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Keep The Promise

Image of hands making the sign of a promiseKeep The Promise was a two-year campaign to reignite the commitment of Canadians and government to end child poverty for good. Canada is still waiting.

Keep The Promise resources

In 1989, the House of Commons unanimously committed to end child poverty. On January 30, 2015, marking 25 years since the unanimous motion to end child poverty was passed by the House of Commons in 1989, a new motion — M-534, put forward by MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan — was debated in the House of Commons. It was subsequently passed, only one vote shy of unanimity.

Keep The Promise was a two-year campaign, launched in 2013, to reignite the commitment of Canadians and their governments to end child poverty for good. While the campaign has concluded, the effort is ongoing and promising, thanks in large part to our two primary partners, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) and Campaign 2000. Inspired by activist June Callwood’s example, Keep The Promise helps kids remind adults that they have not kept their promise to end child poverty in Canada.

This webpage contains resources which were created or compiled by the Keep The Promise campaign since 2013 that may help you engage with others who are taking action.

Resources for educators

Keep The Promise partnered with the CTF on an anti-poverty initiative targeted to grades 5 to 8 classrooms across the country, in a campaign to create an opportunity for students to offer their vision for a Canada where all children have access to the food, education and housing they deserve. This collaboration was later expanded to high school engagement opportunities.

Although the Keep the Promise campaign has concluded, educators can conduct a poverty inquiry with students at any time with the revised lessons provided below. The lessons have direct connections to language and mathematics curriculum, and to learning and inquiry skills. In some cases there are also connections to content in the social studies curriculum and they definitely fit into the overall citizenship goals at all grade levels.

Information resources


Campaign 2000’s Annual Report Cards on Child and Family Poverty in Canada, 2014


Government initiatives and publications


Research & policy on the significance of childhood experiences


Articles, literature reviews & editorials


Resources regarding poverty in Indigenous communities

CTF’s social justice program, Imagineaction, is a teacher platform that provides tools and resources to facilitate the development of students’ critical thinking skills; boosts creativity with student awareness of multiple solutions for social problems; and, maximizes student potential for learning through school-community social action projects. Learn more. 

OCSB blog posts

The OCSB’s 5th Annual Keep the Promise Summit

The OCSB’s 5th Annual Keep the Promise Summit

In 1989, all three federal government parties promised to end child poverty by the year 2000. Today in Ottawa, 1 in 5 children live in poverty. This is unacceptable! After the Keep the Promise (KTP) National Summit in November 2014, I was so impacted by the commitment, determination and passion of young people that I felt compelled to keep this conversation going. With 20 Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) retiree volunteers ready, and the OCSB committed to host, the conversation continued … with some 50 schools and 250 students participating.

OCSB students collaborate to Keep the Promise

OCSB students collaborate to Keep the Promise

Students from across the Ottawa Catholic School Board recently gathered at the annual Keep the Promise Student Summit to work together to bring an end to child poverty in Canada. Over 65 OCSB students from Grade 5 to Grade 10 brainstormed ways they could make a difference in the lives of impoverished children.


Visual resources

June Callwood

(June 2,1924 – April 14, 2007)

The Road to Kindness

by Patrick Conlon June described Canadian children living in poverty as the country’s ‘invisible citizens’. She knew what she was talking about. She knew firsthand how it felt to be one of them. Born in Chatham, Ontario, she was forced to quit school at 15 in order to help support her impoverished family. She eventually became a journalist and wrote for various newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail where she met and then married Trent Frayne, also a journalist. They raised four children. Their youngest, Casey, was only 20 when he was killed by a drunk driver while returning home from Queen’s University. Casey’s death scarred June for the rest of her life. Her first public step into social activism occurred unexpectedly in 1968. Toronto’s Yorkville district was then a popular hangout for wannabe hippies, and June happened to be there one night when a riot started. Tension was high and June feared the police would use violence to impose peace. She stepped boldly between the police and the crowd, many of whom were just young tourists from the suburbs. A photo from the Toronto Star archives shows her staring defiantly at the camera from the back of a paddy wagon before she was hauled away. June went on to become one of Canada’s fiercest and most persuasive advocates for social justice, always driven to help the marginalized and the left behind. She was involved in founding more than 50 social action organizations including Casey House, an AIDS hospice named in honour of her youngest child; Jessie’s, for teen parents; Nellie’s, for abused and homeless women; Maggie’s, for prostitutes; and Digger House, for at-risk teenagers living on the streets. For decades, she was also a persistent supporter of successive campaigns to end child poverty, nabbing every chance to publicly embarrass various levels of government into positive action by arming herself with statistical evidence of Canada’s embarrassing child poverty record on the global stage.

She also built a very successful career as a writer, with more than 30 books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles to her credit. But her heart was invested in her social action work and she was acknowledged accordingly, with 16 honorary degrees as well as many other auspicious awards including the Order of Ontario. In 1978, she was made a member of the Order of Canada, then promoted to Officer in 1985, and promoted again to Companion, the Order’s highest rank, in 2000. In 2004, the City of Toronto declared its intention to name a street in her honour and then followed a few years later with a park named after her. Despite her deep compassion for anyone robbed of justice or fair opportunity, children remained June’s first priority. She may have been the public face for various campaigns to end child poverty but she also worked quietly in the background and away from the lights. One of her favourite personal projects was a pop-up daycare centre in a major Toronto mall. Neighbourhood parents short of money weren’t charged anything to entrust their kids for the day to professional providers. In her final interview, aired on CBC-TV only days before she died, June was asked what she believed in. Her simple response distilled all of her hard work, all the decades of advocacy and setbacks and triumphs, into four words. “I believe in kindness,” she said. That is her true legacy.
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