The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland is very proud to celebrate fourteen years of joint efforts in promoting the legacy of Janusz Korczak in Canada and is equally grateful to the Janusz Korczak Association of Canada for its immense job. The story of Janusz Korczak is not only the story about one man and his ideas. It is foremost the story about changing our culture to be much more oriented toward the respect of those who are the most fragile and vulnerable element of humanity and, at the same time, the most important one: children. Janusz Korczak was the first person in the history of our culture who fully recognized the human being in a child. It seems obvious, but in fact we who are grown up, mature, and proud of our personal rights as adults, are hardly accepting the autonomy, wisdom, and childish maturity that kids are able to demonstrate in living their own lives. Janusz Korczak, called “the Good Doctor”, is a legendary Polish-Jewish personality, murdered by Germans together with a group of orphans who he took care of in occupied Warsaw. He insisted on considering children as partners, as equal to adults as human beings. He opened eyes of the humanity to the fundamental importance of the rights of child, insisting on the fact that there are no human rights without children’s rights. His ideas stimulated Poland to present to the United Nations the proposal to approve the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The mission of the Janusz Korczak Association of Canada is to remember the heritage of Janusz Korczak and to develop his ideas, especially here, in Western Canada. It’s indeed very important for the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland to support the “How to Love a Child” Janusz Korczak Lecture Series. In this way, the great ideas of “the Good Doctor” who was one of the most remarkable personalities of the Polish XX Century history, will better spread not only in BC, in Canada, but taking into consideration the global position of the University of British Columbia, also on a global scale.
Krzysztof Olendzki, Ambassadeur Titulaire, Consul General, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Vancouver
I am honoured to add my voice to support the inspiring work of all those who are responsible for organizing the Janusz Korczak Lecture Series. Your tireless effort and dedication are fitting tributes to the legacy of Dr. Korczak and ensure his fight to protect the rights and well-being of children around the world continues.
Through these Lecture Series dialogues we are provided with the opportunity to reaffirm our shared values and hear leading experts from across Canada and around the world describe how Dr. Korczak’s theories and writings continue to inform best practices today.
As President of the University of British Columbia, I am pleased that several of our faculties are actively involved in the Series and facilitating this important dialogue between stakeholders working in communities and education institutions every day to promote the wellbeing of children and youth.
I am also pleased that this year’s event is being sponsored by UBC through the Centennial Initiatives Fund we established to recognize the 100th anniversary of our first graduating class. As we celebrate a century of historic achievements of UBC faculty and Alumni in a wide variety of fields, we are also looking to the future and UBC’s next generation of advocates who want to change the world for the better – just like Dr. Korczak.
Prof. Arvind Gupta, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of British Columbia
The Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia cherishes the work of Janusz Korczak. As a paediatrician, a researcher, a prolific writer, an advocate for children’s rights, an officer in the army, but most of all, an educator and a moral authority, his work is valued and celebrated. Korczak was a pioneer of children’s rights, including their right for human dignity and respect. He was an early proponent of the value of dialogue with children as friends and partners. His pedagogy was saturated with humanistic values, courage, and openness towards others, much like ours here at the Faculty of Education. He loved his children and they loved him. He respected children and children respected him. He was their hero. Korczak dedicated his life to children and ultimately sacrificed his life for the love of children. “Children are not the people of the future, because they are people already”.
Dr. Blye Frank Dean and Professor, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia
When I first became a dean, I speculated out loud about what it would be like to reverse-engineer the kind of university student that we wanted to admit to university. It was apparent that a long immersion in rote-learning and didactic education in primary and secondary schools had made it necessary for us to undo a lot of the damage that had already been deeply inscribed in our students. How could we get students to rediscover the joy of discovery and develop respect for their own selves and others? I have learned much in the last decade from pioneers of children’s education, from Frederic Froebel to Janusz Korczak, whose respect for children has urged us on to rethink our very notion of children and childhood. In an era in which millions of children around the world still don’t have universal access to schooling and in which many are exploited in work, exposed to the horrors of war—even as child soldiers, and where sexual exploitation of children has become an industry, a wholescale commitment to the rights, education, nurturing and protection of children is timely and necessary. My congratulations and thanks to the organizers and participants of the Janusz Korczak Lecture Series for moving this great project forward.
Gage Averill, Dean of the Faculty of Arts
Dr. Janusz Korczak stands as an iconic and internationally recognized figure for all Paediatricians and the imperative demand to address the health and social needs of all children and adolescents, with special attention to those living in the most challenging environments and under the most dangerous circumstances. Dr. Korczak set the standard of courage and wisdom for paediatricians and all those who strive to better the lives of children and youth.
The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, adopted in Canada in 1991, is the legacy of his life’s work.
I am proud for the Department of Paediatrics of British Columbia Children’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia to be a co-sponsor of the Janusz Korczak Lecture Series.
Allison A. Eddy, MD, FRCP(C) Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics, University of British Columbia, Chief, Paediatric Medicine, BC Children’s Hospital & BC Women’s Hospital
On behalf of UNICEF Canada, I am pleased to formally endorse the Janusz Korczak Lecture Series, which celebrates the exceptional life and legacy of Dr. Korczak. As John Milloy, a Canadian historian and professor at Trent University, has aptly stated: “We all leave legacies, but not all are of equal weight.” In the case of Janusz Korczak, there is a remarkable history of wisdom, courage and compassion that is truly inspirational and spans several decades. Because of his work, we can clearly acknowledge, in the 21st century, that human rights are children’s rights, and children’s rights are human rights.
To his great credit, Dr. Korczak was aware of the interrelationship between human rights and children’s rights long before there were human rights treaties to tell him so. He was a man of many talents – a paediatrician, author, and philanthropist, who is considered to be the father of children’s rights. It is incredible to think that close to 100 years ago, he had the acumen to see things from a child’s unique perspective and recognize that children have universal and inalienable rights – including the right to be respected, the right to have their views taken seriously, and the right to be who they are, according to their natural stage of development. These rights were documented in many publications and formed part of a larger vision that would first find expression, after the Second World War, in the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and eventually, in the Convention on the Rights of the Child itself, some thirty years later.
Marvin M. Bernstein, B.A., J.D., LL.M., Chief Policy Advisor, UNICEF Canada
I am delighted to participate in the Janusz Korczak Lecture Series, an initiative that provides a thoughtful public platform to discuss these vitally important ideas. It is particularly fitting that these discussions happen under the name of Dr. Korczak, a true champion of children’s rights and advocacy. This series honours his important legacy.
Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond British Columbia Representative for Children and Youth
Janusz Korczak left a legacy through which all children can be understood as rights bearers. He was able to make real what we seem to only aspire to in Canada. I am proud to support the “How to Love a Child” Janusz Korczak Lecture Series. I believe it will serve to deepen our country’s commitment to supporting all children to reach their full potential.
Irwin Elman Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Ontario
When the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was drafted I began to read the writings of Janusz Korczak and realised how absolutely relevant they were for the work to formulate an international code for children’s human rights. Some important aspects of his thinking we managed to insert in the text which has contributed to its remarkable success. Still, I feel that some of his thoughts are not fully understood. Amazingly, Korczak is still ahead of time. The more important it is that his writings will continue to inspire our discussion on how we should demonstrate our respect and love for young persons. I am sure that the lectures organised in cooperation with the University of British Columbia will be important in our constant learning process about children’s needs and rights.
Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in Strasbourg 2006 – 2012