November 20th is National Child Day, and the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) encourages everyone to participate in virtual activities to celebrate children and their rights.
National Child Day is a day dedicated to honouring children and increasing awareness of their rights under The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC is an international human rights law that sets out the broad range of rights held by children and youth. Under the terms of the UNCRC, Canada is required to meet the basic needs of young people across the country, without discrimination, and to help them reach their full potential.
“All decisions that impact young people must be made in their best interests and be informed by the perspectives and opinions of children and youth themselves,” said Dr. Lisa Broda, President of the CCCYA and Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth.
National Child Day presents an opportunity to raise public awareness of children’s rights and to reflect as a nation on our progress to implement them. “We must be vigilant in our obligations to respect the rights of children and youth year-round,” said Broda.
This year has been unique in that we have seen unprecedented impacts on the rights of children due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic, while necessary to protect the health and safety of everyone, has impacted children in a myriad of ways – the long-term consequences of which remain to be seen. School closures, social isolation, and interruptions to services integral to child well-being have exacerbated existing vulnerabilities. Decisions made today, can have lasting effects on children.
As we navigate our way through the pandemic and beyond, it is even more important that we make the rights of children a priority. Article 3 of the UNCRC requires that “In all actions concerning children […] the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” All actions taken to respond to the pandemic involve children. Moving forward, the needs of children cannot be an afterthought.
“Children and youth must be at the centre of all planning, and an appropriate balance must be struck that respects and protects all elements of their well-being. The best way to ensure this is done is to involve young people in decisions being made about their present and their future, and to seriously listen to what they have to say,” said Broda.
Safe participation in virtual National Child Day activities provides a chance to better understand the importance and relevance of the UNCRC. For more information on National Child Day activities in your area, please contact the CCCYA member’s office in your jurisdiction.
The CCCYA also wants to take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation for the hard work and commitment of all those who are working with, serving, and supporting children and youth throughout this difficult and uncertain time. We thank you for the difference you have made – and continue to make – in the lives of our children.
About the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates
The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates is an association of government-appointed children’s advocates, ombudsman and representatives who hold explicit legislated mandates to protect the rights of children and youth in Canada. Government appoints them as independent officers of the legislatures in their respective jurisdictions.
Office of the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth