United in Memory

Autumn 2018 is a very complex season for our family to put it mildly. As is always the case this is one of the busiest couple of months for business and the heaviest from a travel perspective. However, this year layered on top of that reality is the trial of Teagan’s murderer.

My job has taken me to some very interesting places over the years ranging from Switzerland to Nigeria to Afghanistan to Kuala Lumpur and pretty much everywhere in between. On this Continent I spend a lot of time in New York, Toronto, Washington DC, Chicago, Orlando and Dallas. When I am in the District of Columbia I am always impressed by the monuments and in particular the staging of those many memorials. However, no matter how many times I go there is always something special about going to the Pentagon.

For over twenty thousand people it’s simply the place they go to work every day and there are certainly aspects of it that are just like any other place of business (i.e. food court). But for me the history, power and importance are all palatable in this office building that once was the largest in the world. Surprisingly until my last visit I had never actually been to the the 911 memorial that exists right in the wing of the building destroyed that fateful day. One of my favourite artifacts is the one door handle that survived the crash in that area that is still in use – a special moment to touch it.

September 11, 2001 is one of the most pivotal dates in my lifetime and one that is sacred in my opinion. It’s interesting that we now have kids entering University today who were born after this moment in history. I lived in the Chicago at the time and I can still walk you through virtually every minute of that day. Since Teagan’s death I noticed a different sense of empathy and connection with the families of those innocent citizens lost that morning. In fact one of the first ways I had used to describe for people the impact of  Teagan’s murder was that it was our families personal ‘9/11’. At that time that specifically meant that on December 10, 2014 our lives were changed forever in ways that could never be returned to their previous state.

Now a few years later another aspect to that connection has evolved. There is a sense of community with families who lost loved ones due to evil and senseless acts of violence. This serves as an important reminder that we are not the only ones who have suffered the traumatic, unexpected, and immediate loss of a loved one. Not just loved but the centre of our family and one of the most beautiful souls on the planet. A reminder that although we will forever carry a sense of loneliness we are not alone, that even though Teagan will never return she is not alone in her sacrifice and that in the grand scheme of the 60,000+ years of recorded history honouring the dead and overcoming  the grief are a part of evolution.

So this morning I am thinking and thanking the 184 victims at the Pentagon for the lives they lived, the loved ones they left us with and the memories that will endure for the centuries. RIP.

-Gabe Batstone

Let’s Learn from Our Kids…

Kids, they are blissful, imaginative, carefree, charismatic and intelligent. All of these things – whether we like it or not – seem to fade a little as we grow up. We become stressed with school, work, paying bills, getting the kids to their sports. We put the majority of our creativity and carefree attitudes into a little box at the back of our brains and only call on it once in a blue moon. This means we sometimes lose sight of the important things – the little things, as we talked about in our last blog post- and we focus our attention on everything else.

Although we have so much to teach our kids, let’s remember that we still have so much to learn from them. Don’t you want to have some – if not all of those characteristics listed above? Sometimes we need to stop stressing, put down the book or the bills, and go help your kids build the best blanket fort you’ve ever built. Go for a bike ride, paint a picture or go play soccer in the park. When you do these things with your kids you are teaching them to value the little things – which are really important to a person’s overall health and quality of life – so while we call them little things, they really are “big” or essential things to our lives.

According to the Children First Canada “1 in 5 teens have considered suicide in the past 12 months. That’s more than a million youth”. Why is this number so high? Maybe if we can start teaching our children to retain their carefree, blissful characteristics we can teach them to have a full life, throughout their lives.

When people are happier, they are healthier, they are more motivated, overall they feel in more in control of their lives. By learning from their characteristics and using them to create good habits for you and your child, you are bettering both of these lives. While creating a bond to help you teach them about their rights to a happy and healthy life, as well as teaching them that nobody has a right to take that right away from them – as is stated in the UN Convention on Rights of a Child. If you model what you want their life to be when they grow up, they will be able to take these habits with them and continue to create a fulfilling life for themselves on the base that you provided. If we can teach our kids that they deserve to always remain blissful, imaginative, carefree, charismatic and intelligent, then this provides us with hope that we will have happier, safer and healthier Youth (and even Adults as they age).

Learning about their rights is not only essential to their quality of life as children and Youth, but also their overall quality of life. So let’s remember all the amazing qualities of our children and learn from them while they are learning from us.

https://www.childrenfirstcanada.com/purpose

Kaitlyn Sage

The importance of the small things…

As I have been researching about the topic of children’s rights-and being informed about how much better Canadians could be doing in molding and protecting our children – I’ve found myself being more aware of all the other horrible/negative things that are happening in our world right now. It’s easy to turn a blind eye when your day to day life is going pretty well and you are only focused on the task at hand; finishing work, getting dinner made, and making sure your family is well fed and rested to start again tomorrow.

