Calgary teen adds Alberta perspective as Canadian Children's Charter comes together

A Calgary teenager is contributing an Alberta point of view to the development of the Canadian Children’s Charter in Ottawa this week.

'The process of making a charter really isn’t a single person, it’s a group effort,' says Toney Bedell

Calgary youth Toney Bedell is in Ottawa this week working with delegates to develop the Canadian Children’s Charter. It has a goal of making Canada the best country to grow up in. (Submitted by Toney Bedell)

A Calgary teenager is contributing an Alberta point of view to the development of the Canadian Children's Charter in Ottawa this week.

"Overall, there was this unanimous feeling that Canada as a nation can do better for its children," Toney Bedell told The Homestretch, describing the work done by youth delegates since November.

"We all believe there is something that can be done, there are things that must be done, if we want to make Canada the best place for youth to grow up."

The charter is being drafted by young people across the country working with Children First Canada to address myths about growing up in this country but also offer solutions to challenges.

"Mental health is a huge one, absolutely. From mental health we have substance abuse, we have bullying, we have violence, we have failure to access quality health care," Bedell said.

"These are issues that are not necessarily being addressed in the community."

Effort to recognize problems

One of the central goals is to get on the government's radar.

"We want the federal government making an effort to recognize that there is a problem and that the parts of the charter have fundamental solutions. Access to support or resources, encouraging more school or community trustees to engage youth where they are in their communities," he said.

It's been seven months since a group of young delegates met in Ottawa to begin drafting a Canadian Children's Charter. It's a forum organized by Children First Canada, a national non-profit organization working to make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up. Now they are meeting again to finalize the charter. We spoke to 18-year-old Calgarian Tony Bedell last November as he was heading out to the nation's capital. He joined host Terri Campbell again today from Ottawa. 7:04

Bedell says sharing experiences with the other delegates has been incredible.

"The people I have met are just some of the most amazing people that you can ever meet. They are from all walks of life. They are dedicated, committed, inspiring, hardworking."

And talking is the only way to understand each other, Bedell says.

"Conversation is vital to any democracy. To any program or organization that seeks to do real change. Other people who have different opinions from you — doesn't have to be an argumentative thing, it can be a learning experience. The process of making a charter really isn't a single person, it's a group effort. I've learned how to engage people more."


With files from The Homestretch