Children and youth are among the most vulnerable of society's citizens, with those in government care having a further series of risks. In Canada, our Aboriginal children and youth are among the most at risk. More Aboriginal children are in government care in comparison to other children. Fewer Aboriginal children graduate from high school than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. And, too many Aboriginal children live in poverty, become involved with the youth justice system and suffer from intergenerational impacts of residential schools. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's goal is that all young people in British Columbia have the same opportunities for success. Her Big Thinking presentation will examine how Aboriginal children, youth and their families have become marginalized, and look at what can be done to ensure that this population @ the edge is heard and this inequality addressed.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is President of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates, an alliance of provincial advocates from across the country who champion the voice and rights of children. She was appointed B.C.'s first Representative for Children and Youth in November 2006 and has worked as a criminal law judge in youth and adult courts, with an emphasis on developing partnerships to better serve the needs of young people in the justice system, particularly sexually exploited children and youth and those with disabilities.