Senator Landon Pearson

The O.D Skelton Memorial Lecture of 1997 was held on March 17 in Winnipeg. The speaker was Senator Landon Pearson, adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on children’s rights. She has been actively involved with children and issues associated with young people for more than 40 years and her speech deals with children’s rights in foreign policy. Senator Pearson describes some of her own experiences as the wife of a Canadian diplomat as well as the growth of her interest and concern for children’s rights. At the end of the twentieth century, Pearson explains, the world talks very differently about children than it did a hundred or even fifty years ago. Pearson briefly describes the history of human rights and children’s rights and the creation of the United Nations, which was founded in 1945 to prevent the outbreak of more global hostilities. Her illustrations of UN achievements demonstrate how far the world has come.

In 1979 she became the vice-chair of the Canadian Commission for the International Year of the Child (IYC) and she travelled throughout Canada to listen to children views. Much of what she heard was depressing, but she explains in her remarks how Canada has become a strong proponent of human rights and has helped to lead the movement to help children and youth.

She states three priorities that Canadian politics must target abroad: 1) to lead efforts in order to achieve an international consensus on an effective action plan that will permit to reduce the number of children that work; 2) to protect Canada’s security globally; 3) to broadcast Canadian values and culture abroad, this third priority is of crucial importance in order to promote children’s rights. The Senator ends by affirming that Canadian foreign policy demonstrates respect for children and youth.

Biography of Landon (Mackenzie) Pearson

Landon (Mackenzie) Pearson was born in Toronto in 1930. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 1951 with a B.A. in Philosophy and English. In 1978, she earned her M.Ed. in Psychopedagogy from the University of Ottawa. Wilfrid Laurier University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1995.

Landon Pearson has been actively involved with children and issues associated with young people for more than 40 years. As the spouse of a Canadian diplomat, she worked with children’s groups in France, Mexico, India and the Soviet Union. In addition to numerous articles on child development and policy questions, she has written “Children of Glasnost: Growing up Soviet (1990)”.

In 1979, Senator Pearson was Vice-Chairperson of the Canadian Commission for the International Year of the Child and Editor of the Commission’s report, For Canada’s Children: National Agenda for Action. During the period 1984 to 1990, she was President, then Chairperson, of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth. She was a founding member and Chairperson of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. She is co-founder and chair of “Children Learning for Living”, a prevention program in children’s mental health operating in the Ottawa Board of Education.

Landon Pearson is Vice-Chair of the Centre for the Study of Children at Risk at McMaster University and a member of the Board of the Canadian Paediatric Foundation. She was a Canadian delegate to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995 and to the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm in August 1996. Landon Pearson was summoned to the Senate in September 1994. In May 1996, she was appointed as Adviser on Children’s Rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.