveSo what comes after the vote. We must hold Mayor Bowman to his promise of a Positive Change. That means positive thinking and positive behaviours on not only his part but by his council and public administration. It means accountable to a more transparent decision-making process. We need to hold him and council accountable for improving our downtown. We need to hold him accountable to changing the current property tax system. We need him to be a voice to finally have Manitoba; which is the last province that relies so heavily on property taxes to fund education; become the responsibility of the provincial government. We need a fairer tax system. We need the province to take their responsibility and fund education 100% and no longer create education polices that require School Boards to raise taxes on property owners to fund what clearly is every citizens shared responsibility. property taxProperty taxes can not vary from School Division to School Division. It can’t be different because of where you live. If you live in Winnipeg School Division that means 54% of your property tax bill is an education tax. Property Taxes also impede growth and the time to change this no longer relevant way of collecting taxes by school boards in order to maintain autonomy in a system that mandates curriculum, staffing levels and required services doesn’t makes sense.

We need to hold our new Mayor accountable for establishing a better public transportation system. We need to hold him and council accountable for creating safe neighbourhoods where everyone has a chance to be successful. We need to fix infrastructure. communityWe need our Mayor to build community. Help us become united rather than divided. We need a Mayor who understands the foundation for our policies need to be ensuring that every person’s human rights are realized. This will require our new mayor to build partnerships with the broad spectrum of ideas and come to a consensus of our next steps as we move forward.

We can no longer wait four years to have our voices heard. We need to have our voices heard every day to remind our Mayor, our council and our civil servants that their number one responsibility is to the people of Winnipeg. All people. We no longer want promises we want action. We want Positive Change.

action

 

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Why We Need a Change

changeDo you ever find yourself doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? It actually doesn’t matter what the activity is, if you keep doing the same thing, the outcome will be the same.

In the classroom if my students do not understand a concept I am teaching and checking my evidence of learning shows me my students haven’t learned what I taught them, what is it that I do? I must re-teach them, but not in the same way. I need to teach them differently. I need to try a different approach. It doesn’t matter if it is the way I have always taught. It is not working, so what do I need to do to help my students learn, I need to teach them but do it differently. Find out what works. Just because what I did worked before doesn’t mean it will work now. Sometimes change is simply to stop doing what doesn’t work.

change 2

When looking at a business if I am selling a product and no one is buying the product what do I do? If I don’t change anything about my marketing strategy, perhaps the product or my approach; unless I do something different my sales, my results will not change.

Well we have an election coming up and if there is anything that can be agreed on, it is that the way we are running our city, operating as a Municipal Government must change. Simply to change the face of the Mayor will not change the way the city does business or operates.

change 3

This Tuesday I will vote for the candidate who offers that best chance for a change. I like many people remain undecided. In the past, I have made strategic votes, voting for someone to keep the person that I don’t want out. Many people vote that way, voting for the less of two evils. This time and I know it may not look that way when people examine the results but I will be casting a vote that will make a statement. The statement is simple. We need change.

I don’t want my city, my province, my country run by politics. The politics of favoritism, back room deals and special interest groups. I want to vote for someone who understands that being the Mayor, being a city councillor is a matter of civic duty and responsibility. It is about making a decision, making policies that benefit people now and in the future. It is not about garnering votes. It is not about worrying about getting re-elected.

politics

There are two candidates who are clearly running campaigns based on political agendas, two candidates who during the debates didn’t answer questions. A candidate who talked about not raising taxes for ten years was a good thing, something to be proud of. It kind of reminds me of the person who thinks by saving $150 dollars a year by not doing the three oil changes on their car saves them money. Then when the car breaks down and needs major repairs that are no longer affordable blames the car.

The other candidate and this was hard to believe when asked about the PST increase said “It is not my place to tell the other governments how to do their job”. I couldn’t believe it. If it isn’t the Mayor’s job to stand-up for the people of Winnipeg, whose job is it? I could have respected her saying I agree or disagree with the increase and here is why? I want a mayor who will stand-up for Winnipeg. I want a Mayor who understands the way things are need to change.

These candidates are supported by special interest groups, and clearly will say what is needed or they think needs to be said in order to get elected. It is about getting votes, not making a better Winnipeg.

