Keeping children at the forefront of Canada’s response to COVID-19

A statement from the the Dallaire Initiative on keeping children at the forefront of Canada’s response to COVID-19 | March 2020

We are reaching out today to communicate with our friends, supporters, partners, and community with a plea to keep children front and centre during this unprecedented and troubling time.

Many messages have been sent in the past few weeks helping us understand what we as individuals must do to protect ourselves and our families from the spread COVID-19. As an organization, we have adhered to and aligned with global and local guidance to protect our staff and their families. However, our collective responsibility toward the vulnerable children around the world remains critical, especially at times like these.

We continue to think of the children – many of whom are facing new challenges. The implications of these challenges should not be overlooked: potential for increased exposure to domestic abuse; children being orphaned by parents who succumb to COVID-19; increased instances of teen pregnancy and school drop-outs; and, less obvious, increased screen time and the risk of exploitation for online recruitment into violence, just to name a few. As PM Trudeau stated yesterday, “For far too many people, home is not a safe place to be and some have no place to go. Tough times fall the hardest on the most vulnerable”. Other more localized crises have shown how children’s vulnerabilities increase in times of emergency, and we anticipate that will apply on a larger scale in this pandemic.

So we ask today, how do children fit into our planning for a public health crisis? How are we preparing for the unique vulnerabilities of children and youth? How are Canadian law enforcement officers preparing to protect children and youth? Even for those children where home is a safe place to be, the Dallaire Initiative understands that children and youth have an underdeveloped sense of risk and long- term consequences until they reach their early 20s and may not truly understand all the risks of the pandemic. We believe this is the moment to start broadening the conversation, and to consider the wider societal impacts that need our attention in order to reduce the long-term effects of COVID-19.

At this time, based on years of working with children and the security sector in complex contexts, the Dallaire Initiative continues to provide guidance and scenarios that may help. We are continuing our important research work, planning for our operations post COVID-19, analyzing the impact of our training and programming to date in our countries of focus, and refining our pedagogical tools and processes. We hope to use this opportunity to augment our Building Connections Project in Canada and distance learning offerings that both can assist communities and those in law enforcement to enhance their understanding of children and at-risk youth during this time. Moreover, we believe that understanding the mental health considerations of these front-line personnel is also critical to the protection of children’s rights and our ability to thrive post-COVID-19.

Now is not the time for us to lose focus on the prioritization of children’s rights and their protection. In this globalized world, we will see the impacts of deep economic strain for years to come due to COVID- 19, which will serve to increase the vulnerability of children on numerous fronts. Children are too often burdened by these impacts yet are rarely considered in the solutions. The Dallaire Initiative understands that your support for our work will be even more crucial to building a world where the recruitment and use of children into violence becomes “unthinkable” if we are to achieve global peace and security.

We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support and encouragement of the Dallaire Initiative – with your help we will progressively end the recruitment and use of children into violence.

We wish you continued health and peace.


Allons-y Vol. 5 (2021) Call for Papers - Deadline extended

Allons-y: Journal of Children Peace and Security volume 5 (2021) will focus on gender and the implementation of the Vancouver Principles. The coming year will see events, reflections, and new research on the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. Building on these events, the next volume of Allons-y is calling for policy-oriented papers from academics and practitioners on how consideration of gender is important for the successful implementation of the Vancouver Principles.

Suggested topics include:

  • Empirical work on the inclusion of women in peace operations in support of Principle 11;
  • The role gender plays in the implementation of the other principles;
  • Guidance on how practitioners can productively move beyond the conception of gender- meaning-women that is all too common in current policy and practice;
  • The relationship between the Vancouver Principles and Canada’s feminist international assistance policy or other nations’ feminist foreign policies;
  • The interaction between the Vancouver Principles and the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations;
  • Or other relevant topics relating to gender, peace operations, and child soldiers.

