The Hon. James K. Bartleman
Lieutenant-Governor, Province of Ontario<
Annual Christmas Luncheon Season's Greetings from The Hon. James K. Bartleman, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario
Chairman: William G. Whittaker
President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests
David Edmison, Past Chair, Bloorview McMillan Children's Foundation, Timothy Eaton Memorial Church and The Empire Club of Canada Foundation, and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Don Murphy and Kari Murphy, Co-Founders of "Building Better Lives" and our Empire Club of Canada Community Service Award Winners; Reverend David Harrison, Incumbent, St. Thomas' Anglican Church, Brooklin; Fatima Abrar, Grade 12 Student, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute; Brooke Daprato, Grade 12 Student, North Toronto Collegiate Institute; Bill Ryan, Director of Staff Care, The Yonge Street Mission; Joan Hallett, Community Member and Volunteer, The Yonge Street Mission; Rob Hardy, Community Services Co-ordinator, Salvation Army-Harbour Light; Kathryn Edith Langley Hope, Active Rotarian, Co-ordinator, Community Kettles Campaign, Salvation Army North Toronto Temple; Gareth Seltzer, Past National Chair, Funds Development, The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Board Member, Canadian Foundation for Aids Research, The Seltzer-Chan Pond Inlet Foundation and Breakfast for Learning Foundation, and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Margery Balfour, Volunteer, Sunnybrook and Women's College, Health Sciences Centre, Veteran's Wing; Duncan Graham, President of the Veterans and Community Resident Council; Talia, "Wish Child," The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Toronto and Central Ontario; Rhonda Evans, Grantor, The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Toronto and Central Ontario; Ernest King, Anishnawbe Health Toronto Centre; Chrystal Bouvier, Registered Nurse, Anishnawbe Health Toronto Centre; and Nicole Nantais, National Co-ordinator, The Dominion of Canada General Insurance, Annual United Way Campaign.
Introduction by William Whittaker
The Hon. James Bartleman was sworn in on March 7, 2002 as the 27th lieutenant-governor of Ontario, following 35 distinguished years in Canada's foreign service.
The following quotation aptly describes our lieutenant-governor: "Remember, every challenge that you overcome makes the next one easier."
His Honour has adopted these words of his grade 13 English teacher, Madelaine Roddick, as his life motto and those words have taken him from his Orillia birthplace and Port Carling childhood through many trials and tribulations to his position today.
Mr. Bartleman is a member of the "Min-jik-ning" nation and is an accomplished author. His first book, "Out of Muskoka," published in 2002, is a memoir of his early life and won the Ontario Historical Society's Joseph Brant award in 2003. This book has been followed by three others, "On six continents," "Rollercoaster: My Hectic Years as Jean Chretien's Diplomatic Advisor," and "Raisin Wine," all written while carrying out his duties as lieutenant-governor.
Mr. Bartleman has been a busy lieutenant-governor. While his Web site does not list all the speeches and visits he has made in his almost four-year tenure, when you google the name James Bartleman, you get 800 hits, most of which relate to newspaper reports of his various visits and speeches.
His Honour launched the Lieutenant-Governor's Book Program in 2004, and collected over 1.2 million used books, donated by generous Ontarians to stock school libraries in First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. His dedication to the issues of literacy, especially among Canada's northern and First Nation youth is first and foremost in his thoughts and we are honoured to have as our guest today the Lieutenant-Governor of the province of Ontario the Honourable James K. Bartleman.
Please join me in welcoming His Honour to our podium today.
Thank you very much. I'm often introduced as the left-handed governor.
Mr. Whittaker, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I'm really happy to join you once again for the annual Christmas luncheon. I understand that the Empire Club has been hosting such a luncheon for well over 100 years and for the past five years has used the occasion to recognize outstanding community service. I applaud the club for doing so for at this time of the year when Canadians from all walks of life are in a festive mood, when friends and family get together, when gifts are exchanged and everyone is having a good time, it is important that we not forget those who are less well-off, those who are homeless, those who are ill and those who fall through the cracks in our social support system.
It is also a time to honour those individuals and organizations in our society who are at the front line in helping others. We need to show them that their efforts are supported by the broader public. And I'm really honoured today to be in the company of representatives of so many organizations such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Salvation Army, the Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Services, the Young Street Mission and Free the Children.
I would now like to say a few words about two causes that I have embraced very strongly since becoming Lieutenant-Governor--mental health and the condition of Aboriginal children and youth.