We need someone who helps us all look at our current problems as opportunities. This is an opportunity to look at what we are doing, where we are going and do something different, make a change. The high infrastructure costs are directly related expenses because of ignoring road repair as well as the expense of a city addicted to urban sprawl. The expense and cost of new infrastructure required to provide roads, transit, city services to communities further away from where they work. The creation of more transit routes with low ridership makes having an affordable transit system a very difficult task. We need someone who understands building walkable communities means us looking at a different way of doing things. A city with fewer cars, smaller, friendlier neighbourhoods for people to shop and live as we focus on building strong, safe, vibrant local neighbourhoods. Green Spaces, community gardens, community centres and local shops and stores that bring people together and require fewer people to be car dependent. If we want to address infrastructure costs we also need to change how we develop our city. If we keep doing things the way we are there will never be enough money to address infrastructure needs.

We need a city with corridors for public transit as we strengthen the major transportation arteries that will take people to where they need to go. Create incentives to drive less and use public transit more. We need to change the way we see our city, change the way we address this problem?

hardWe need a city that uses planning, data and information to guide decisions. A city that is transparent about why we are doing something. A city that consults with people, listens to people. We need a city where all people matter not just a select few. A city that has a plan to move us forward. This requires a change, a change in not only who, but how we do things.

differentI will vote for a change. My vote will be about doing things differently. My vote will be about being smarter and doing the right thing for people not for politics.

My vote will be for the person who puts our city, our people first.

 

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Putting Children First

Children of the Rope 2 Hashim Hannoon We are all connected

Children of the Rope 2
Hashim Hannoon
“We are all connected”

Children are any society’s most important resource and it is time we started to commit to the policies, practices and supports that recognize this.

Being an educator for almost 30 years has allowed me to witness the societal changes that have occurred which are creating a society where the needs of children are either forgotten or neglected. Those people who have been paying attention didn’t need the recent Child and Family Services Report about the increased number of children in care or the data about child pornography, cyberbullying, child poverty, human trafficking and educational scores that are putting the future of our children and local and global communities at-risk to know we have a problem.

Click here to read numerous articles in the Free Press in regards to “Failing Our Children”

We seem to look at the data individually rather than recognizing all of the evidence is inter-related and will require comprehensive and systematic changes to how we support children and families.. The greatest indicator of academic and positive life outcomes for people is economic status. Simply put, if you are poor the chances are you will struggle academically and in life. This is not a result of intelligence, but rather a result of a combination of factors including environment, mental stress, lack of opportunities, poverty, and hunger. Our newspapers seemly report daily about children being abused physically, mentally or sexually, murdered or missing, neglected in their homes and by the agencies entrusted to support them. Factors such as cyberbullying, child pornography, and the sexual exploitation and victimization of children is making it more difficult and more imperative we rethink how we support, educate and protect our children. The goal of creating healthy communities for children is what needs to be our mandate in not only my community but all communities.

Read “The Price of Poverty

We need to develop a more comprehensive set of policies that create a balance of supporting children, families and their communities. We need all levels of government and our local communities to become vigilant in setting and meeting our goals to support children but create environments at home, in schools and in our neighbourhoods where children are safe, valued and allowed to grow into capable citizens. This will require for us to create systems that support children and families but also we must no longer tolerate those individuals that victimize children.

We can no longer protect individual rights at the cost of societal rights and the rights of children. We need to develop the appropriate policies and broaden our judicial powers in regards to supporting and protecting children.

It is often easy to identify the problems as we read about the results of what is happening because of society ignoring children’s rights to an education, health and safety. Below I will look briefly at a few areas and propose required solutions. There will be those who say it can’t be done, but if we look at the evidence of what is happening to too many of our children, it is hoped you as well will become a voice, an advocate for the changes that must be done to improve the lives of all children.

Children in Care

The number of children in care in Manitoba is more than twice the national average.

In Manitoba, there were 18.4 children per 1,000 in foster care on Census Day in 2011 — the highest in Canada, said Trocme, pointing to information gathered by Statistics Canada. The national average is just over eight kids per 1,000. He noted the provinces with the largest aboriginal populations listed the most kids in care but Manitoba had by far the highest number.

Winnipeg Free Press

We have a system under stress. We have social workers with unmanageable caseloads as well as jurisdictional battles in regards to the care and support of Canada’s aboriginal people and children. Poor living conditions that result in poverty on Reserves across Canada have our fastest growing population group living in third world conditions.

What can be done?

