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National Grandparents Day
began in Canada in 1995.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Don Valley North, Lib.) moved:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider designating the second Sunday in September of each year as grandparents day in order to acknowledge their importance to the structure of the family in the nurturing, upbringing and education of children.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me today to speak on Motion No. 273. This motion flows from Bill C-274, a private member’s bill I introduced on September 27, 1994, an act respecting a national grandparents day in Canada.
I am pleased to have the support of my own party and that of the opposition parties with regard to this very important issue. It is important that the House recognize the contribution of grandparents and the critical role they play in strengthening the family.
Grandparents have always been important to society. One step removed from the parenting process, they can share with their children the experience and wisdom they have gained. They provide a link to the treasures of family history and can provide an objective second opinion on a wide variety of important issues facing the family today.
Many of my fellow members have addressed this issue and have gone on record as supporting the creation of a national grandparents day. In so doing, many have expressed personal memories of their grandparents and the role played by these most important relatives. Thoughtful, caring and loving, these role models cannot be underestimated in their importance in the development of young people who themselves will most likely be parents someday.
Grandparents have always been important to the vitality of the extended family but never more so than in today’s society. With the increase in family breakdowns the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren has taken on even greater importance.
As we see more and more single parent families, the need for additional support and nurturing becomes more important today than ever. By officially recognizing the role grandparents play we emphasize the importance of this role in society and honour those grandparents who rise to the challenge and continue to provide love, that most important of commodities, to the most vulnerable victims, the children.
If this motion is adopted, as I hope it will be, grandparents day would give national recognition to the growing number of grandparents in Canada. Many provinces and municipalities have already recognized that grandparents contribute greatly to the family and that they are the basic and fundamental element of our society. It is time the federal government and the House recognize this fact as well.
Often when a family breakdown occurs one parent assumes custody and the children no longer have the opportunity to visit with both sets of grandparents. While this motion does not address this issue directly, it is my hope that the official recognition of grandparents day will provide a focal point to the very important issue of grandparents’ rights. If a society acknowledges the importance of grandparents, a certain amount of moral force will come with that recognition. Hopefully, parents in a broken family will realize the importance of the contribution that both sets of grandparents make to the nurturing and well-being of their grandchildren.
We need to express recognition of those elements within our society that are fundamental building blocks of healthy, productive individuals. Other than that of parenting itself, I can think of no more important role than that of a grandparent in fulfilling that responsibility.
As members make their decision whether or not to support Motion No. 273, I ask them to consider the comments of fellow members who are speaking in support of the motion. I am sure their comments will lend force to the argument to officially recognize the contributions grandparents make in the lives of their grandchildren and to society in general.
In closing, I ask members for their support of this very worthwhile effort to create the much needed recognition of the role that grandparents have made in all of our lives. I urge my fellow members to support Motion No. 273 and allow grandparents of the country to celebrate the second Sunday in September every year as national grandparents day.
Grandparents’ Day is a day to appreciate, recognize and celebrate every grandparent everywhere in the world. Grandparents who share time, wisdom, energy and love with grandchildren and great grandchildren; who provide child care while their children work; who spend their savings making sure their grandchildren have “a better life”; who don’t see their grandchildren and miss them dearly; and those who are raising their grandchildren 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, month after month, year after year.
In Canada, more than 65,000 children are being raised by a grandparent or other relative without any parental involvement.[i] In British Columbia, there are almost 10,000 children who are being raised by their grandparents.[ii] This is more children than are in foster care in BC.[iii] Many of these children end up being cared for by their grandparents as the result of a crisis situation involving the child’s parents, such as the involvement of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, neglect or abandonment, drug addiction, mental health issues, incarceration or death.[iv] These amazing ‘grandparents raising grandchildren’, or ‘GRG’s’, have been referred to as the province’s ‘invisible foster care system’ as without them, the taxpayer funded foster care system would be responsible for the care and well-being of all of these children.
The Ministry of Children and Families says that “Permanent, stable relationships are a major determinant of whether children feel safe and secure and a fundamental element of well-being.”[v] They state that, “If a child has to leave their parental home, the Ministry or Delegated Aboriginal Agency (DAA) strives to place the child with people who know the child and will maintain a positive, life-long relationship with them, their families and communities, thereby minimizing disruptions to children and their families.”[vi] In order to keep children with their families in stable and permanent living situations, GRG families need financial and social support that is currently not sufficient.
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