I’m thinking of the students who wish school was open today. The ones whose only meal each day is the one they get through a school meal program.
I’m thinking of the one in five B.C. children living in poverty who Santa Claus will forget. The ones for whom Friday will be just another hungry day in one of the most affluent places on earth.
I’m thinking of the mother who works at least two jobs and yet still can’t provide more than the bare necessities for her children.
I’m thinking all this while a vivid childhood memory whirls in my head of my mother singing Nat King Cole’s The Little Boy that Santa Claus forgot:
He’s the little boy that Santa Claus forgot
And goodness knows, he didn’t want a lot
He sent a note to Santa
For some soldiers and a drum
It broke his little heart
When he found Santa hadn’t come
In the street, he envies all those lucky boys
Then wanders home to last year’s broken toys
I’m so sorry for that laddie, he hasn’t got a daddy
The little boy that Santa Claus forgot
Premier Christy Clark is probably hoping that we have forgotten about her broken promises. She won’t want us to remember what she said about putting “families first” in her last election campaign. Or how she offered parents $40 a day while she kept their children out of school in her attempt to get teachers to back down in their fight for more educational support for children.
What she fails to realize is that for thousands of children in this province, school is much more than a place they go to learn an approved curriculum.
They are the students who come early and leave late each day because school is where the peace and quiet is.
The students who count 24 hours between meals.
The students who teachers have in mind for every Adopt-a-School request for funds.
The students who are expert couch surfers, relying on the compassion of the parents of their school friends.
They certainly can’t rely on the compassion of a premier who spends thousands of dollars to take her son on a trip to the other side of the world so that he can learn empathy.
If we accept the view of honorary Canadian citizen, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who said that “there could be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children”, then what are we to say about the soul of the province of British Columbia when news about yet another child dying while in the custody of the Ministry of Children and Families elicits nothing more than a shrug from the government?
During this Christmas season, when the birth of a child is celebrated with much largesse, I think about the children this government has conveniently forgotten.
When the BC Liberals, in their bid for re-election in 2017, spin all the facts of their malfeasance, when they whitewash the 15 years of cuts they have made to services for children, I hope that voters will remember the children that Christy Clark forgot.