Now that I have more knowledge on the topic of children’s rights and children’s safety all I want to do is help make a change. I’ll admit my knowledge on the subject of children’s rights is still very superficial, but I am going to continue to learn about it (as I hope some of you reading this will do too), I really think everyone should research the topic more. If more of us are informed, more of us can help make change. Knowledge is power, and in my last two posts, I have talked about Adults/siblings/teachers informing their children of their rights because of the fact that knowledge is power. But in order to fully educate them, we must be fully educated ourselves. As the saying goes “practice what you preach”.

As I said, while I have been researching this topic I have been focusing on negative things in life lately, when usually I try to focus on positives no matter how hard the situation is. This has taught me-once again-that within all the bad we need to stress the importance of happiness and positivity. And the fact that positivity and happiness are fundamental – along with knowledge – to ensuring kids have an amazing life. Yes, in order for these things to happen we need to make sure all of their rights are adhered to, and that they are safe with all the possible necessities of life, but along with that we also need to teach them to focus on all the great things in life, no matter how small they are. Every single moment passes. Every single moment is important and life-changing in different ways. You just may not know it until the moment has passed.

Let’s remember to not let any moment just slip past us, don’t only focus on the negatives in life, remember to continue learning about how to make our children have a safe, healthy and happy life; but also remember to do the same for yourself. Kids learn by example. If we show them that their safety and health are important, along with their happiness, hopefully, we can further secure a life of greatness for them.

 

Kaitlyn Sage

While we are on the topic of Children’s Rights…

The UN Convention on Rights of the Child is meant to create equality and allow all children their right to be safe and protected, to live, and to grow.

Unfortunately, these rights are constantly being violated. Teagan’s Batstone’s rights were violated time and time again, by her biological mother and also by how the Canadian judicial system is currently set up.

Article 6, states that all children have the right to live. Teagan’s biological Mother clearly violated this right (when she killed her), but this article also states that it is the government’s job to safeguard children, making sure they are surviving and developing. The government unfortunately also failed in this regard, as Teagan was required to go back into an unstable environment.

Article 9, states children can live with parents unless it is an unacceptable place for a child. Having a mother who was battling mental health issues (such as trying to kill herself) is considered an acceptable environment for a child?

Teagan had a healthy, safe, loving home environment she could have gone to (and had been in while she was in the custody of her father), but the judicial system we have was making it impossible to allow that. Teagan had to go back to her mother while Gabe and Stephanie Batstone fought for her safety.

Article 12, children have the right to their opinion and the right for adults to listen and believe in the validity of their expressions. If children are educated more thoroughly at a younger age about their rights, maybe Teagan would have felt she could push for her opinion to be heard? Her voice was not heard, nobody had actually consulted her on her living situation, even though the case was pertaining to her wellbeing.

Article 19, children have the right to protection from all forms of violence, whether it is physically or mentally. The Bastone’s tried to protect Teagan from this kind of maltreatment, but the judicial system once again allowed a violation of this right to occur.

Article 27, children have a right to a standard of living that will meet their needs: physically and mentally. An adequate standard of living was not being met in Teagan’s case, if the government helps in ways like welfare and unemployment pay, then why can’t they ensure a parent is capable of remaining as primary caregiver – of their child – in a timely manner?

These are a few of Teagan’s rights that were violated and with her death, her right to education and play were also taken away (Article 29 (Goals of education), Article 31, (Leisure, play and culture)).

This blog post shows that 7/54 of Teagan’s rights were violated, approximately 13%. That may not seem like a large percentage – even though it is, as no rights should ever be violated -, but the fact that her right to live was one of those rights pushes that percentage to a breaking point. A human’s right to life cannot be measured as a percentage, ratio or anything else for that matter. A human life is unquantifiable. A human life just is. All humans have a right to life. With this right violated, all other rights are insignificant because there would not be a need. With the absence of life, we have nothing.

This is why our rights are so important. They allow our lives to be filled with immeasurable love, growth and equality, and this is why it is so important to teach rights at a young age and adhere to these rights in every aspect of our lives. All children (all humans) have a right to their lives and to their rights. Allowing them to live the best possible life they can and create a future where everyone’s rights are understood, followed and equally respected.