Allons-y: Journal of Children, Peace and Security publishes three types of articles: commentaries, policy articles, and research articles, and proposed articles should conform to one of these categories. Commentaries provide reflections and analysis by experienced practitioners, academics, and policy makers on issues relevant to the Vancouver Principles. Policy articles form the core of Allons-y and focus on evaluating, sharing, and recommending good practices for policies related to implementation of the Vancouver Principles globally. Research articles provide synthesis of existing research or novel empirical and theoretical findings of relevance to the implementation of the Vancouver Principles.

Interested authors should provide an abstract of 100 words, a short bio, their affiliation, and indicate whether they are proposing a commentary or policy or research article by 1 June 2023 to both [email protected] and [email protected].

Authors of accepted abstracts will be informed by 15 June 2020, and asked to submit their article by 1 October 2020. Peer review and revisions will occur between then and 31 January 2021, and the issue will be published at the end of March 2021.


K4P Workshop Participants

Winter Newsletter 2020

Civil Society Organization workshops in South Sudan

  • In September 2019, the Dallaire Initiative collaborated with three community partners in South Sudan to develop curriculum and facilitate workshops: Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), World Vision International (WVI), and SWIGO (Support for Women in Governance). The 3 curriculum packages designed for our joint projects with JHR, WVI and SWIGO were designed with a prevention-oriented and capacity building methodology to enable key stakeholders to be force multipliers in creating awareness about recruitment and use of children as soldiers, as well as increasing skills and strategies to develop protective factors for vulnerable children.
    • JHR: The JHR workshop was very successful with 15 journalist participants. The workshop included a 2-day classroom training on ethical human rights reporting, the issue of child soldiering, and how the media can be used as a tool for preventing recruitment. Following the classroom training, the participants conducted a 4-day field mission to Bor with representatives from the Dallaire Initiative and JHR. The result was the production of high quality and professional print, radio, and television features on local experiences with child soldiering. The journalists commented that they were introduced to a plethora of new journalistic practices, and most notably, this was the first time they were made aware of the influence the media can have in preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Following the classroom and field training, many journalists expressed that they felt empowered to continue to use their role as journalists to make a difference on the issue. One participant (September 2019) stated: “The event is so good; we have learned a lot things that will improve lives of children in the country.” The workshop resulted in requests from all 15 participants and their media houses for more resources (technical skills and support) that could assist them in raising community awareness about the prevention of the recruitment and use of children through print, radio and TV programs.
    • SWIGO: In partnership with SWIGO, the workshop trained and mentored 15 women leaders from various women-led organizations in South Sudan. Following a 2-day training workshop, the project participants made action plans on facilitating community dialogue or a community-based activity focused on preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers in South Sudan.
    • World Vision: In partnership with WVI, the Dallaire Initiative conducted a joint project that trained and mentored 12 World Vision Child Protection Focal Points who work at WVI’s Yambio Field Office. The aim of the project was to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Yambio – Gbudue State by further strengthening the capacity of WVI staff to implement a series of prevention-focused, community-based initiatives in line with WVI’s community and systems-based approach to child protection. Following a 2-day training workshop in Juba, and upon their return to Yambio, the participants began implementing community action plans for the coming 6 months that focused on the prevention of recruitment and re-recruitment of child soldiers in the region.


Vancouver Principles Workshop

  • On 14 November 2023 the Dallaire Initiative and the Rwanda Defence Force cohosted a workshop that brought together regional countries and partners in Kigali to discuss ways to prevent children from being used as weapons of war. The workshop coincided with the 2nd anniversary of the Vancouver Principles, a Canadian-led initiative which seeks improve child protection standards by nations that contribute troops to UN Peacekeeping missions.
  • The workshop theme was, “Honouring two years of the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers with a focus on effective implementation.”. The theme was chosen to highlight the VPs in responding to the issue of recruitment and use of child soldiers around the world.
  • Rwanda is a founding endorser and the first African country to endorse the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. Rwanda also spearheaded the 2015 Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians in UN peacekeeping.
  • The workshop aimed to raise awareness of the VPs and provide a platform for stakeholders to agree on a harmonized strategy for the implementation of the VPs. This included building strategies on how to engage those states that haven’t yet endorsed the VPs, share best practices from different countries, and problem-solve anticipated challenges with implementation.
  • In addition to high-level representation from across the Rwandan government and UN agencies, the workshop was attended by delegates from nine countries, including Canada, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic, Republic of Congo.


