On June 19-20, 2023, the federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) ministers responsible for human rights convened at the Forum of Ministers on Human Rights (FMHR) to address key priorities related to Canada’s international human rights obligations. Co-hosted by the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia, this meeting was anticipated as a crucial step towards advancing the rights of children in Canada.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the participation of four young people (Emily and Clementine [in person] and Lucy and Juliana [virtually] who attended at the invitation of the CCRC. The youth participants spoke about their lived experiences as rights-holders, the actions that they would like to see, and shared some of the findings of the child and youth consultation on children’s rights in Canada coordinated by the CCRC in 2022 (the full report can be found here. Their insights and perspectives were well-received and served as a powerful reminder of the importance of amplifying the voices of children and youth in Canada in discussions around human rights and children’s rights. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our youth participants who bravely spoke truth to power in sharing their experiences before Ministers from across the country.
Another highlight of the meeting was the opportunity to connect with civil society across other areas of human rights, as well as with Canada’s various Human Rights Commissions. Civil society continues to come together around a common vision for the implementation of international rights mechanisms in Canada. There is momentum building around this shared advocacy, and the CCRC will continue to be a part of it.
We would also like to acknowledge the frustration felt by coalition members who attended the meeting virtually and were unable to directly participate in the discussions. We understand the importance of active engagement and regret that not all voices were heard. The CCRC was honoured to be present at this high-level forum to represent our coalition members and advocate for the rights of children. We remain committed to amplifying the voices and concerns of coalition members, as well as children and young people, at every opportunity.Following the conclusion of the meetings, the CCRC is anticipating meaningful commitments and concrete plans to advance child rights implementation in Canada. We firmly believe that without tangible commitments and a clear roadmap for implementation, progress will remain stagnant, and the rights of children will continue to be overlooked. We will continue to urge governments in Canada to reflect on this missed opportunity and demonstrate genuine dedication to the cause by taking immediate and substantive steps to address the pressing issues facing children in our country. Some immediate actions that could be taken include: a new coordinating mechanism for human rights; a single federal centre of responsibility for children’s rights; ratification of the Third Optional Protocol; and meaningful participation for children and youth.