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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 5, March 2007

National Child Day

Monday [November 20] was National Child Day, a day that marks the adoption by the United Nations of the convention of the rights of the child. The convention details the basic human rights that children, anyone under the age of 18, are entitled to. It is a wonderful document. I would urge all members to read it because it details what our obligations as a society are to our children, including keeping them from abuse and exploitation and providing them with the protection of the state if needed. It also requires that there be assistance to parents and caregivers to make sure that children have adequate food, clothing, and housing.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we in BC could hold our heads high and say that—as Canada, a signatory to the convention—in BC our children were getting the best possible start in life? Sadly, that’s not the case. Not in a province where one-in-four children lives below the poverty level and where elementary schools are becoming community dining rooms, serving breakfast and lunch programs, with food donated or coming from food banks. This is not just in big cities. These are our small towns and small cities: Port Hardy, where one youngster wished every day was a school day so she would never be hungry; Prince George, where kids eat at the soup kitchen.

We are failing our kids by letting them go hungry. We’re failing our kids when daycare workers admit they supply the clothes for their charges that their parents cannot afford. We’re failing our kids when they are forced to live in overcrowded or unsafe homes or have no homes at all.

How many teenagers are falling through the cracks, staying at friends, couch surfing, sleeping rough because there is no assistance for them? Because this is what’s happening in BC. These kids don’t see a golden decade. They don’t benefit from five great goals. But I hope that soon we will have a National Child Day where we can be proud because we have invested in our children, in our future—proud that none of them in our rich province is going without shoes in the rain, without a bed of their own, and without fear of another day of hunger. Only then should we celebrate National Child Day.

— C. Trevena, Hansard, November 22, 2006

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