National Child DayPublished on 29 November 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Terry Mercer
Hon. Terry M. Mercer:
Honourable senators, the Senate acts as the voice of the regions but also of minority interests. We help to focus the public’s attention on people whose rights and interests can often be overlooked, including the young.
Nowhere was that attention more apparent than in this very chamber this past Friday when Senators Martin, Munson and I celebrated National Child Day. Over 300 schoolchildren came here so that we could help them celebrate themselves, their diversity, their impact on society and their potential.
National Child Day commemorates the unanimous adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989.
We spoke of inclusion for all children, regardless of race, colour, creed, sexual orientation or identity. We talked about how children and youth inspire us adults in this great society of ours.
We had cadets from the Canadian Armed Forces, young gymnasts from Unigym Aylmer, and members from the Ottawa Children’s Choir and Gatineau’s children’s theatre company, Artishow.
Eva von Jagow spoke about her efforts to improve access to healthy, affordable food for young Canadians in the Far North through the charity she founded, DueNORTH.
Thomas Ribeiro, a Laval high school student who received first place honours at this year’s Super Expo-sciences Hydro-Québec explained his “Super Plant” project, which focuses on a cost-effective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It was very interesting.
Joshua Salt, a young musician currently studying at Algonquin College, sang in Cree and played a song of love and forgiveness.
Honourable senators, it was impressive and it was fun. But most importantly, it reminded us of what the next generation holds for our future.
I would like to thank the organizer of the event, Michel Naubert, who worked very hard to ensure we were successful in highlighting just how much young people can accomplish. In fact, Michel was the MC for a past National Child Day event here in the chamber when he was only 12 years old. Now he’s a second- year university student and had the opportunity to work with senators to create this wonderful celebration.
Honourable senators, tomorrow morning we will be hosting a parliamentary breakfast at 8 a.m. in the Senate foyer for community stakeholders and educators to ensure that we all work together to promote children and youth. I would encourage you to attend.
As I said on Friday, young people cannot only identify meaningful problems such as social injustice, rejection, violence or discrimination, but they may also have the best solutions to solve them. All we need to do is listen.