WEYBURN - One of the slogans used for Orange Shirt Day, now known as National Truth and Reconciliation Day, is “Every Child Matters”.
This is a profound truth that goes far beyond the issues surrounding truth and reconciliation with our First Nations brothers and sisters, and needs to be kept in mind for every situation involving children.
The slogan arose in relation to the issue of residential schools and how Indigenous children were taken away from their families and put into these schools to learn the white man’s ways and language.
When it comes to schools of any kind, public or separate, or private, or to organizations that provide activities or sports to children, the principle that “every child matters” still holds true.
Whether a group offers organized sports, like minor ball, hockey, soccer or football, or an art or music program, like a school band, drama group, dance or a choir, or an art class to learn how to draw or paint, it’s all good and all relevant.
Each child needs to be loved and treated with respect, and allowed to grow and develop in their area of interest, whether to be an artist or a hockey player.
The universality of this slogan points out that, no matter what race, religion or gender, every child matters.
There are similar sayings around, like “Black Lives Matter”, which arose out of some serious incidents in the United States, often involving law enforcement. But such a saying is limited, as it should be stated that every life matters, and in a very real sense, every child matters.
Children are more vulnerable than adults in that they don’t have the physical size and strength of an adult, nor the experience and maturity to deal with situations, such as a threatening or violent scenario, or an abusive one.
Children don’t know, or shouldn’t know, what is behind the thoughts and intents of an adult who is angry or violent, or is unloving and unforgiving towards others.
They need the opportunity to live and grow and develop in a loving environment – but unfortunately, many don’t have that option. If their family lives in a war zone, for example, such as in Ukraine as it’s being attacked by Russia, or if a family has an abusive or neglectful parent, they are not able to handle the situation, particularly if they are the victim of a violent person or action.
As our society considers its treatment of our First Nations peoples and people wear orange shirts to commemorate National Truth and Reconciliation Day, they should keep in mind that the principle of “Every Child Matters” is always true, for all children.
This is one lasting way for reconciliation to become reality, when our children grow up knowing they matter, and they can honour and respect all other children