Victoria Mens Centre Society
News Release: Fix It For Kids
Fix WHAT for Kids????????
That might be the question Canada's Justice Minister Ann McLellan asks
herself, whenever she's asked how and when Canada's Divorce Act will be modified
to reflect what Canadians want for their children after a divorce. You think
this does not concern you? We say - think again! Give Them 2 Parents by the Year
2000. Statistics show that half the marriages celebrated this year will end-up
in a divorce.
A few facts :
Canada's archaic divorce system overwhelmingly grants sole custody of children to a single parent, usually the mother, despite decades of overwhelming evidence that the children's upbringing will suffer as a result.
Across Canada, thousands of fathers will go to work after labour day, unable to attend their child's first day back at school, because as non-custodial parent, they're not allowed to have any say in their child's life. They won't be able to pack their school bags and lunches, share report cards, impressions on the new teachers, or help their little ones write their names inside their new textbooks.
Yet in 1998, recommendations of the Joint Senate/House Committee's report, named called For the Sake of the Children, called for a major overhaul of the Divorce Act, to do away with such destructive notions as custodial and non-custodial parents. It would have given an equal role to both parents in the parenting of their children after a divorce. The report also called for immediate research into the child support laws, to date we know of not a single government initiative for such a fundamental review, only that produced by a Toronto group called "Fathers are Capable Too" see: http://fact.on.ca/ which concludes that " there are….a number of basic design flaws in the current Child Support Guidelines that result in the unfair and economically inappropriate levels contained therein".
But the recommendations came out nearly two years ago. Our Justice Minister, Anne McLellan, has made vague promises of consultations and a half-hearted commitment to consider the report's recommendations.
FATHERS, other Non-custodial parents and grandparents have been and continue to SPEAK OUT. They won't be fooled, and won't wait any longer. Let's get a commitment for change BEFORE the election.
Everyman, a Man's Journal, Canada's only periodical dedicated only to the status of men and fathers, is holding a Canada wide gathering of non-custodial parents called Fix it For Kids.
It's not exclusively a demonstration, it is also a dialogue, where individuals in each major city in Canada will deliver their message to Anne McLellan, in the form of letters explaining why the Divorce Act needs to be changed. These letters will include stories of struggle for the right to remain a parent after a divorce.
The journey across Canada will be lead by David Shackleton, the Ottawa-based publisher of Everyman, and Steve Osborne, an advocate of family law reform from St-John, NB. It will begin in Victoria BC on October 14 and will wrap-up at the National Press Gallery in Ottawa on October 29.
During the month of September, the same team will cross the country so it can organize dozens of Father's Rights, Non-Custodial Parents' and similar organizations. Many of these groups have been lobbying for changes in custody, access, child support and related laws, but until now there hasn't been any effective, nationally represented lobbying organization. Our "Unity Trek" aims to change this.
We urge divorced fathers, their extended family and concerned citizens across Canada to gather their thoughts on paper and express their feelings about the current system.
Copies of these letters should be handed in to the organizers and sent to members of parliament, both federal and local. The more letters that arrive, the better. We need to demonstrate again and again that family law problems are widespread, severe and urgent.
How can you get involved?
- contact the city contact person closest to you if you have questions;
October 13-15, 2000
Thursday, October 12: Arrival of David Shackleton and Steve Osborne from Fredricton and Ottawa.
Thursday,October 12: Informal Social Gathering at Keith's place.
Friday, October 13, 10 a.m. -5.00 p.m. A peaceful retreat to brainstorm and information share. Is there room for a National Men's Organization in Canada? Update on "Unity Trek", "Fix it for Kids" and other topics for discussion.
Friday Evening, 6.30 p.m: Barbecue Dinner/potluck $5.00 (Trek fundraiser all welcome).
Saturday, October 14, 10.00 - 1.00 p.m.: Public Forum, Fix it for Kids, including David Shackleton, Owner and Editor of Everyman Magazine, Steve Osborne, National Men's Activist and Co-trekker, other special guests to be announced.
Saturday Afternoon, October 14 : 2.00- 4.00 p.m. Rally and Public Sendoff, Collections of letters, funds etc followed by a Bon Voyage to the Ferry. Circle of Unity at the terminal, with as much media coverage that we can get.
For Victoria and South Vancouver Island people: to get involved, volunteer, find out more, help sponsor the Trek, to get assistance writing your letters, contact:
Keith Harris, Western Canada Coordinator & Pres. Victoria Mens' Centre Society firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 250-652-3205.
