Calgary teen tapped to help develop Canadian Children’s Charter

Toney Bedell with CBC’s Rob Brown

17-year-old Toney Bedell hopes to lay some groundwork and get the PM’s attention

It’s intended to be like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but for kids, and a Calgary teen is headed to the nation’s capital next week to be a part of the development process.

“Children face a lot of different issues than adults, that adults don’t necessarily understand or pay attention to,” Toney Bedell told CBC Calgary News at 6 on Monday.

The 17-year-old Crescent Heights High School student will be part of a 30-youth panel tasked with laying the groundwork for a Canadian Children’s Charter in Ottawa starting Nov. 21.

“I think that it’s a unique opportunity and a unique experience to bring Calgary’s view to an otherwise Canada-wide organization,” Bedell said.

He says issues like anxiety, apathy, drug abuse, education and debt load are top of mind for him.

“It’s really a catch-all when it comes down to it,” he said.

Bedell hopes to share his Alberta experience on the hot topic of gay-straight alliances.

“It’s something that I am very passionate about,” he said.

“The mayor’s youth council is something that I joined in Grade 11. We’ve actually been talking a lot of gay-straight alliances in schools. How the strengthen those, how to protect those from certain attacks or certain criticisms.”

Bedell says having a children’s charter as a companion to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the end game, but the national summit is the starting point.

“That’s ideally the goal, but right now I think it’s just the official recognition,” Bedell said.

“I think that it’s making sure that these problems are seen as actually, legitimate concerns that we can focus on and dedicate time and attention to, and get the ear of the prime minister.”

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