Rehtaeh Canning is the Halifax teen who committed suicide following an alleged gang rape & online bullying.
Since Rehtaeh's father's blog about his daughter has been overwhelmed by responses, I've decided to post my message to him & Rehtaeh's loved ones as an open letter here:
Dear Mr. Canning,
There are simply NO words to express the deep-felt sympathy I, and countless others, feel for you, your family and Rehtaeh's loved ones.
Someday, many of those loved ones will want the answer to the following question:
Why do we continue to fail our children, children just like Rehtaeh, in a country like Canada?
Every single one of us has a responsibility to the children in our communities, and especially our governments: ALL levels of government. Yet, how many times do we hear that issue on the eve of any election?
Although I have no children of my own, I have spent many hours contributing to the lobby of all those government levels, both as a teacher and as the former education manager of an organization that advocates for children's rights.
I was once asked in an interview if there was something I hoped to convey through my writing. An excerpt of my answer:
"I want to convey the depth of my conviction that our greatest failure has been and continues to be our repeated dismissal as a society of every child's right to grow up in dignity in an equitable world - a world safe from war and fear. Conversely, our greatest accomplishments are those times we've chosen to uphold and protect those fundamental rights, in creating communities where children can play, and laugh, and learn and grow into their full potential."
Some days on the journey to upholding and protecting children's rights, the complacency of many is incomprehensible. However, there ARE others: Compassionate, creative and determined people who want to help change this for our children.
Find these people. Keep the one's you've already found close to you. Let them hold you up when you feel you are about to fall. The best ones may lift you up.
May your positive memories of Rehtaeh live in and through you forever.
That is my heart-felt wish for you & your loved ones.