The Ottawa Writers Festival is partnering with Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Windmill Development Group, RBC Wealth Management, the Goethe Institut, the Ottawa Children’s Festival, and the Conference Board of Canada to launch the Republic of Childhood Youth Forum. Funded by a Connections Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), this collaborative community-based project called “The Republic of Childhood: Imagining the Future of Children’s Rights” will bring together children and youth from Canada's Capital Region with local writers, researchers, policymakers, and community organizers from Canada, the United States and Germany. This year, our writing workshops will engage a diverse group children and youth in Ottawa and beyond in learning about children's rights and imagining a future informed by the voices and visions of young people. The student participants will work with acclaimed local authors and graduate student facilitators to develop their own creative pieces. The participants' original works will be published as chapbooks, and, between November 20-22, 2019, the young writers will be a part of the youth forum, where they will share their visions for the future and discuss the pressing challenges for and concerns of Canada's children and youth. The proceedings of the summit will be captured on video and published here on our website, along with the published work produced by the youth participants.
This project is guided by a children's rights perspective that honours the participation of children and youth by organizing a network of stakeholders who can support children and youth in expressing their views and drive decision-making processes that impact their lives. The 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (November 20, 2019) provides a unique opportunity to launch this innovative outreach activity that will facilitate deeper relations between the research communities and stakeholders in the field of child and youth education. The Forum will highlight the importance of creativity and critical thinking in discovering new ways of teaching and learning.
This project emerges from the tenets of five Articles of the Convention: Articles 12, 13, 15, 24 and 29. Article 12 establishes the right of participation, which acknowledges the right of children and youth to express their views in all matters affecting them. Article 13 recognizes the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of choice. Article 15 acknowledges freedom of association, the right to meet with others and to join and form associations. Article 24 guarantees the child’s and youth’s right to the highest standard of health including the right to nutritious food, safe drinking water and protection from environmental pollution. Article 29 is related to the child’s right to information on environmental health issues and defines environmental education as one of the goals of education.
By bringing together academics, educators, teachers, children's and young adult writers in a celebration and examination of the Rights of the Child, we hope to build a network around an annual event that will provide timely insights into the role of children and youth in creating a more just society. This outreach activity will build bridges between leading international academic institutions, think tanks, school boards, public libraries and international literary festivals.