Every child matters.

That’s why National Child Day, observed on Nov. 20, holds special meaning for Indigenous children, according to Wraychel Horne, spokesperson for Children First Canada.

“It’s an acknowledgement that there are populations of children and youth that are disproportionately disadvantaged,” she said. “And as the country becomes more engaged, more aware and more active in bringing the (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) to life, we felt that it was an important act of reconciliation that we include elements to recognize the history that we’re learning about collectively as a nation, about what is still happening in our country to Indigenous children and youth.”

Children First Canada is putting special emphasis on the rights of Indigenous children and youth for National Child Day. That’s why during the month of November, the organization is encouraging people to support a list a of Indigenous organizations, including Indspire, a nationally registered organization known for its charitable work in the North, and elsewhere.

From children’s rights initiatives and activities to educational projects, there are many ways to observe National Child Day, said Horne.

People can wear a blue shirt for the occasion as a way show support and acknowledge what the day represents.

A national kickoff event on Nov. 15 launched celebrations leading up to National Child Day. Speakers at the online event were to include Marci Ien, minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; and Kayla Alexander, an Olympian and current member of the Canadian Senior Women’s National Basketball Team.

Participants were also to be treated to messages from Adelyn Newman-Ting, who at the tender age of 12, is already an award-winning Indigenous author, and Carey Newman, an Indigenous artist and creator of the Witness Blanket.

“The Witness Blanket is this historic piece of art,” said Horne. “It acts as a physical bearing of witness to the history of residential schools in Canada. It is a massive wall-art installation… these physical objects that all tell a unique story.”

National Child Day celebrates and safeguards the rights of children in Canada.

It was established by the federal government in 1993 in response to two important events: the 1959 signing of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. These documents outline the basic human rights to which children across the world are entitled.

Horne said the theme for this year’s celebration – 8 Million Rising – was chosen out of recognition that there are now eight million children and youth in the country.

“They make up 25 per cent of our population, but they’re 100 per cent of our future,” she said. “And the fact is that they’re already leaders right now. Yes, they are our future business leaders, teachers, doctors, politicians, activists, but already they’re leaders in their schools, in their communities, and also at the national level on issues like social justice and human rights.”

“There is a rising voice of eight million citizens in this country that is going to get heard,” she continued. “And I think the best way that anyone can observe this holiday is to celebrate the amazing leaders that children and youth are in their own ways in their own communities.”

Community events

In the leadup to the day, organizations are hosting events throughout the North.

Briony Grabke, spokesperson for Department of Education, Culture and Employment, said all the events are free including the grand finale.

In an email, Grabke wrote that the “Open Doors Society is hosting a National Child Day community event on Nov. 19 at the Fort Simpson Recreation Centre. Various community organizations, including a representative from ECE, are helping with this event to prepare activities for the children and families including a bouncy house, face painting, craft table and games.

“Nahanni Butte Early Learning Playgroup/Recreation Coordinator is hosting a community walk and cookout with smores on November 19 for kids and families,” she continued.

Past initiatives have included events in communities, support for early learning and child care operators and displays of children’s artwork at the legislative assembly.

This year’s theme is the right to participate. You can learn more at nationalchildday.ca.

Leave a comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.