The BC Hear the Child Society is a non-profit society formed in late 2009 to support opportunities for children to share their views and be heard when their best interests are being determined in family justice decision-making.
We believe in:
- The child’s right to have a voice and to be heard in matters affecting them;
- The opportunity for children to exercise that right; and
- An interview process that is respectful, accessible and non-evaluative.
Leaders in hearing and integrating the voice of children into decisions affecting their lives.
The BC Hear the Child Society:
- promotes the inclusion of the voices of children in decisions affecting them;
- maintains a roster of trained non-evaluative child interviewers; and
- provides public and professional education.
Our mandate flows from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Family Law Act, SBC, 2011 c.25.
Article 12 of the Convention requires that State Parties (including Canada) must “assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child.” This is a right, not a requirement.
The Family Law Act requires that in making any decision affecting a child, the only consideration must be the best interests of that child (s37(1)). In considering those interests, the parties and the court must consider “the child’s views, unless it would be inappropriate to consider them.” (s37(2)(b)).
The Society builds on past work in the Province including that of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD) on Meaningful Child Participation in Family Justice Processes, funded early on by The Law Foundation of British Columbia. This work highlighted gaps in hearing children in British Columbia, and piloted a non-therapeutic interview practice in Kelowna in 2005-2006 with involvement from the bar, bench and families with children eight years of age and older whose best interests were being determined in separation and divorce proceedings. The “Hear the Child” non-evaluative child interview practice was continued by several people involved in the pilot, and has been used and adapted by additional interviewers in Kelowna and elsewhere in British Columbia.
Board of Directors
|Bev Churchill, Chair
Lawyer & Mediator
Mary E. Mouat, QC, Treasurer
|Zahra Jenab, Vice-Chair
Jenab & Company, North Vancouver
Bobbi Poushinsky, Secretary