November 25, 2015
Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, 6163 University Blvd., Vancouver

Korczak Relief


The Evolution, Current Status and Future of the “Best Interests of the Child” Principle in the Protection of Children’s Rights

Lecture Abstract:  This lecture and discussion will focus on current challenges in the implementation of the “best interests of the child” standard in Canadian jurisprudence, social policy and professional practice. Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires member states to observe the best interests of the child as a primary consideration “in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies.” As with most articles of the Convention, however, a clear understanding and precise definition of the “best interests” concept remains elusive, to the point that it is subject to competing interpretations. Legal and political decision-makers struggle when asked to define children’s “best interests,” and their definitions often clash with what children and parents would consider to be the core elements of the concept. The “best interests” standard, however, remains central in Canadian child and family law, the development of child and family policy, and in guiding professional practice in the realms of child custody, child protection, and child care. This lecture will trace the history of the “best interests” standard in Canada, and offer guidelines for refining the concept toward a more socially just approach to child and family law, policy and practice for the future.

Keynote Speaker:  Ann Cools, Senator for Toronto Centre-York

Panel: Experts in each of the three realms of child custody, child protection and child care.

Moderator:  Dr. Edward Kruk, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of British Columbia

Registration:  For more information and to register, please visit  This event is free of charge.



This Centennial Session lecture is the third of six in the “How to Love a Child”, the Janusz Korczak Lecture Series which is devoted to key issues crucial to the well-being and rights of children and young people today.  The goal of the lecture series is to foster conversations among academics, professionals and child advocates from diverse fields concerned with the welfare of the child.

All lectures are free of charge and will be held at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, 6163 University Blvd.  Registration is required.

  • Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 7:00pm
    Keeping our Promise to Children: the Relevance of Korczak’s Legacy for Children Today
    Keynote Speaker: Mr. Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth of Ontario, President, Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates
  • Thursday, October 29, 2015, 7:00pm
    Janusz Korczak and the Importance of Listening to Children’s Voices in Education: Theory, Research, and Practical Strategies
    Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Professor, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia
  • Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 7:00pm
    The Evolution, Current Status and Future of the “Best Interests of the Child” Principle in the Protection of Children’s Rights
    Keynote Speaker: Ann Cools, Senator for Toronto Centre-York
  • Thursday, January 21, 2016, 7:00pm
    The Human Rights of Aboriginal Children
    Keynote Speakers: Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond , BC Representative for Children and Youth, and Dr. Michael DeGagné, President and Vice-Chancellor of Nipissing University
  • Thursday, February 18, 2016, 7:00pm
    Janusz Korczak’s Enduring Legacy: Social Paediatrics in Canada and Vancouver
    Keynote Speakers: Dr. Gilles Julien, Social paediatrician, president and founder of the Fondation du Dr Julien, Mrs. Hélène Sioui Trudel, Mediator, Health and Law Alliance, and Dr. Christine Loock, Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia and Social Paediatrics RICHER Program leader
  • Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 7:00pm
    Summary Lecture
    Keynote Speaker: Dr. James Anglin, Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria



Janusz Korczak (1879 – 1942) was born in Poland and was one of the world’s first child rights advocates; he must also be considered one of the greatest.  His influence on our contemporary thinking and discourse about childhood and childcare places him in the ranks of such luminaries as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Heinrich Pestalozzi and Maria Montessori and his impact on international child rights policies, laws and practices is unparalleled.

In addition, he was a brilliant doctor and superb writer of books for adults and young people, who during his life and since has inspired millions in his native country, across Europe and around the world.