Moray Benoit: Events Coordinator & Vice-President Victoria Mens' Centre Society email@example.com, ph. 250-480-0939; Cell 885-2755
Avi Tal: Press and sponsors coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel & fax: 250-995-3119
Or mail to:
For more information or to volunteer, contact the city contact person closest to you:
Unity Trek and Fix it for Kids dates and contacts:
HOW TO MEET WITH STEVE AND DAVID ON THE TREK
To attend the Unity Trek meetings and presentations, and/or the Fix It For
City, Date, Team Leader contact information:
Halifax, August 29/30 Darcy Gray, (402) 434-2368,email@example.com
For the Fix It For Kids events, the team leaders are the same, but events
Victoria, Oct 14; Vancouver, Oct 15
1. What is the Unity Trek and Fix It For Kids?
2. Questionnaire attached
3. Grass roots support received all across Canada.
4. Contact the team leader in your area to find out how to participate.
5. Write your letter in support of family law reform.
6. Thank you, and we will see you real soon.
1. WHAT IS THE UNITY TREK AND FIX IT FOR KIDS?
The Unity Trek, the first ever cross-Canada trek in support of our movement
for gender equality and family law reform, begins in Halifax today. For the
next six weeks, David Shackleton, editor and publisher of Everyman, and
Steve Osborne, family law reform advocate, will be meeting with groups in 23
Canadian cities from Halifax to Victoria, to determine what kind of national
organization would best serve our movement, and to host a dialogue on the
issues facing us nationally. Following that, in the last two weeks of
October, they will travel back to Ottawa in the "Fix It For Kids"
west-to-east trek, which will feature public protests in 15 cities from
Victoria to Halifax, ending in Ottawa with a major rally on October 29.
The Fix It For Kids events are designed to put public pressure onto the
Government to fix the Divorce Act. Despite polls and the Government's own
studies which show deep and general disatisfaction with the state and
practice of family law, and despite the strong recommendations for change
that emerged from the Joint Senate/House Committee on Child Custody and
Access in 1998, the government is visibly doing nothing at all. The Fix It
For Kids events will feature celebrity speakers and public protests and will
collect letters from the public about their experiences with the family
Find out about what is happening in your neighbourhood, and follow the
progress of the Trek, by going to www.everyman.org on the world wide web and
clicking on the "Unity Trek" banner. City Teams: as soon as possible,
please send details of your local activities to firstname.lastname@example.org for
posting to the site.
2. QUESTIONNAIRE ATTACHED
We will be bringing a questionnaire to all Unity Trek meetings, which asks
about what kind of national organization would serve our needs and earn our
support. Canada-wide statistics of the answers people provided to the
questions will be presented in the December issue of Everyman, on the
Everyman website and in national internet groups. For those who would like
to have their opinions included, but don't anticipate being able to attend a
Unity Trek meeting, the questionnaire is attached as an RTF file. It should
open satisfactorily in any word processor. (If it doesn't open
automatically, save it to your hard drive and then open it from within your
word processor application, using "Open" under the "File" menu.) The
questionnaire will also be available shortly on the website at
Be sure that you include your name and the region of Canada that you are
from, when you submit your questionnaire. Anonymous submissions will not be
included in the study, due to the risk of double counting.
3. GRASS ROOTS SUPPORT RECEIVED ALL ACROSS CANADA
In a testament to the hunger that exists for national leadership within our
movement, volunteers have stepped forward across Canada to help organize
local events and support the project. Over 100 volunteers are currently
working to organize Unity Trek and Fix It For Kids events. In addition,
donations totalling $9000 have been promised, of which over $6,800 have
already been received. Thank you sincerely to everyone who has and will
contribute to this project.
4. CONTACT THE TEAM LEADER IN YOUR AREA TO FIND OUT HOW TO PARTICIPATE
In previous email, I have included a list of email addresses for local city
team leaders. However, as this information is still changing somewhat, I
recommend that you visit the project website at
www.everyman.org/trek/index.htm The information there will be updated
regularly. If you are looking for information on what is happening in your
area, and don't find it on the website, contact the local team leader
listed. If you don't get what you need, contact the regional coordinator
for your region of Canada. Regional coordinators are:
Maritimes and Quebec: Gilbert Claes, email@example.com
Southern Ontario: Gerry Bissett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Prairies and Fort Frances, ON: Bob Jeffery,
BC and Alberta: Keith Harris, email@example.com
5. WRITE YOUR LETTER IN SUPPORT OF FAMILY LAW REFORM
Governments respond to public pressure. If the pressure is great enough,
they will even respond to things they would rather avoid dealing with.
Unfortunately, family law reform falls into the category of things they
would rather avoid dealing with. So we must generate strong and sustained
public pressure. The letter writing campaign is designed to continue and
clarify the message that Canadians are serious about wanting changes to the
family law system.
We will be collecting letters the experiences of Canadians with the family
law system from across Canada. We hope to arrive back in Ottawa with a car
full of them. Go to the website at www.everyman.org/trek/index.htm and push
the button marked "Letters to Anne McLellan". Full details of what and how
to write are included. You can send your letter directly to us by email if
you prefer, or you can write it out and mail or hand it to us. Instructions
for all of these options are on the site.
It's easy to leave these things to the last minute, and miss the
opportunity. I encourage you to write your letter early. Why not do it
now? We will be privileged to carry it and present it to the government on
6. THANK YOU, AND WE WILL SEE YOU REAL SOON
Thank you sincerely to the many committed volunteers who are making this
possible across Canada. Thank you to the financial contributors, to those
who are serving on the national coordination team or city teams. Thank you
to the website volunteers and the media team. And thank you to those who
are writing and will write letters, to those who will come to the events.
We assure you that we will listen carefully to what you have to say about
national organization within our movement. We are looking forward to
David Shackleton, Editor and Publisher
Everyman: A Men's Journal
PO Box 4617, Station E, Ottawa, ON K1S 5H8, CANADA
"The World Changes When We Do"