Address by Minister Paradis: The Right To Play National Inspirational Speakers Series at Emily Carr Middle School

October 29, 2013 - Ottawa

Good morning, everyone.

It's an honour to be here today and certainly in the company of Johann from Right To Play, as well as Perdita Felicien, a two-time Olympic medallist. But most importantly, with all of you—our future CEOs and Olympians.

I want to thank Right To Play for organizing this National Inspirational Speakers Series. It is certainly a success. I can't think of anything more inspirational than a room full of Canadian students learning about global issues.

The way welive in Canada is very different from how some people live in parts of Africa, Asia or in the Middle East. It's important that we learn about other countries, and their customs. It is only through education and innovation that we will make our world a better place.

I like to use the phrase "think globally, act locally." This means that we have to consider the entire planet when we do things because how we act at home can have an impact around the world—for good, or for bad.

A great example of the good is the Walkathon you did earlier this month. You raised thousands of dollars to support United Way and the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. This is an amazing accomplishment!

Your teachers are doing a great job of ensuring that you have a strong sense of social justice and global citizenship. This is important because, as Canadians, you have a very important reputation to uphold.

We are recognized around the world as compassionate, dedicated and generous people precisely because schools like yours support organizations like Me to We, Free the Children, and Right To Play.

Today, you will see first-hand how Right To Play makes a difference around the world through something as simple as sport and play; something we take for granted every day.

One of the things Canada is focused on is improving the lives of children and youth around the world because the world's future depends on the health and well-being of all children.

One of the ways we do this is by working with organizations like Right To Play. They share our belief that we need to protect all children no matter what country they are born in.

Everyone should grow up to be healthy, nourished, and receive a good education. The ability to play and just be kids is a big part of that.

The problem is that not every child gets that opportunity.

A child born in a developing country is thirteen times more likely to die by the age of five than a child born here.

Many of them live in poor villages with no electricity or running water.

Some have little food to eat.

Others grow up in war and violence. Or even worse, they are forced to become child soldiers.

Many children never get the chance to go school.

Some of you might think that's great! But the downside is that they never learn how to read and write. They never have the chance to play outside with their friends. This is especially true for girls, who don't always have the same opportunities as boys, which I think you'll agree is just completely unfair.

Right To Play's "Play to Learn Program" has made a real difference for thousands of children.

It has allowed children to participate in weekly sport and play activities.

It has improved their opportunities to learn.

It has enabled girls and boys to be leaders in their classrooms and communities.

That way, some day, they can work with you to build a better world for your children.

I hope that you leave here today having learned two things: you can be immensely proud to be Canadian, and you live in an amazing country that affords you every opportunity to grow, prosper and thrive.

But with that opportunity comes a responsibility, and that is to help others who are not as fortunate as we are.

Your Government will continue working to help improve the lives of children around the world. And with your help, and the help of organizations like Right to Play, we can make a real difference.

Thank you, and have fun today!

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie