1st Session, 43rd Parliament
Volume 151, Issue 15

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

Girl Guides of Canada Bill

Private Bill—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer moved second reading of Bill S-1001, An Act respecting Girl Guides of Canada.

She said: Honourable senators, it is my honour to speak to Bill S-1001, An Act respecting Girl Guides of Canada. Girl Guides of Canada is an organization that is very close to my heart, and I will get to that in a few moments. I have also come to learn that many honourable senators in this chamber also hold this organization near and dear.

I would like to begin today by taking you all back to the year 1909, when girls in England demanded to take part in the Boy Scouts rally organized by Lord Baden-Powell at the Crystal Palace in London. These girls saw what the Boy Scouts were doing and wanted to have the same opportunities. Lord Baden-Powell was impressed by their tenacity and initiative, so he asked his sister Agnes to create a program just for girls.

That was the day girls launched the guiding movement, which provides opportunities for girls to get together, discover what’s important to them and try out a range of activities they can’t do at home or at school. The movement created a space where girls took the initiative to discover what was important to them. Right from the start, these girls were seeking out new experiences.

Guiding debuted in Canada a year later. By 1912, there were units in every province, and many of Canada’s most progressive women joined forces to create the Canadian Girl Guides Association.

I ask for all your assistance in getting this bill to become law. In the last session I had introduced this bill, and it died at third reading. Senator Dalphond had amended the previous bill, and these amendments are now an integral part of this present bill. These amendments include that the Girl Guides of Canada will follow the rule that all corporations have provisions to say that the directors are personally responsible or liable for up to six months of unpaid wages and salaries, as stated under section 146(1) of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.

Today, honourable senators, the Girl Guides of Canada consists of 75,000 girls strong, supported by 20,000 women from coast to coast to coast. From their very first meeting, there was a deal to have an all-girl organization where they could make choices, have a voice of their own and put their ideas into action.

Girl Guides of Canada provides a unique opportunity for empowerment in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment, and provides programs that are responsive to issues facing girls. Guiding acts as a catalyst for girls empowering girls. Guiding has long played a leading role in helping girls develop the skills and experience to try new things, with programming options ranging from innovative STEM activities to outdoor adventures and discussions on mental health and healthy relationships.

Honourable senators, Girl Guides of Canada offers a broad range of positive and educational programs and activities. One of these is Mighty Minds, a large-scale mental health initiative designed to help girls aged 5 to 17 across Canada develop a positive attitude toward mental health.

Listening to girls and understanding what they are facing enables Girl Guides of Canada to be responsive and work toward a better world for girls.

For the forty-third Canadian federal election, Girl Guides of Canada created “Voices to Votes”, a series of activities that allowed girls across our great nation to learn about the democratic process and to engage with the election.

Girl Guides of Canada is committed to being an inclusive, diverse and relevant organization for today’s girls. These values are vital to Girl Guides of Canada’s objective of providing a safe space where girls from all walks of life can become confident, resilient, independent, open-minded and fulfilled. For more than 100 years, Girl Guides of Canada has known that there are no limits to what girls can achieve when they have a chance to discover themselves and explore the infinite possibilities available to them, no matter the path they choose. The girls are encouraged and supported to continuously try new challenges.

Honourable senators, we all know that women and girls still face obstacles and limited opportunities.

Programs centred on girls focus on their specific needs and the social barriers they can face and encourage them to look up to women in leadership positions.

Our world is constantly evolving and growing more and more complex, yet sexism lives on. There’s no doubt that girls need an organization like Girl Guides of Canada now more than ever.

Today, girls in guiding discover who they are. The girls set their own goals. Along this path, the girls know that they can become confident, resilient and independent.

Honourable senators, guiding is in my DNA. My mother grew up as a Girl Guide and worked with Lady Baden-Powell in Kenya. She often told us stories from her adventures as a Girl Guide, going camping and being in leadership roles in Kenya. At that time, besides school, there was nothing else for her and her friends to do but to go guiding. That was the only opportunity girls had at that time.

When she moved to Kampala, Uganda as a young bride, she became a Girl Guide leader to give Ugandan girls an opportunity to excel. My sisters and I were Brownies and Guides. I was the second Queen’s Guide in East Africa. I was also a Girl Scout in Tacoma, Washington State. I learned many leadership skills from guiding.

In Canada, I have been very fortunate, honourable senators. I have learned great leadership skills, and my being a Girl Guide leader has helped my family to integrate into Canada. I have been a Brownie leader, a Girl Guide leader, a Pathfinder leader and, more importantly, I have taken girls all over Canada for camping experiences.

For many years, as a Girl Guide commissioner, I was able to encourage other young women to become leaders and hold leadership roles. Many younger women have said to me that if it were not for the encouragement of Girl Guides, they would never have been able to integrate into Canadian society as well as they have.

Honourable senators, Girl Guides of Canada has had a tremendous impact on the woman I am today. I stand before you in full support of Girl Guides of Canada and their ongoing commitment to enable girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, but, most of all, to make a difference in this world.

Girl Guides of Canada has requested that a private bill be introduced before the Parliament of Canada to ensure its current roles and procedures as a modern organization are accurately reflected in their governing charter.

Honourable senators, the Girl Guides’ governance is formalized through a special act of Parliament titled An Act to Incorporate The Canadian Council of The Girl Guides Association, chapter 77 of the Statues of Canada, 1917. That act has been amended twice, in 1947 and in 1961. For the most part, the governing act remains largely unamended.

In this private bill, Girl Guides of Canada seeks to modernize language to reflect Girl Guides of Canada’s goals and missions, make administrative edits to Girl Guides of Canada’s procedural provisions and to incorporate certain provisions of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. As I have already stated, this bill also incorporates Senator Dalphond’s amendments to the previous bill.

Honourable senators, today I ask for your support in modernizing the objectives of Girl Guides of Canada by sending this bill to committee as soon as the committees are formed. I thank you for your assistance.