Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Making a Difference

This year I have been learning about the Canadian Government.  I started by learning about the three levels of Government - Municipal, Territorial/Provincial and Federal.  In November I had a chance to be active with our Government when I participated in a housing demonstration during Poverty & Homelessness Action Week.  Lots of people gathered at the Legislative building.  Everybody brought boxes and we used exact-o-knives and permanent markers to make cardboard box houses to show that some people have to live like this.

Lately I have been learning about Canada's foreign relationships and about International Development.  I learned about foreign trade, which is when one country has something that is really valuable to other countries - for example: gold, fur, vegetables, oil, gas and precious metals.  I also learned about two types of trade - Free Trade and Fair Trade.

Fair trade is when the people that make the items being sold get paid a fair amount.  It also makes sure they have enough money to be treated properly and are able to keep running their business and have money to put towards things like health care and education.

Free trade means that there aren't many rules for trading. For example, Canada can sell our things to almost any country in the world. This seems really good ...but there is a bad side too.  Companies can buy items or make them cheaper in poorer countries and then sell them to other places for lots more money.  I don't think it is fair that the people who made the items didn't get paid very well for them.  It also isn't fair for the people buying the items to have to pay so much money and they might not know how badly people were paid for making the things they are buying. Finally, it's not fair for the people in Canada if jobs are given to people in other countries to make things for our Country to sell.  We need jobs here too.  From what I have learnt so far, I think Fair Trade sounds much better.

As I mentioned, something else I have learnt about while studying the Canadian Government is International Development.  February 1st - 7th is International Development Week (IDW).  This year is it's 25th Anniversary of helping support children and women’s health in poor countries.
IDW gives us the chance to celebrate the international development achievements of Canada and Canadians, especially in improving the health of women and children.

While learning this, my mom and I came across an organization called Free the Children (http://www.freethechildren.com/), which was started by Craig Keilburger when he was only 12 years old.  Free the Children helps children working in child labour to be free and it also gives money to poor families and villages.  It started when Craig Keilburger was reading the Toronto Star.  He found an article about a boy his age in child labour who spoke out.  The boy's name was Iqbal.
Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four.  In his short life, he had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom.  Iqbal captured the world's attention by speaking out for children's rights.  Eventually, Iqbal's wide media coverage caught the attention of those who wished to silence him.  At 12, Iqbal lost his life defending the rights of children.  I thought that was really sad and decided to help Craig on his journey.

I decided to make a change.  I thought that if Craig Keilburger could do it when he was only 1 year older than me, I could do it too.  So, I wrote a letter to our MP, our Mayor and our Premier asking them if I could leave collection jars in their buildings to raise money for Free the Children during International Development Week.  Our MP, Ryan Leef said that I couldn't leave a jar in his building but that he would personally donate $50.  Our Mayor also said I couldn't put jars in the City buildings but instead he invited me to come as a delegate to the next City Council meeting.  I was pretty nervous, but asked my friend Magdalena Kaiser if she would help me.  Together we prepared a speech to present for City Council.  At the meeting, Mayor Curtis made a proclamation in honour of International Development Week and personally donated $100 to the cause after our speech.  Finally, the Premier said I could leave 2 jars in the Main Government building all week to collect money.  Magdalena and I also got to do our speech and ask for donations at a YDEC (Yukon Development Education Center) event about International Development.

I am very happy to say that so far we have been able to raise a total of $318 this week. We have been asked to leave our jars in the Main Government building for one more week. After that, we will send this money to Free the Children.

I am very proud of myself for doing this and I can't wait to do something like this again!

Anna Gishler


  1. Anna, I am highly impressed with your ambition but even more impressed with your concern and compassion for children throughout the world. You have lived out the motto: "Think globally and act locally". Your story displays a great deal of understanding about the issues. I am impressed with your courage to speak out about them. Keep it up. Congratulations on a successful fundraiser.

  2. Very impressive, Anna. You've made a real difference!

  3. Hi Anna,
    Kudos to you and your friend for speaking up for a worthy cause. You should be very proud of yourselves! Why do you think Mayor Curtis and your MP Leef didn't allowed you to put the collection jars out but the Premier did? Thanks for taking action!