On mental health, 10 per cent of Canadians at any one time are ill with a mental illness and yet only one in three ever seeks help. And of that one in three who seeks help, some 70 per cent are soon back on their feet and the others suffer largely in silence. They have a solitary pain, their families are burdened, there are enormous costs to the economy and the greatest tragedy of all of course is that the individual is not getting the treatment they should get because of stigma, which makes people afraid or ashamed to get help.
Together with Ron Ellis, Michael Wilson and other Ontarians who are often in the news, I have been participating in the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Transforming Lives Media Campaign this year to try to change the attitudes of society and to encourage people, who suffer from a mental illness, to get help. You have probably seen my picture and those of Ron Ellis and Michael Wilson and others in newspapers and in Maclean's magazine and heard us on radio ads on various programs. We also appeared on the CFRB radio call-in show. I think it is very important that more Canadians become involved in this campaign. At this time of the year it is often difficult for people who are suffering from a mental illness such as depression when they see everybody having a good time. It reminds them perhaps of the old days and they think of their condition. I think it is very important that we give a thought to the message of our campaign, which is to fight stigma.
Now on the Aboriginal young people, I believe all Ontarians have been concerned at the situation in the remote reserves of the province, particularly highlighted by the water crisis in Kashechewan early this year. But there are problems far greater in importance in my view affecting the northern Native reserves in Ontario and, for that matter, Native reserves in remote areas across Canada and they are illiteracy and suicide.
I was really quite shocked when I began to visit First Nation communities in Northern Ontario to discover that, according to the testers from the Department of Education who go in and evaluate the learning levels of children, 50 per cent of children in grade one were tested as special needs children. And yet they were not cognitively impaired in any way. They were just as intelligent as other children.
I was even more surprised to learn when I attended a conference at Sick Kids Hospital on literacy and learning abilities among children that the same situation prevails in the United States in Native American communities, but when they introduced books and other intellectual stimulation the level of special needs children falls from 50 per cent to 10 per cent. So it is a simple case of equality of opportunity; of giving to those children the tools to have fulfilling lives to learn and to become leaders of their community.
I was also appalled that in many of these communities there are constant suicides among children--twenty-three so far in one area of Northern Ontario, some 10 times the rate among non-Native children. A great deal of it is due to the fact that the children lack self-esteem and they lack self-esteem in part because they don't know how to read. They don't know to function in a modern, globalized economy.
Therefore what I've tried to do is mobilize people of good will in our society and there is a tremendous number of people of good will in Ontario and throughout Canada. All we need to do is unlock that goodness and put it to proper use.
About a year and a half ago I launched an appeal for books to stock the libraries in First Nation communities and with the help of volunteers such as Kerry Murphy sorted 1.2 million books down to 850,000 books. We had no way of delivering them, so transportation companies were organized to deliver the books and the Ontario Provincial Police helped as well. Native airlines also stepped in and we delivered those books. Now we have established libraries throughout the North in most of the First Nation communities of Ontario and 26 of the 28 Friendship Centres. I followed that up by twinning most of the Native schools of the province--100 Native schools--with 100 non-Native schools so that Native and non-Native kids could get to know each other through the Internet, through writing to each other as pen-pals. That worked well and so then I moved on to twin all the schools of Nunavut with schools in the Greater Toronto Area. That has gone very well.
And then last summer to address the need that the younger children were not exposed to books and had a real problem with literacy, I established five pilot camps working with the Scouts, the YMCA, Frontier College, the National Aboriginal Literacy Organization and the World Literacy Organization and we ran camps for 365 children. I'm going to show you a DVD on that. Everything I do is with volunteers and the people who put this DVD together are volunteer photographers from major news organizations like Macleans, the Toronto Star, and elsewhere. They took time off their summer holidays to go up to the camps and to show the public what a transforming effect books and exposure to literature can have on kids, who otherwise are out of sight and out of mind. And on the basis of that success I'm going to open up 20 camps this summer. For $33,000, one community can have 45 children exposed to good books with trained volunteers from Frontier College this coming summer. So far I've got 10 organizations to put in $33,000 each and I'm looking for another 10 to have 20. I'm then going to go to the government to ask if it can match it. I then want a five-year commitment and I think we are really going to make a difference in the lives of young people using volunteers and building bridges between people in a major problem area affecting our society. So that is the really good news I'm bringing to you at this time of the year.
Now I'd like to show this DVD put together by volunteers showing what can be accomplished when people of good will are working together. Thank you very much.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Gareth Seltzer, Past National Chair, Funds Development, The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Board Member, Canadian Foundation for Aids Research, The Seltzer-Chan Pond Inlet Foundation, Breakfast for Learning Foundation, and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada.
The Empire Club was then entertained by the Regent Park School of Music choir led by renowned choral director Wayne Strongman.