K4P workshop

  • Launched in February 2019, our Knowledge for Prevention (K4P) project aims to develop predictive models for better estimating numbers of child soldiers, as well as incorporate child-centred indicators within early warning system monitoring of mass atrocities. Through this knowledge development, K4P seeks to improve prevention mechanisms to better protect children in conflict environments.
  • In October 2019, the Dallaire Initiative, in partnership with the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the University of Oslo, hosted an international symposium for the K4P project. It brought together a diverse group of academics, practitioners, and policy makers with expertise in child soldiering, peacekeeping, genocide forecasting, peace research, and international law to discuss the project’s approach and foster a network of like-minded individuals to improve research, knowledge sharing, and programming related to K4P and the objectives of the Dallaire Initiative.

The Slaight Family Foundation announces $15M Global Initiative for Women and Girls

TORONTO (MARCH 3, 2023) – To mark International Women’s Day, The Slaight Family Foundation is donating $15 million to 15 international organizations working to improve human rights and opportunities for women and girls.

The recipient organizations – working mainly in impoverished, fragile or conflict-affected areas – each focus on different issues facing women and girls, including human rights abuses, child marriages, sex trafficking, legal support, HIV and AIDS and education.

“The aim of this gift is to improve conditions for women and girls living in difficult circumstances, who represent some of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Gary Slaight of The Slaight Family Foundation. “The projects we are funding will leverage the expertise of these vital organizations to protect women and girls in the most fragile countries from direct harm, rebuild the lives of those who have been unjustly affected by conflict, deprivation and disease and give them the tools and support they need to survive and thrive.”

“This investment in international NGOs is unprecedented and the projects being supported will directly assist more than one million women and girls in some of the world’s most fragile regions,” said Dr. Samantha Nutt, President of War Child Canada. “It’s such an important time to be highlighting this issue. For The Slaight Family Foundation to recognize the threats faced by women and girls, and acknowledge that their concerns matter with such an historic gift, is a profound message to send. On behalf of the entire group we extend our sincerest gratitude to The Slaight Family Foundation for their incredible support of our collective work.”

Since 2013, The Slaight Family Foundation has funded several strategic initiatives to multiple organizations. These initiatives started with gifts to five Toronto hospitals to support priority healthcare issues, followed by programs to address global humanitarianism, healthy development of children and youth across Canada, support for Indigenous issues and, last year, a seniors’ initiative to help keep seniors in their homes and communities, including the Allan Slaight Seniors’ Fund at the United Way Greater Toronto.

Project Information

AIDS-Free World

Sub-Saharan African countries with UN peacekeeping missions and high rates of HIV in women

Develop and roll out a smartphone app to tap young women’s unique knowledge of and solutions to living under the threat of sexual violence. Women in remote areas who answer open-ended, recorded questions orally, in private, as easily as leaving a voicemail message, will be transformed from victims with lived experiences to experts helping to end sexual violence against women.

Canadian Feed the Children


Creation of a new ‘Livelihood & Gender Equality Fund’ championing the human rights of girls and women in Ethiopia. We will focus on reducing the forced migration of girls and women by helping them finish their education and improve future prospects including starting new, sustainable businesses through an agribusiness hub to develop female entrepreneurship. The initiative includes a sexual and reproductive health and rights campaign, strengthening community police, legal and healthcare systems, and a new research study on child migration.

Canadian Red Cross

South Sudan/Central Africa Republic

The Canadian Red Cross is launching an innovative program that brings health solutions directly into crisis and conflict areas, reaching women and girls who are cut off from health facilities due to violence. Essential health care and supplies delivered by local Red Cross responders will increase safe pregnancies, improve nutrition, and provide access to clean water and lifesaving treatments for disease.

