A Letter from the Hon. Landon Pearson
Landon is a real life Canadian legend in the area of children’s rights - look her up online. Shaking the Movers is her project and she is going to be visiting our workshop on November 12th November - how cool is that!
Below Landon shares some thoughts on why she thinks we need to be thinking about your voice! She says it is important for us:
- To think about the difference we can make in our communities
- That we should recognise that we can be the ones to make that change happen
- That through thinking about the rights we all have - we can build the skills to be change makers.
Landon’s message in full...
No one was really prepared for the pandemic. All over the world countries had let their defenses down. Surveillance units like the one Canada set up after SARS were dismantled and so signals were missed. As a result the responses to the threats to public health represented by Covid 19 fell into the hands of epidemiologists and politicians. The good news was the huge investment that was made almost immediately into the development of vaccines as the ultimate weapon. Almost every other decision made was problematic. At first it seemed that the most vulnerable were the elderly. And so they were for reasons that had less to do with the pandemic than with the pre-existing wretched conditions of so many long-term care facilities. Now, after more than a year and a half it seems to me that children and young people are among those who have lost the most. And there isn’t even a vaccine available for those under twelve yet. What is quite clear is that over this whole pandemic, as politicians and experts have tacked this way and that, few of the decision-makers who have been shaping the conditions under which we are now living have applied a child rights lens to the various policies they have adopted on our behalf because virtually every one of the many rights of children that are articulated in the UNCRC have been severely curtailed. As a result I am convinced that we need the input of children and young people to ensure that before a new worldwide crisis overwhelms us we have opened the necessary channels for them to be heard.
How can our young people help to make this happen? Let’s look at the three packages of rights, the three “Ps” as they are called into which almost all of children’s rights fall, Provision (as in health and education), Protection as in protection from violence and exploitation and Participation as in the right to be heard. And remember that these are tied together by the four guiding principles of the CRC; the right to life and development, best interests of the child, non-discrimination and, of course, meaningful participation. In order for children and youth below the voting age of 18 to become effective civil and political actors and advance these rights, they need to acquire real advocacy skills. In the area of provision rights, the right to education for example, young people should be supported to learn how to strategize with respect to making schools more responsive to their ideas. To have their protection rights respected, young people must effectively identify their concerns and demand easier access to a complaints mechanism. And their participation rights will only be secured when the appropriate machinery is constructed so that young people can step on the levers of power. Designing a scenario for action in each of these areas would be a valuable exercise for building strategic skills. Furthermore young people have knowledge that is unique to their generation. They know far better than the rest of us how to make good use of the electronic media. The next rights-challenging crisis will be upon us before we know it so it is imperative that those who will be most affected by it be well-armed, ready and able to propel movers to act in ways that will benefit us all.
Hon. Landon Pearson O.C. September 2021