Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer moved second reading of Bill S-1002, An act respecting Girl Guides of Canada.
She said: Honourable senators, it is my honour to speak to Bill S-1002 respecting Girl Guides of Canada.
Girl Guides of Canada is an organization that is very close to my heart, and I will get to that in a few moments.
I have also come to learn that many of the honourable senators in this chamber also hold this organization near and dear.
I would like to begin today by taking you all back to the year 1909, when girls in England demanded to take part in a Boy Scouts rally organized by Lord Baden-Powell at the Crystal Palace in London. These girls saw what the Boy Scouts were doing and wanted to have the same opportunities. Lord Baden-Powell was impressed by their tenacity and initiative, so he asked his sister Agnes to create a program just for girls.
That was the day that girls ignited the Girl Guiding movement, a place where girls would meet to discover what was important to them and explore different things that they could not do at home or at school. This movement became a place where girls took the lead in discovering what was important to them. From the beginning, these girls wanted new experiences.
One year later, Guiding came to Canada. By the year 1912, there were Guiding units in every province, and many of Canada’s most forward-thinking women banded together to form the Canadian Girl Guides Association.
From their very first meeting, these girls knew what they wanted, which was an all-girl organization where they could make choices, have a voice and put their ideas into action.
Today the Girl Guides of Canada consists of 75,000 girls strong, supported by 20,000 women from coast to coast to coast.
Since its foundation in 1910, over 7 million Canadian girls and women have been involved in this great organization. Ignited by the same passion which burned in the hearts of their predecessors, the Girl Guides of Canada are dedicated to creating innovative programming, while remaining rooted in their history and core values.
Guiding empowers girls to be confident, resilient, independent, open-minded and to be prepared. Guiding has long played a leading role in helping girls develop the skills and experience to try new things, with programming focused on self-esteem, mental health, financial literacy, healthy relationships and outdoor experiences.
Girl Guides of Canada provides a unique opportunity for empowerment in a safe and supportive environment, and provides programs that are responsive to issues facing girls in Canada.
Honourable senators, Girl Guides of Canada has a never-ending portfolio of positive and educational examples of programs and activities. Some leading examples of their work include the Mighty Minds, a comprehensive mental health program for girls ages 5 to 17 across Canada, designed to help girls develop positive mental health skills.
Every year, the Girl Guides of Canada commemorates the International Day of the Girl.
This year, Girl Guides of Canada released the results of a nationwide survey that identifies key challenges confronting teenage girls in Canada. Girl Guides of Canada commissioned this survey because the issues facing girls are integral to the organization.
Listening to the girls and understanding what they are facing enables Girl Guides of Canada to be responsive and develop relevant programs that challenge girls to try new experiences.
For Canada’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, Girl Guides of Canada held regional celebrations nationwide, incorporating tailored programming to commemorate our great nation, as well as celebrate the women who helped to establish and define Canada. These are just three of the countless campaigns and activities led by this incredible organization.
The Girl Guides of Canada organization is committed to being an inclusive, diverse and relevant organization for today’s girls. These values are vital to Girl Guides of Canada objective of providing a safe space where girls from all walks of life can become confident, resilient, independent, open-minded and fulfilled.
For more than 100 years, Girl Guides of Canada has known that there are no limits to what girls can achieve when they have the chance to discover themselves and explore the infinite possibilities available to them, no matter what path they choose. The girls are taught to continuously try new challenges.
Honourable senators, we are all aware that girls and women still experience barriers and limited opportunities. Gender-specific programming focuses on girls themselves and their unique needs and social barriers, and enables them to observe women in positions of leadership.
In this ever-changing and increasingly challenging global landscape where sexism exists, there is no question that girls need the Girl Guides of Canada now more than ever.
Today, girls in Guiding discover who they are. The girls set their own goals. Along this path, the girls know that they can become confident, resilient and independent.
Girl Guides of Canada are also revered ambassadors for Canada abroad. By enabling girls and young women to participate in global initiatives, including the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and leadership development opportunities, Girl Guides of Canada provides the tools they need to build a better world.
Honourable senators, Guiding is in my DNA. My mother grew up a Girl Guide and worked with Lady Baden-Powell in Kenya. She often told us stories from her adventures as a Girl Guide, going camping and being in leadership roles in Kenya. When she moved to Kampala, Uganda, as a young bride, she became a Girl Guide leader to give Ugandan girls an opportunity to excel.
My sisters and I were also Brownies and Guides. I was the second Queen’s Guide in East Africa. I was also a Girl Scout in Tacoma, Washington. I learned many leadership skills.
I have been a Brownie leader, a Girl Guide leader, a Pathfinder leader and, more importantly, I’ve taken young girls all over the world for camping experiences.
For many years as a Girl Guide commissioner, I was able to encourage other young women to become leaders.
Honourable senators, Girl Guides of Canada has had a tremendous impact on the woman that I am today.
I stand before you in full support of the Girl Guides of Canada and their ongoing commitment to enable girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, but most of all to make a difference in this world.
The Girl Guides of Canada have requested that a private bill be introduced before the Parliament of Canada to ensure its current roles and procedures as a modern organization are accurately reflected in their governing charter.
Honourable senators, the Girl Guides of Canada’s governance is formalized through a special act of Parliament titled An Act Respecting the Canadian Council of the Girl Guides Association (1917). This act has been amended twice, both in 1947 and 1961. For the most part, this governing act remains largely unamended. In this private bill, Girl Guides of Canada seeks to modernize language to reflect Girl Guides of Canada’s goals and missions; make administrative edits to Girl Guides of Canada’s procedural provisions; and incorporate certain provisions of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.
Honourable senators, I ask your support in modernizing the Girl Guides of Canada’s objectives.
I would appreciate your support in sending this bill to committee as soon as possible. Thank you, senators.
Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Would Senator Jaffer take a question?
Senator Jaffer: Yes.
Senator Dalphond: My question is, why do we need a special act? Could they not be governed by the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, like all other such organizations in Canada?
Senator Jaffer: That’s an important question you asked, senator. I asked the same question when I was approached by them to do this. Many years ago I worked with Senator Di Nino for Scouts Canada. For Scouts Canada and Girl Guides of Canada, you need a special parliamentary act. It does not come under the normal charitable act. You need a special parliamentary act. That is why we are here. The Girl Guides of Canada have to go through this process from time to time, but it has to be passed by the Parliament of Canada. That’s the law.