Mary Gordon receives the Governor General’s Innovation Award 2018

The Governor General’s Innovation Awards

“recognize and celebrate outstanding Canadian individuals, teams and organizations – trailblazers and creators who contribute to our country’s success, who help share our future and who inspire the next generation…building an inclusive, compassionate society will be the keys to Canada’s success as a caring, efficient and prosperous nation.”

Mary Gordon’s acceptance speech

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, and to the Manning Foundation, appreciation for your nomination for this wonderful innovation award.

In the abuse of power, be it bullying in childhood, domestic violence in the home, bullying in the workplace, or on the world stage, the absence of empathy is a common denominator.

If aggression is unchecked it can be a gateway to poor mental health and violence.

When children develop empathy, they help more and hurt less. The leaders of tomorrow are sitting in the classrooms of today and they need imagination and empathy to be able to identify and solve society’s problems.

In Roots of Empathy classrooms children are coached to observe how a baby is feeling and in the process they come to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others. They become emotionally literate. They are living in an emotionally illiterate world, which they will change, child by child.

With the rising tide of inequality and an unprecedented 65 million refugees on the march, we need a world where children acknowledge differences but recognize our shared humanity through the universality of our feelings.

Through Roots of Empathy children develop perspective taking skills as they find the humanity in the tiny baby. These skills often called ‘cognitive empathy’, are essential and are the first stage of any conflict resolution.

Roots of Empathy’s goal is to break inter-generational cycles of violence with a mission to build a more caring, peaceful and civil society through developing empathy in children.