  • Federal Responsibility of Aboriginal People on and off the reserve. The Federal Government needs to pay the costs of supporting and empowering First Nations People to build healthy communities. Education costs of all First Nations children need to be paid by the Federal Government whether they live on or off the reserve, including child welfare costs and supports.
  • Federal, Provincial, Municipal and First Nations having shared responsibility for funding and developing Urban Reserves that are sustainable with the long-term goal of self-sufficiency. Changes aren’t done to them but done by them with support as needed.
  • Follow and implement the recommendations of the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry. We need trained workers, provide needed supports to assist families and communities to keep their children at home. We need to assist mothers and fathers become healthy and strong so they are able to support their children.
  • If children need to go into Foster Care the homes need to be safe and foster parents adequately trained. All agencies supporting children need to be accredited following established protocols in regards to service delivery.
  • Change the support systems based on age of the child, youth or young adult. We need to develop transition programs to support youth and young adults as they move out of care. We need to provide opportunities to teach independence and work.
  • Better and more transparent data. If we don’t look at the data in detail we won’t be able to do the targeted interventions required. We need to target our supports and interventions to make our investment work.

Crimes against Children

Creating healthy and safe environments for children to live, learn and grow in is essential if we are to ensure the long-term sustainability of our societies. Crimes against children through physical, neglect or sexual abuse will require determination and the commitment of every one to say ‘No More’.

Read: Protecting our Children – Are We Doing Enough?

What Can Be Done?

  • Education of appropriate computer use that is founded on respect of self and others.
  • Teaching young boys and girls to value each other. We must change the sexual objectification of girls and women.
  • Put an end to child pornography. We must be diligent in our pursuit of those who sell, buy and produce sexual images of children.
  • We must hold Internet Service Providers more responsible for the content on the web.
  • We must all report those individuals that are victimizing children.
  • We must change our attitude that we can’t control the content of the Internet
  • We must put an end to Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery
  • We must strengthen our support for healthier lifestyle choices. Consequences for all crimes against children especially those in regards to sexual exploitation and abuse must receive harsher punishments.

In all my years as an educator I have never had a student say to me “When I grow-up I want to be a Prostitute.” I also have never had a parent tell me they want their son or daughter to grow-up to be a prostitute. We want to ignore the data that prostitution is usually not a choice. Prostitution generally continues the marginalization of people who have already been victims. We need to change our attitude about prostitution and recognize the societal cost as well as that the majority of prostitutes began by being exploited long before the age of 18. It began when they were children. We need to support the victims of prostitution as well as support the legislation required to make it illegal to victimize women.

Ending child prostitution will require a combined effort of punishing those who are involved and make money from victimizing children but education and policies that support human rights of all children.

Child Poverty

Despite 25 years ago a commitment of government to end child poverty, it hasn’t happened. It can happen but we ignore what needs to be done. It can start by changing our tax policies.

What Can Be Done?

  • We need to increase tax credits for young families (Visit Canadians for Tax Fairness)
  • We need to create jobs – change business tax structures to encourage job creation and heavily tax money that is not re-invested into jobs or training. Provide incentives for businesses that invest in building communities.
  • Joint efforts of government and business to assist with day care and education. Universal day care program which will include increasing day care spaces in schools as well as in larger companies. Providing opportunities for day cares to be at people’s work places. Imagine if your employer had a day care where you not only worked but recognized the important role you have as a parent and you had the opportunity to have lunch and breaks with your children.
  • Business and government involved in job training initiatives which focus on people under the age of 35

We need to put people back to work. Youth unemployment is too high. Wages have not kept up with inflation. We need to develop systems that encourage people to work and be self-sufficient.

Education

We can blame poor results in reading and math on societal issues. In the end that won’t change results. We need to accept the data and make the changes required to bring about better scores.

What Can Be Done?

  • We need to increase the time students write and read
  • We need to focus on the foundational skills of numeracy
  • We need to create safe and inclusive school environments
  • We need to collect data from a variety of sources to see if students are learning
  • Province funding education 100% allowing School Divisions to implement the mandated policies regarding class size, curriculum and supports for student services.
  • We need to create positive learning environments
  • We need all teachers to be trained in teaching numeracy and literacy
  • We need to focus on those strategies that work and stop doing those things that don’t

Conclusion

I can hear people thinking how much will this all cost? The question should be however, “How much will it cost if we don’t do anything?” This isn’t about ideology. This is about recognizing that children matter. This is about recognizing that as adults we all have responsibility to ensure we have healthy and strong environments for our children to flourish in. This is about recognizing we all need to advocate for children. This is about recognizing our responsibility to children and the future.

This is about recognizing that CHILDREN MATTER.

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