Kanada: Landon Pearson

There can be no global security without respect for children. We have to be more than just observers of children's suffering, we have to be partners with them in their struggles.

— Landon Pearson

Landon Pearson (born 1930) has been actively involved with children and issues associated with young people for more than 40 years. A Canadian parliamentarian, Landon works for the protection and promotion of children’s rights, primarily in national and international contexts. She was instrumental in driving Canada's foreign policy on child labor, war-affected children, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition to numerous articles on child development and policy questions, she wrote "Children of Glasnost: Growing up Soviet".

Landon had a happy, middle-class childhood. She recalls the only mention of the dismal plight of other children around the world coming from her grandmother. Sometimes, when Landon refused to eat her dinner, her grandmother would admonish, "Remember the starving Armenians!" Landon, in retrospect, realizes that this first glimpse into the lives of less fortunate children did not have much of an impact on her. "My childhood imagination could not grasp that these were children just like me. All I knew was that they were creatures I should feel sorry for. The vocabulary of the time did not include the human rights of children. So I never thought of children in that context." Later in life, that perspective changed. As the wife of diplomat Geoffrey Pearson, Landon and her family traveled from Canada to France, then to Mexico, then to India, and finally to the Soviet Union. For the first time, observing life's conditions through the eyes of her own children, she gained firsthand insight into the needs of children. "Then the starving children my grandmother told me to pity (but never taught me how to help) became young persons whose rights to survival and protection had been trampled upon, young persons with whom I could now identify and with whom I could work in partnership so that together we could find solutions to their problems." In the USSR, she visited almost every republic to conduct research on all aspects of Soviet children's lives and development. It would be the beginning of her lifelong dedication to advocating for human rights on behalf of children.

Children Learning for Living Canadian Council on Children and Youth Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children