Click to access crc.pdf

– Kaitlyn Sage

The Right to Rights 

As humans we all have basic human rights; this is set out in the United Nations International Bill of Human Rights signed in 1948. Excerpts from this important document include:

    • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
    • Article 2, which sets out the basic principle of equality and non discrimination as regards the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, forbids “distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.
    • Article 3, the first cornerstone of the Declaration, proclaims the right to life, liberty and security of person – a right essential to the enjoyment of all other rights.

This article introduces articles 4 to 21, in which other civil and political rights are set out, including: freedom from slavery and servitude; freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law; the right to an effective judicial remedy; freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile; the right to a fair trial and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal; the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty; freedom from arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence; freedom of movement and residence; the right of asylum; the right to a nationality; the right to marry and to found a family; the right to own property; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of opinion and expression; the right to peaceful assembly and association; and the right to take part in the government of one’s country and to equal access to public service in one’s country.

    • Article 22, the second cornerstone of the Declaration, introduces articles 23 to 27, in which economic, social and cultural rights – the rights to which everyone is entitled “as a member of society” – are set out. The article characterizes these rights as indispensable for human dignity and the free development of personality, and indicates that they are to be realized “through national effort and international cooperation”. At the same time, it points out the limitations of realization, the extent of which depends on the resources of each State.

The economic, social and cultural rights recognized in articles 22 to 27 include the right to social security; the right to work; the right to equal pay for equal work; the right to rest and leisure; the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being; the right to education; and the right to participate in the cultural life of the community.

In addition to this comprehensive document – http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/–  Children also have a specific convention dedicated to their interest –  UN Convention on the Rights of a Child – https://www.unicef.ca/sites/default/files/imce_uploads/UTILITY%20NAV/TEACHERS/DOCS/GC/CRCPosterEN_FA.pdf .

In some countries, there are actually laws and restrictions violating these rights, while in Canada, there are laws protecting our rights. A fundamental part of the Canadian Constitution is the ‘Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’, which calls for discrimination and harassment-free environments among other things. Canada also has, ‘The Canadian Human Rights Act’, this act calls for freedom and equality for all human beings.

The UN Convention on Rights of a Child is intended to protect our children and allow for their safety and wellbeing. All children (under 18) have these rights no matter what (Article 2 of The UN Children’s Rights). With 30 Human Rights and 54 children’s rights, why are our children still being harmed so often? Why is a country as wealthy as Canada not meeting these obligations to its own children. People often perceive these problems as isolated to the developing world when in fact it exists today in every single country on the planet.

Well, the answer is that these rights are not being respected. This is something Teagan’s Voice is trying to change. Teagan’s Voice wants to create change within all aspects of our child welfare systems including the judiciary, giving children a voice in matters pertaining to their overall well-being. As well as ensuring the basic structure and rules of the system respect and adhere to all children’s rights. These changes will further support our children’s rights and assure that they grow up in a safe, nurturing environment free from abuse no matter where they live.

UNICEF has launched the movement called One Youth, where they have shown us that out of the 41 rich nations, Canada is ranked 25th in the wellbeing of our children. We have laws and rights implemented to help our youth stay protected and yet we are ranked in the bottom half – this is not well-known nor is it acceptable.

Not only is the current legal environment expensive and complex but it is also tragically uncoordinated; in Teagan’s case, for example, most court hearings involved different judges with little background on the case let alone the time or data to make an informed decision. Setting aside that children are left out of most of the legal process (some which are warranted) but the vast majority of children are not aware of their rights. How can they stand up for themselves when they don’t know that they can?

Out of curiosity I recently asked 5 children between the ages of 8 and 12 if they knew about their rights or if they even knew what rights were. None of them did. These are children who have been in school for years already and have not learnt about their rights. We need to start incorporating lessons for our children in school, but we also need to be teaching them outside of school. Parents, Guardians, Grandparents and older siblings, we need to be teaching our children about their rights, so that they are able to use them and know when those rights are being violated.

We have to keep our Youth and Children safe, they are our future. When our children are informed, they will know when their rights are not being respected. This will allow them to fight for their own rights when nobody else is. We as Canadians have to give children the knowledge and tools to be able to keep themselves safe and understood. This will build their confidence in the system, which is built to help people, and allow the rights to do their job: keep people safe.

In order for this to happen we, as a nation, need to be doing all we can to ensure all children’s rights are followed. When they are not followed we need to make a change, which exactly what Teagan’s Voice is trying to do. Help us keep our children safe. Help us keep our children loved. Help us keep them informed. Help us give our children the confidence to express their rights.

Kaitlyn Sage

Content Marketing Manager