National Child Day—Multiculturalism: N’we Jinan Artists: Important to Us

Celebrated since 1993, National Child Day commemorates the adoption of:

These documents spell out the basic human rights to which all children under the age of 18 are entitled, including the right to health, the right to play and the right to participate and have a voice in matters that affect them.

By ratifying the Convention in 1991, Canada made a commitment to ensure that children are treated with dignity and respect, and are protected from harm both in Canada and abroad.

Children’s rights aim to ensure that each child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Respect for the rights of the child can only be fully achieved when everyone, including children themselves, recognize that every person has the same rights, and then adopts attitudes and behaviours of respect, inclusion and acceptance.

Speaking on National Child Day, November 20, 2016, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Justin Trudeau, said, "Every day, I am energized by the potential of Canada's young people. I am equally concerned by the challenges they face, and deeply aware that the decisions we make today will shape the world they will one day inherit…. Each child deserves to be raised in an environment that is free of violence, discrimination, and exploitation; to grow up with proper nutrition, health care, and a good education; and to have a voice in matters that affect them, and a real, fair chance to succeed.  The Government of Canada remains committed to programs that help every child get the best possible start in life and reach their full potential…. While the world has made significant progress in advancing children's rights since the introduction of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is still a lot of work to do. Millions of children and young people continue to be denied basic human rights – including education, primary healthcare, and personal security…. Canada's future is only as strong and boundless as the dreams and aspirations of our children and youth. We must support them in everything they do and want to be."

The Hon. Landon Pearson O.C., a long-time child advocate and former senator, is currently chair of the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children's Rights at Carleton University. Prior to her appointment to the Senate Landon had been involved for many years in activities and issues related to children and young people. In the Senate she became known as the children's senator and continued to work on international issues related to children as advisor on children's rights to a succession of foreign ministers as well as personal representative of Prime Minister Jean Chretien to the UN Special Session on Children in 2002. She also focused on issues related to young people in Canada throughout her 10-year membership on the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs where she was asked to sponsor many of the bills affecting the lives of children including the Youth Criminal Justice Act. She served on the Aboriginal People's Committee and, as vice-chair, helped to shape the Human Rights' Committee's report on Canada's implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child entitled "Who's in Charge Here?" Since leaving the Senate she has concentrated on enabling young people to exercise their right to "have a voice" and on building a community of child rights scholars committed to hearing them.

Her report, A Canada Fit for Children (2015), reviewed the progress that has been made in Canada since the signing of the Declaration and set out an action plan for meeting Canada’s ongoing commitment to our children.  In the report she notes, “The issues of identity, rights and belonging that preoccupy our children and youth need to be understood as issues for us all… it is clear that the issues of identity and belonging are all about relationships and that relationships are all about us and our children.  After all, we are the ones who, by the choices we have made and the actions we have taken (or failed to take), have created or enabled the conditions that put too many of our children at risk.  In consequence we are the ones who, in relationships of trust with them, should make every effort to improve them.”  She comments that Canada remains “stuck in the middle” of developed nations in terms of meeting commitments to the Declaration, with increasing issues of child poverty and changing immigration patterns.  She states, “we must continue to commit to both recognize and act on our responsibilities to all children, to support and strengthen all families, to promote healthy lives, to build safe and supportive communities, and to encourage and enhance global citizenship education.”

The Landon Pearson Resource Centre has featured N’we Jinan in their celebrations of National Child Day.  N’we Jinan is a nonprofit music initiative that gives a voice to First Nations artists through music and creative expression.  They work collaboratively with groups to produce music videos with a cultural message, offering a dynamic approach to music education.  The program brings a mobile recording studio into schools and community centres across North America, and is aimed to create an environment where youth can express themselves musically and creatively under the guidance of a professional music producer.  They work with participants to create original songs containing messages that focus on cultural identity, language, struggle, love and self-acceptance.

The song, Important to Us, was produced and recorded by N’we Jinan with a multicultural group of elementary school students, about the value of inclusive community.

N’we Jinan have also just released a new song in December, 2016, We are Medicine, written, recorded and filmed with Nuxalk students of Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola, British Columbia.

The Hon. Landon Pearson also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights, the latest issue of which is a special issue focusing on Indigenous Children’s Rights (Vol. 3 No. 1; 2016)

The Public Health Agency of Canada provides a link to National Child Day support materials.