TORONTO, Sept. 9, 2021 /CNW/ – At Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada Stand Up for Kids Night this evening, Mary Birdsell was announced as this year’s winner of The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award, which recognizes extraordinary Canadians whose efforts have improved the lives of vulnerable children and youth involved with child welfare.
As winner of The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award, Ms. Birdsell will receive a $50,000 award to be granted to a charity of her choice. The five other finalists will receive $5,000 each from Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada to be directed to their selected child welfare, child rights or child- and youth-serving organization.
“Mary Birdsell is an unfaltering advocate for increasing access to justice and the rights of children and young people in and transitioning from care,” says Robert Sedran, Chair of The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award Committee and Senior Vice President, Enterprise Strategy, CIBC. “The committee was struck by her unparalleled commitment to ensuring marginalized children and youth receive equal access to legal services that are delivered with compassion and inclusivity.”
Mary is recognized as a leading voice for children’s rights and youth justice in Canada. She has spent 25 years supporting young people who are facing adversity and advocating for their rights in pursuit of education success, access to supports, resolution of conflict and ultimately, safety, dignity and well-being.
Mary is the Executive Director at Justice for Children and Youth, where she is dedicated to protecting and advancing the legal and human rights of children and youth. She is also a tireless advocate for systemic change, arguing many leading youth justice cases at all levels of court and appearing at legislative hearing and policy discussions. She is currently Chair of the Child and Youth Law section of the Canadian Bar Association, is on the board of A Way Home Canada and is a former board member of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. Mary is the co-author of Prosecuting and Defending Youth Criminal Justice Cases: A Practitioner’s Handbook, 2nd ed. 2019.
The 2021 award winner and finalists were selected by The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award Committee, an esteemed group of community and business leaders recognized for their passion and dedication to making a difference in the lives of child and youth involved in the child welfare system.
The 2021 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award finalists included:
- Dr. Jean M. Clinton, Clinical Professor McMaster University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences (Hamilton, ON)
- Kelly Holmes, Executive Director, Resource Assistance for Youth (Winnipeg, MB)
- Heather O’Keefe, Executive Director, StepStones for Youth (Toronto, ON)
- Sam Pothier, AYA Case Manager, Futures Forward (Winnipeg, MB)
- Kelly Tallon Franklin, Chief Executive Director, Courage for Freedom (St. Thomas, ON)
Established in 2018, the award is named in honour of Lynn Factor, C.M., O.Ont, MSW, RSW, LL.D., a long-standing Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada volunteer and a past Board Chair. A social worker by profession, Lynn has served for over 35 years on the frontlines of child welfare and has seen the damaging impact on children living under the weight of abuse, neglect and trauma. In recognition of Lynn’s extraordinary commitment to Canada’s most vulnerable children, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada and Lynn’s husband, Sheldon Inwentash, named the Stand Up for Kids National Award in her honour.
About Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada
Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is our country’s leading charity dedicated to standing up for children and families involved in the child welfare system and standing alongside youth with lived experience. We raise and grant funds and deliver a wide range of high-impact programs and services in partnership with 104 child-and youth-serving agencies across the country. Last year, we supported over 46,500 children and youth and 12,300 families. Find out more at cafdn.org.
SOURCE Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada