June 2, 2022 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Dr. Daniella Bendo, Assistant Professor of Childhood and Youth Studies (CYS), has been collaborating with a team that includes the Honourable Rosemary Moodie, Independent Senator for Ontario, and children and youth, on an initiative that they hope will lead to the development of a Children’s Commissioner in Canada.

“Young people are ready to be engaged, and as Canadians, they deserve the same protections, respect and voice for which we advocate for adults” was one of the conclusions reached in the report, entitled “A Look into Our Thoughts: A Collaborative Initiative on the Creation of a Commissioner for Canada’s "Children and Youth.”

Dr. Bendo was hired by Senator Moodie’s office specifically as the lead for drafting the report, which included providing conceptual and strategic direction on the overall production of the initiative and report from its inception to conclusion. 

“My focus on children's rights and advocacy – a key pillar of the CYS program – helped to shape the focus of the project methodology as we carried out a participatory approach to engaging with young people. In particular, young people helped to lead engagement sessions, participated in engagement sessions, and provided feedback on their reinterpretation of the findings/insights on what they wanted the report to look like. This type of participatory approach aligns with how CYS thinks critically about meaningful child and youth participation,” says Dr. Bendo.

The launch event for the report on this initiative was held on April 12, 2022. The report comes after a year of work and was developed by Senator Moodie’s office, with various other organizations across Canada brought on for support.

Despite Senator Landon Pearson, O.C. putting forth a recommendation to establish a federal Commissioner for Canada’s children in 1997, Canada remains without an Office or Children’s Commissioner. Bill S-210, introduced by Senator Moodie in June 2021, proposes the establishment of an appointed Commissioner for Children and Youth to promote, monitor and report on the implementation of Canada’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The legislation also proposes the creation of an Assistant Commissioner to ensure focus on matters related to First Nations, Metis and Inuit children and youth.

During the launch event, young people expressed their viewpoints and hopes for the establishment and appointment of an Office of a Children's Commissioner.

“The ultimate outcome is to understand what is important to young people in relation to Bill S-210 and what might be useful for supporting them, but also ensuring that their voices and viewpoints are listened to and heard by decision makers,” says Dr. Bendo.

Dr. Bendo says the next step is to ensure decision makers read the report to understand what children and young people in Canada would like to see moving forward with the establishment and appointment of a Commissioner's Office. Many parliamentarians who attended the launch event were supportive and encouraging of the initiative and report.