Portrait of Canadian Pioneers Research Paper

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Portrait of Canadian Pioneers and Social Work

There have been many Canadians who have been pioneers of social work and have helped shape the current policy. While some of these individuals are much easier to research than others, they all have their value when it comes to what they have done for the people of Canada. Chosen here are Pierre Trudeau and John Joseph Kelso. Since both of these men were very committed to helping the Canadian people and ensuring the social welfare of the country, they are both pioneers in the social work field. Much of what is available in the social work field in Canada today came about because of these two men, and what they had to offer was instrumental in changing and adjusting policy that was not really working effectively and that would not have been valuable for the people in the future.

Background and Career Highlights

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Pierre Trudeau was born in Montreal, Canada in October of 1919 and died in September of 2000 (Turner, 2005). He was laid to rest in his family's crypt in Quebec (Ricci, 2009). His parents were Charles-Emile Trudeau and Grace Elliott (Couture, 1998). His father was a lawyer and a businessman (Couture, 1998). Trudeau was educated at the Universite de Montreal, where he earned his law degree in 1943 (Turner, 2005). He also served in the Canadian Army and earned a masters degree in political economy from the Graduate School of Public Administration at Harvard University (Couture, 1998). During his life he was a lawyer, a jurist, a professor, an author, a journalist, a member of parliament, a professor, and Prime Minister of Canada (twice) (Ricci, 2009).

Research Paper on Portrait of Canadian Pioneers and Assignment

Once he was elected Prime Minister he wanted to make Canada a "just society." To that end, he lobbied for a participatory democracy (Couture, 1998). Universal health care and regional development were causes he was very serious about, and he expanded and made significant changes to the welfare program in Canada so more people who needed help could get it (Couture, 1998). That was important, because many people were struggling -- especially the very young, the very old, and the disabled. Before Trudeau made changes, these people were not given the help they really needed to have the basics in life like adequate food and shelter (Turner, 2005).

John Joseph Kelso was born in Ireland in 1864, and died in 1935 (McCullagh, 2008). His father's name was George, and his mother's name was Anna (McCullagh, 2008). Kelso was 10 years old when his family made the move to Toronto, Canada, looking for a better life and a new place to settle (McCullagh, 2008). He enrolled at Jarvis Collegiate when he was 20, and graduated from there in only a year (McCullagh, 2008). Up until that time his school record had been erratic, mostly because he needed to take odd jobs to help his impoverished family. Kelso became an excellent writer and speaker, though, because he studied the Bible and Shakespeare at night by the light of a coal oil lamp (McCullagh, 2008).

He became a journalist and began to write about the poverty and tragedy he saw every day on the streets of the city. 1887 he founded the Toronto Humane Society to address issues with the mistreatment of animals, as he saw the cruelty to them as well as children (McCullagh, 2008). At age 29 he took a job in Ontario as the first Superintendent of Neglected and Dependent Children (McCullagh, 2008). From that time until his death, his focus remained on helping children and animals. Until he took up those causes, there was no one to advocate for those who could not protect themselves (McCullagh, 2008). Kelso was deeply affected by this, and felt that nothing was being done for the segments of society that had the fewest options and the biggest opportunities for mistreatment.

The Pioneers' Significant Contributions to Social Welfare in Canada

Both Trudeau and Kelso made significant contributions to social welfare in Canada. Most of the work done by Trudeau was done when he was Prime Minister (Ricci, 2009). At that point he had the power to make changes. What he saw was that Canadians could not afford health insurance, and many of them were unable to get adequate food and housing or pay their bills. Those who needed the most help from society, such as the elderly and infirm, were those who were being pushed aside because they were not able to contribute as much financially. That was unfortunate for those people, and it was something Trudeau took very seriously. Since he was in a position to make changes, he started to do so right away. Most of his focus was on healthcare, but he also greatly expanded the welfare program in order to ensure more people would be able to get food and pay their bills (Ricci, 2009).

Kelso had much more humble beginnings and less of a formal education than Trudeau, but he still made highly important contributions to a number of social areas in Canada. Most notably, he was deeply concerned with the welfare of children and animals (McCullagh, 2008). Once he became a journalist he began to write about this issues, and ended up founding societies that helped animals and helped children. He became a strong advocate for children in Toronto and throughout Canada, and his Children's Aid Society was created specifically to help them (McCullagh, 2008).

He ended up with a lot of fame, but he certainly did not seek it out. However, his strong advocacy for children spread and ended up changing laws and regulations in Britain and the United States, as well as Canada (McCullagh, 2008). In that sense he had a farther reaching influence than Trudeau, but he also focused on more specific areas instead of addressing larger issues that encompassed all of society. The establishment of child welfare reform was the most important part of what Kelso offered to Canada during his lifetime (McCullagh, 2008).

Conclusions About the Pioneers' Impact on Social Welfare

Both Trudeau and Kelso contributed a great deal to the development of social welfare services in Canada. What they did was important, and something that not everyone would have felt compelled to do. It is important to draw conclusions about what each man had to offer, not to judge whether they were right or wrong in their desire for change, but to consider the impact they had on Canada and its people. It is difficult to measure the value of a person's contribution to society, however, because that contribution is subjective in many ways. For example, despite all that Trudeau did to improve the plight of many Canadians, there were still people who thought he was trying to make too many changes and who did not believe in the vision he had for the country (Ricci, 2009; Turner, 2005). Because that was the case, there were disagreements about what he could have or should have done that were unrelated to the good he actually accomplished. This was unfortunate, because it took away from his legacy and the value of the social changes he created.

Still, Trudeau is deeply appreciated by many people in Canada today for the focus he had on making sure people were treated much more fairly than they were in the past. The biggest example of that was the expansion of the welfare program (Ricci, 2009). Up until Trudeau lobbied for changes and used his power as Prime Minister to move things forward, an alarming number of Canadians fell through the cracks and could not get the help they needed. These included children and young people who were not able to fend for themselves, but it also included the elderly and disabled who were either unable to work any longer or who had conditions that kept them from providing for themselves in a way that allowed them to feed and house themselves.

Sweeping changes were clearly needed to the welfare system so that people had places to live and enough food to eat, and would not be living on the streets. Of course, making changes to the welfare system of a country does not happen overnight, and it does not always protect everyone. There are still people who fall through the cracks in the programs the government has created. Changes were also needed to the healthcare system, because people who had little money were not able to get treatment for any kind of disease or condition. Trudeau changed that, and built up the social structure of Canada so more people who needed assistance would be able to get it and could improve their lives.

Kelso also advocated for change in Canada, and his focus was on animals and children (McCullagh, 2008). Since animals do not have a voice, someone has to speak up for them and protect them from harm. Because Kelso was dedicated to doing this, there is a humane society in Toronto that cares for a number of animals to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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