CARE Canada


Innovate and improve menstrual hygiene management for school-age girls with female genital mutilation – develop and test new solutions with established women and girls’ groups, train women to produce hygiene products locally, improve school sanitation facilities and increase community awareness.

Crossroads International


The program will increase access to gender-responsive heath services and launch a youth-led awareness campaign for sexual and reproductive health rights among adolescent girls and boys at risk of child trafficking, forced prostitution, child labour and sexual violence in Kedougou, Senegal.

Human Rights Watch

Middle East/N Africa

End discrimination of women and girls by documenting the abuses of male guardianship system in the Middle East and North Africa. Year 1 will focus on documenting male guardianship in Qatar; how lack of domestic violence legislation and discriminatory laws leaves women exposed to domestic violence in Kuwait; and the start of mapping how and where male guardianship exists in the region.

Partners In Health Canada

Malawi & Sierra Leone

Improved access to sexual and reproductive health services especially for adolescents, strengthened care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and increased availability of high-quality obstetric care. Activities include health worker training, resourcing and delivery of clinical care, educational initiatives for young people, and community-based work to raise awareness about women’s and girls’ rights and promote health seeking behaviour.

Right To Play


Transform the lives of more than 50,000 girls across Mozambique through a gender-responsive education program that removes barriers to access, builds teacher capacity, and positively impacts national programs and policies. The result will be higher literacy rates, lower drop-out rates, and a generation of girls who are better supported to succeed.

Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
Helping reduce child soldier recruitment and conflict-based sexual violence through capacity building of national military and police forces, with a focus on female force members; enhance the Dallaire Initiative’s cadre of female international trainers and global champions; raise awareness amongst the global community on the critical role of women in preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Save the Children

Sierra Leone

Improve knowledge and skills of adolescent girls and boys to be aware of and exercise their rights around sexual and reproductive health and gender equality, to be able to make their own informed decisions related to marriage and pregnancy. This action will transform harmful practices and attitudes that reinforce gender inequalities and gender-based violence and strengthen the institutional and policy environment to prevent child early and forced marriage.

Stephen Lewis Foundation

Sub-Saharan Africa

Expand holistic programmes that address gender inequalities to improve access to HIV prevention services, and support treatment adherence for women and girls living with HIV. Expand the global grandmothers movement through Grandmother Gatherings. Empower grandmothers caring for children orphaned by AIDS to claim their human rights and lead their communities, through peer support, healthcare, skills training, economic empowerment and advocacy.



In Somalia, only 30 per cent of children attend primary school with girls accounting for less than half of the total enrollment. This project will focus on girls and children with disabilities to improve their access to early childhood education (ECE) services. Community based and alternative ECE programs will be established in rural areas and provide appropriate curriculum that caters to the children’s different needs. It will also include education for parents and communities so that they can better support their children’s education.

War Child


Empower women and girls to seek justice and tackle impunity within their communities by providing critical legal support for those affected by or at risk of gender-based violence; through targeted educational programming, ensure that girls can uphold their rights, have greater self-determination, and move out of poverty over the long-term.

WE Charity

Sierra Leone (Kono District)

Focus on advancing the rights of vulnerable women and girls by empowering them with the tools, support and skills to bring an end to inter-generational cycles of poverty and injustice. The three-part program will implement training to address human rights abuses and threats affecting them. Part one will deliver community-wide training to create greater awareness about women’s rights and human rights abuses. Part two will provide vulnerable women and girls education on their rights, referral support and life skills to increase their opportunities. Part three will offer the highest-risk women and girls vocational training and accelerated learning opportunities.

World Vision


Implement the DREAM program - Dedicated to Reducing Early Marriage in Mali - to address the root cause of child marriage; will include sexual and reproductive health services, education and economic livelihood training; upgrading schools with girls washrooms, training parents, teachers, and faith leaders on the consequences of child marriage; train mothers and girls in financial literacy, life skills and income generating activities to increase household income.

For more information:

Jeri Brown, Media Profile

[email protected]

Office: 416-342-1834 Mobile: 416-455-7188