The Ontario CWL’s resolution to ban youth under 18 from using tanning beds was successful, and hopes for more success with this year’s resolutions.

Ontario CWL to focus on social justice over the coming year

By 
  • August 10, 2014

Ontario’s Catholic Women’s League plans to bolster its social justice work during the forthcoming year.

The Ontario Provincial Council of the CWL convened in mid-July in Cobourg, Ont., for its annual convention where it assessed its success with last year’s resolutions and set the agenda for this coming year.

“I wanted to focus on the Pope’s mandate of social justice,” said Ontario CWL president Betty Colaneri, adding that many of the dioceses already run social justice programs. “So it was either continue what they were doing but increase in volume or create a special project geared toward social justice.”

This year Colaneri wants one of the CWL’s social justice focuses to be Feathers of Hope — Empowering First Nations Youth. This initiative was inspired by a First Nations Youth Action Plan published in February that encourages First Nations youth to work together “so they can get the education they need and the same rights as other youth across Canada,” said Colaneri. Poverty, suicide and hopelessness are some of the challenges facing First Nations youth, and the CWL is calling for the appropriate ministries and organizations at the provincial and federal levels to band together with First Nations’ leaders and young people to create a five-year action plan based on the 2014 report.

This convention’s second resolution is to have mandatory labelling on food that has been genetically modified.

“A lot of the products that you purchase now, if you go to the grocery store, you could buy a product that you have no clue it’s been genetically modified,” said Colaneri. She wants shoppers to make educated decisions on the food they buy.

Now that this mandate has passed the provincial convention, Colaneri is taking it to the national convention in Fredericton, N.B., which is being held Aug. 10-13. If the resolution passes the convention floor, the CWL will take it to the federal government in hopes of getting the government to amend the Food and Drug Act.

The CWL has had success in the past getting its voice heard in the hallways of power. One of last year’s resolutions, to prevent teens from using tanning beds in the province, was accomplished. Now it’s enshrined in law as Bill 30 Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Tanning Beds) 2013 where teens under age 18 cannot use tanning services and anyone that looks under age 25 must provide identification before using such services. Excessive use of ultraviolet light for tanning has been linked with skin cancer.

For this year’s convention, the CWL invited Ellis Katsof, CEO of Pathstone Foundations, an organization that focuses on the mental health of children, youth and families in the Niagara Region.

“You’ll talk about cancer, you’ll talk about other illnesses, but when it comes to mental health nobody really wants to talk about that. That’s what the resolution was about. So we’re bringing light to that, as well as social justice,” said Colaneri.</p<

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