Conrad Elementary students focused on the importance of National Child Day as part of a 5,000 student strong virtual event streamed across the country on Nov. 16.
The online event is to honour the power and resilience of the eight million children in Canada and their rights to “survive and thrive” Children First Canada (CFC), the organizers of the ceremony stated in a press release.
“The occasion also marks the 30th anniversary of Canada ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and recognizes the rights of every child, while also acknowledging the unique rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit children,” CFC stated.
The national children’s charity recognizes the reliance of youth through the pandemic while also calling on the government to prioritize children’s rights, addressing the challenges kids face across the country.
Lindsy Friendship, Grade 3-4 teacher at Conrad Elementary, said she has been celebrating and teaching about National Child Day for more than 20 years.
In past years, CFC has highlighted one of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, this year the theme “#8 Million Strong” was chosen to celebrate all of the children in Canada. During the past year of the pandemic, all children have been through so much yet have displayed such resiliency, she said.
The children in her classroom were able to watch the ceremonies online with in-class learning afterward.
“It just started the conversation for our class on what is a right, what is a responsibility, and builds off the social studies curriculum …” she said, which includes learning about Indigenous people.
She connected the students learning program to Article 30 of the Convention, The Right to Practice Own Culture, Language and Religion. When teaching students about these aspects, she said it must be meaningful, relevant to kids, and developmentally appropriate.
“This nurtures multicultural awareness and fosters respect for diversity,” Friendship said, adding that she typically starts off teaching about the child’s right to play, and with that comes specific responsibilities for children.
“That brings up some interesting conversations, particularly around social awareness, interacting with others and use of material,” she said.
“For us, this isn’t just one day of the year that we celebrate. It’s something that we do every day. As adults, the best way to model that is listening to kids, and knowing that even though they are young, they are still strong, capable members of society. It just looks different right now.”
Friendship said she believes not many people know about the opportunities on the day, and registration is required in advance. She was the only teacher in the district who signed her class up to watch the ceremonies, which included special appearances from Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary May Simon; Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould; Colonel Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut, engineer, pilot and author; Indigenous elder Verna McGregor; Residential school survivor and former member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph and Karen Joseph, CEO of Reconciliation Canada; Canadian paralympian, Marissa Papaconstantinou; Chief Social Innovation and Communications Officer of TELUS, Jill Schnarr; and Members of the Young Canadians Parliament.
Sara Austin, founder and CEO of CFC, said the day is essential to allow reflection 0n 30 years of implementing the rights of children in Canada.
“Today, we are coming together to honour the resilience of kids and their role not just as leaders of the future, but as leaders today. But we must also acknowledge that the pandemic has been especially cruel to children and that we, as adults, have a duty to protect their rights to survive and thrive. Children have suffered immensely, and it is time for all levels of governments to prioritize children.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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