A Day as Child and Youth Advocate of Ontario

For Rachel Slipp, the most exciting part of her time at STU has been putting her knowledge into action. Recently, this led her to Toronto to act as the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth of Ontario as part of Plan International Canada’s International Day of the Girl initiative, Girls Belong Here.

Inspired by her Human Rights and Political Science courses—and what she says is a focus of classes on positive change—Slipp became involved with Plan International Canada’s Speakers Bureau.

As part of that group, she was encouraged to apply to take part in Girls Belong Here—a one-day event that places young women in seats of power, including those of government ministers, CEOs, and non-profit leadership roles in celebration of International Day of the Girl.

In her application, Slipp outlined issues that are meaningful to her, what her dream job might look like, and some of the barriers she sees standing in the way of women trying to attain leadership roles.

Of the 17 young women accepted, Slipp was the only one from the east coast. For one day, she would be the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth of Ontario.

“It was a job I’d never considered doing, but it felt like a perfect fit based on what I wrote,” Slipp said. “It is a job where you can really make a difference. I knew I was going to learn a lot.”

“I never thought about this as a job I would be able to do, but now I do.”

The real provincial advocate, Irwin Elman, afforded Slipp most of the responsibilities of his job for the day. 
“He included me in absolutely everything. He kept calling me the provincial advocate,” she said.
With Elman’s supervision, Slipp led an office-wide status meeting, where she learned about the work the office does and the projects they’re undertaking.

Later, she took a call from the Minister for Children and Youth Services for Ontario.

“He asked me a lot of questions and said he was glad to have the opportunity to talk to me, because he’s interested in being involved next year. He said me sharing my experience with him would help give someone else the same opportunity.”

Slipp said her experience in Toronto has given her a different outlook for the future.

“I never thought about this as a job I would be able to do, but now I do,” she said. “I never felt for a second like I wouldn’t be able to do it, or like I wouldn’t be able to get there someday. The day was very empowering.”

“I shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these issues and advocate for people.”

Knowing the day would be a whirlwind, Slipp made sure to capture and keep as much of it as she could. At the status meeting, she asked people if they had anything about their job or International Day of the Girl they wanted to share with her.

“I brought cue cards for them to write on, because I was just there for one day and I knew I wouldn’t have time to connect with every person there. I wanted to take their thoughts and what I learned from them home with me.” 

One card stood out to Slipp.

“It said, ‘Youth and children shouldn’t be afraid to talk about issues that impact them,’ and it made me think of how women and girls are sometimes afraid to talk about the challenges they meet—especially in a climate where many don’t think those barriers exist,” Slipp said.

“It made me realize I shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these issues and advocate for people who aren’t ready to do that, because we need women who are ready and people who are willing to support them to act, so the situation is better for future generations.”