During my first term as Mayor, I received a request from a 10-year old girl to meet. She wanted to discuss the construction of a monument to Children’s Rights in Guelph.
We met and she achieved her goal.
I just received an e-mail from her father to say that his daughter, Rebecca Anne Dixon, has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.
It was clear then, as it is today, this young woman would make a difference.
I am told when a member of the forces is lost in an overseas mission that flowers are placed at the monument. Rebecca was at the monument last year and saw this and she was pleased to see that people understood her vision.
The monument, located in Riverside Park near the floral clock, consists of three large stone slabs surrounded at the bottom by stones from all of the Canadian provinces and territories. The monument features an engraving of children at play and quotes from the United Nations’ Conventions of the Rights of the Child, which was a series of proclamations regarding the rights of children internationally.
Rebecca worked with well-known Guelph artist Harold Muller on the monument’s design. Unique features include the Royal Cipher – the use of which is allowed only with express consent of the British Royal Family; words from Col. John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields;” an image of two children – one holding a ball and one flowers; and a listing of children’s rights including survival, protection, development and participation.
Rebecca chose Guelph as the most fitting of all Canadian cities in which to build the monument, in part because it is the birthplace of Col. John McCrae, whose famous poem, “In Flanders Fields,” commemorates fallen soldiers.
In her words at age 10:
“I live with my parents. We are a family. I have good medical care and a good life. I go to school. I go to Church if I want. If anyone abuses me the Government will punish them. I do not have to work in a dangerous place. I do not have to work. I have protection if I am arrested. I have the right to express myself. And mostly I have the right to play and be happy. I am a Canadian. I have all these rights. I have these rights because lots of brave men and women fought for me to have them. Thousands and thousands died fighting for my rights.”