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Bill S-1002: An Act Respecting Girl Guides of Canada - Second Reading

Honourable Senators, I rise today to speak as the official opposition critic of Bill S-1002, An Act Respecting Girl Guides of Canada.

The Girl Guides of Canada’s governance is formalized through a special act of Parliament titled An Act Respecting the Canadian Council of the Girl Guides Association (1917). This act has been amended twice, once in 1947 and once in1961. Bill S-1002 seeks to make administrative edits to the Girl Guides of Canada’s procedural provisions; incorporate certain provisions of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and modernize the language of the Act to reflect the Girl Guides of Canada’s goals and missions.

As a longstanding institution in its 101st year of incorporation, it is of course reasonable that the Girl Guides of Canada requires an update of its administrative framework.

While I am the critic of this Bill, I am pleased to express my support, and to take this opportunity to speak briefly about the importance of the Girl Guides of Canada.

As a Senator from Ontario, I take pride in knowing that the Girl Guides of Canada – a treasured national institution whose mission is to be “a catalyst for girls empowering girls” -- was founded in St. Catherine’s Ontario. The first-ever Girl Guide Camp in Canada was held in June of 1911, by the First Toronto Company, on the banks of the Credit River. Toronto’s famous Casa Loma was the site of many early Girl Guide events, since its owner, Lady Mary Pellatt was the first the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Girl Guides from 1912 to 1921. So devoted was Lady Mary to the organization, she was buried in her Girl Guide uniform when she died prematurely in 1924.

For over a century now, Canadian girls have turned to Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers to enjoy a safe environment in which they can be themselves, while developing lifelong personal and practical skills. The girls of Girl Guides of Canada are also taught to become engaged members of their community.

I was fascinated to learn of Senator Jaffer’s lifelong experience with the Girl Guides. She is an exceptional example of the leadership development for which the Girl Guides of Canada is renown.

The specific challenges facing girls today have changed since 1917, but they have not lessened. With so much of the world online, organizations like The Girl Guides offer girls the physical space to be together and socialize. They are given the opportunity to explore what matters to them, whether it’s developing confidence and self-esteem, being creative, or learning something as practical as fundraising.

Many of you will be familiar with the recent media stories about enterprising 9-year-old Elina Childs. Childs an Edmonton Brownie, saw an opportunity in the long line that wrapped around the local cannabis shop on legalization day on October 18th. She sold out all 30 of her Girl Guide cookie boxes in under 45 minutes, earning $120 for Girl Guides. That is but one example of the opportunities that Girl Guides offers to young girls to grow, to learn, to make friends, to seek challenges, to volunteer, and to have innocent fun.

This empowerment does not only last while the girls are active participants in Girl Guides. As Senator Jaffer so fondly shared with us, she made memories that have lasted a lifetime and had experiences that shaped who she is today. I commend Senator Jaffer for bringing this forward, and I applaud the Girl Guides of Canada for their dedication to enhancing the lives of girls across Canada.

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