Tuesday, November 2 2021

A seven-minute presentation on a sensitive but serious topic – sexual predation – earned Christyna Caldwell first place in the senior speech category at 4-H Manitoba Communications Extravaganza.

As a member of the Kenton Kraftsmen 4-H Club, Caldwell was among 60 4-H members to participate in the event held virtually for the first time, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic …

“My speech was the story of the petition that I started to lobby the federal government to change the Criminal Code of Canada,” said Caldwell, who is in grade 12 at Hamiota Collegiate.

“Hearing that I had won, I was ecstatic! When I learned that the government would not make the suggested changes to the Criminal Code, I was incredibly disappointed, but going to the Provincials with my speech allowed me to continue to raise awareness about the abuse. child sex and keep my message in the foreground of people’s minds.

Caldwell was the winner in the 15-17 age group. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

Ripples in the pond

“Each of us can make a difference. Together we can make a difference! – Barbara Mikulski

Have you ever heard the name of Peter Whitmore? Peter Whitmore is one of Canada’s most notorious pedophiles; he was convicted of sex offenses against nine children over a 13-year period starting in 1993 and ending in 2006. One of the last two children in 2006 that he abducted and assaulted is my good friend from the Zachary Miller family.

Zach was 10 years old when Whitmore used a 13-year-old boy he had abducted in Winnipeg to pull him away from the safety of his farm in Whitewood, Saskatchewan, allowing Whitmore to abduct Zach. The two boys were held captive at an old abandoned farm in Kipling, Saskatchewan. (less than 20 minutes from the Miller’s farm) for three days before Zach escapes and Peter Whitmore is placed under arrest.

Before the trial, Whitmore secured a plea deal: if he pleaded guilty to all counts, he would not have the dangerous offender designation, and Zach and the other boy would not have to testify in front of the court. the tribunal. Whitmore accepted the deal and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for seven years. Peter Whitmore remains in federal prison today and although he has been eligible for parole since 2013 to date, he is not seeking parole.

It was loopholes like this in our justice system that made me wonder how can someone be repeatedly convicted of heinous crimes against children and still come out of jail to reoffend? Has the public been informed of his release? Or was he just able to walk through the prison doors, return to everyday life, and find his next victim? With his past offenses, why wasn’t he made a dangerous offender long before he kidnapped Zach? The “dangerous offender” designation is reserved for Canada’s most violent sexual criminals and predators. Crown attorneys can apply for the designation at sentencing and must demonstrate that there is a high risk that the criminal will commit violent or sexual offenses in the future. I think it’s so important that more designations be given to more dangerous offenders like Peter Whitmore, and that the public be more aware that people like him are out there.

I decided to try to pressure the government to change the dangerous offender designation. But how do you go about putting pressure on the government in the first place? How to write a legal petition? What are the rules and regulations? How old do you have to be to create a petition to lobby the government? How should I formulate it? These are just a few of the dozens of questions I needed answered.

My petition was online for 90 days, and by the day it closed, I had received 1,396 signatures from across Canada. I had received support from every province and territory. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who took the time to show their support for my petition. It is still hard to believe the support I have received.

What is truly remarkable to me is the number of child victims of sexual abuse who have reached out to me thanking me for giving a voice to the subject and pushing for change. It makes me extremely proud!

When I received the response to my petition on December 11, 2020, I was more than disappointed. They gave a rather symbolic political response. Their response was basically that there is already a section of the code that deals with sexual touching, completely missing the intent behind the proposed change.

While I was disappointed with their decision not to make a change to this part of the Criminal Code, I believe that all the attention my petition has attracted across Canada has sparked a much needed dialogue on sexual abuse on the children. Much like throwing a rock in a pond, starting difficult conversations like this will have a ripple effect that will keep people talking about things that make them uncomfortable and encourage people to stand up for what they believe in. . If you have the chance, throw this rock in the pond and see what ripples you can create.

In the words of Nelson Mandela… “History will judge us by the difference we make in the lives of children!”

4-H beneficial

Beyond her years, the 17-year-old daughter of David and Val Caldwell, has been involved with 4-H for 11 years.

Caldwell said the experiences on a variety of fronts, under the guidance of leader Candace Tolton, have sparked positivity at the club and the personal level.

“Being involved has allowed me to overcome shyness and increase my self-confidence, and sharpen my public speaking skills,” said Caldwell, who enjoys life on the farm with his parents. near Harding.

“4-H has also allowed me to give back to my community in so many ways and has opened doors for me to experience locally, provincially and nationally. ”

She has received the Jean Gompf Memorial Trophy five times. The trophy is awarded to the Kenton Kraftsmen member who goes the furthest in “speeches”, which is an essential criteria for being involved in 4-H. Caldwell also won the 4-H Gold Watch Award in 2020 and was recently awarded the South Parkland Fellowship.

In addition to being one of six youth currently enrolled at the club, Caldwell is also Junior President of the South Parkland Area Council and serves as a Youth Advisor on the Manitoba 4-H Provincial Board of Directors.

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