Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 51

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
The Honourable Daniel Hays, Speaker

Boy Scouts of Canada

Private Bill to Amend Act of Incorporation—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded by the Honourable Senator Murray, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-27, respecting Scouts Canada.—(Honourable Senator Jaffer)

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, it is an honour and pleasure to speak again to Bill S-27, which officially changes the name of Boy Scouts of Canada to Scouts Canada.

I have been involved in Scouting nearly all my life. I was a Brownie, a Girl Guide, a Queen’s Guide while growing up in Africa, and a Girl Scout in the United States. For my family, Scouting is a tradition. My mother grew up knowing Lady Baden-Powell, the wife of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. She then went on to become a Girl Guide leader. She continues to be involved in the guiding movement to this day.

When I first came to Canada, I wanted to ensure that I continued to be involved in Scouting and pass this tradition on to my children, the way my own parents had passed it on to me. With my husband, I was a Beaver, a Cub and a Venturer leader. In the 1980s, my husband and I started a co-ed Venturer group, one of the few in the country at that time. We thought that this would be an excellent way to bring together young men and women so that they could learn to challenge and relate to one another.

Honourable senators, I have always supported, and will continue to support, Scouting because I believe that it teaches young boys and girls not only skills that apply to survival in the wilderness but also lessons that they can apply to all of life’s situations, in order to, as the Scouting motto states: “Be Prepared.” Scouting helps to teach young people to build interpersonal bonds and to become leaders, to confront challenges hands-on and to work as a team. These lessons can be learned only in the kind of environment that Scouting offers.

These were the kinds of lessons that Lord Baden-Powell had in mind when he began the Scouting movement almost one century ago. He thought that it would be a good idea to teach boys some of the skills and ideals of Scouting. Scouts should be strong, courageous and alert; able to read the smallest signs of nature and tracks of animals, and to survive in the wilderness; always ready and willing to help each other and to decide what to do and when to do it. Lord Baden-Powell believed that Scouting affected a young person’s education, appreciation of religion and a greater promotion of peace. He set out a number of reasons why Scouting was an important educational experience. He stated that the secret to sound education was to get each pupil to learn for himself instead of instructing him by driving knowledge into him through a stereotypical system.

Lord Baden-Powell had a vision that went beyond simple survivor skills to much larger views on the promotion of peace and justice. He said:

Before you abolish armaments, before you can make treaty promises, before you build palaces for peace delegates to sit in, the first step of all is to train the rising generations in every nation to be guided in all things by an absolute sense of justice.

When men have it as an instinct in their conduct of all affairs of life to look to the question impartially from both sides before becoming partisans of one, then if a crisis arises between two nations, they will naturally be more ready to recognize the justice of the cause and to adopt a peaceful solution, which is impossible so long as their minds are accustomed to run to war as the only resort.

This underlines why I think Scouting is important and why I work to encourage the Scouting experience in my own family and community. As Senator Di Nino mentioned, Scouts Canada is now inclusive of boys and girls. Bill S-27 will formally change the name of the organization in both languages to reflect this.

When I took my own group of co-ed Venturers to the World Jamboree in Kananaskis, Alberta, the experience was particularly rewarding for the girls. The girls learned that they could do outdoor activities as well as, if not better than, the boys. They gained a special confidence as a result. These young Muslim girls learned that they could do anything that the boys could do. They learned that they could take on any challenges and gain more points and awards than their male colleagues. This helped these girls to take on life careers that otherwise they would not have. Today, these Venturers tell me that they are engineers and scientists because they have no mental barriers as to what girls can achieve.

One of the proudest moments for my husband and me as Scouters was when a female member of our Venturer troop told us that she was doing very well in her present work and was able to compete because of the skills she had learned as a Venturer. She told us that being a Venturer taught her that she was as good as any male colleague, and that helped her to alleviate any fears she had of her own limitations.

As a previous Girl Guide Commissioner, I believe that the Girl Guide movement is important for the growth of girls. I believe that the co-ed group helps to build confidence in young people. I want to thank Senator Di Nino for introducing Bill S-27 and I join him in support of its speedy passage.

I urge all honourable senators to take one more step and support the Canadian Scouting movement in their own regions to ensure that our young people are given the opportunity to participate in the unique experience that Scouting offers.