One Hundredth Anniversary – The following is the speech delivered in the Canadian Senate in April.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada is 100 years old and is marking this important anniversary with some great activities.
As I speak, 100 delegates are in Ottawa, and those 100 delegates were in the Senate having discussions, which was wonderful. Senator Meredith was here for that. I talked to many of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and those involved, and tonight Big Brother Donovan Bailey and a guy named Bobby Orr will be discussing their ideas for improving communities and improving lives. I had the chance to meet quite a few delegates while they were here and I was really impressed. Talk about a motivated and engaged group.
Whenever I hear that old cliché that children are our future, I always say, “Yes, but they are also our today.” It is today that children need to be included, engaged and respected.
There are currently 33,000 children in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs across Canada. These programs ensure that each of them has a friend, an important friend, someone who will listen, who will respect them and who will ask, “What do you think?” – someone to help them live up to their potential and realize that anything in life is possible.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada’s approach is simple, and its impact is life-changing.
As an example, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has just released a report on its five-year study on mentoring. Findings in the report include evidence that girls with mentors are significantly less likely to bully and get in fights than girls without mentors. Boys with mentors are three times less likely to suffer anxiety related to peer pressure and have fewer emotional problems than boys without mentors.
As a teenager, I had a mentor, a coach who helped me adjust and make friends after moving from a small town in New Brunswick to the big city of Montreal. I know that I would not be the person I am today without having had that person in my life. I would not be standing in the Senate today without his encouragement and guidance.
We have all had mentors. They matter hugely. Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada gets this. It is a wonderful organization that has helped generations of Canadians live up to their true potential.
Honourable senators, we have so many opportunities at hand to learn more about the organization and the people it serves. I hope you will join me and thousands of other Canadians in celebrating 100 years of Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada.