“I see the kinds of stories that we cover every day and some of the children who fall through the cracks. I know that the programs exist out there, and if they just knew about them, or if these programs could be even more widespread I think that’s what encourages me to do more for foundations that help youth, more particularly at-risk youth.”
As one of Canada’s most respected and admired morning television hosts, Beverly Thomson has interviewed revered and influential figures from across the globe. She is a seasoned broadcaster, reporter, and journalist who is passionate about issues, both locally and on an international level. A recipient of the 2006 Gemini Humanitarian Award, Thomson is also an active supporter of multiple charities and causes, including multiple child welfare organizations. Thomson became co-host of Canada AM in 2006, after spending many years on-air for Global. We were thrilled to have Thomson attend this year’s Women’s Golf Classic in support of the Foundation. We found a few minutes to chat with her about why she feels compelled to give-back to her community and what supporting vulnerable youth means to her.
Children’s Aid Foundation: You recently attended our annual Women’s Golf Classic. What was that like?
Beverly Thomson: That was an absolutely incredible event on every level. I do a number of different events for charities, but this was very different. It was so lovely and so well organized, and I would say: yes we were there to raise money, that’s why the event was there, but oh my goodness it was such fun and everybody took part. It was an evening of entertainment and of the highest calibre and the food was terrific. I didn’t know what to expect, I hadn’t been there before, but everything all came together. It was just incredible.
CAF: You’re involved with a number of different charities. Why do you feel compelled to give back to your community?
BT: I think for me, some people say “oh it’s your responsibility when you’re in this [television] industry”, and I’ve always shied away from saying that. I actually believe it’s a privilege, because if you can use a position of any kind of notoriety at any level, if you can do something to help others, that’s the inspiration. And I think at the end of the day, every time I do an event, I come away thinking “I’m the one that’s been inspired.” It’s so true, whether it’s the speakers or somebody’s who benefited from the Children’s Aid Foundation, that’s the humanity of what we do and that’s what hits your heart.
CAF: I understand that you’re a National Ambassador for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards. How do you think programs like the Duke of Edinburgh encourage vulnerable kids to dream bigger?
BT: When you’re talking about vulnerable children and teenagers, and really young adults, the name of the game is to see what will reach them, what will touch them, what will inspire them, what will propel them forward to find something that’s their own. And I think the Duke of Edinburgh program encourages people to reach for their best in so many different areas. For example, pick-up a sport or an instrument or a craft or a hobby and see where you can go with it. This is the kind of thing that makes kids successful. Whether it’s on a basketball court in terms of something that’s provided in a community service or it’s them volunteering in the community being encouraged to give-back themselves, so many at-risk youth find meaning where they’ve been feeling so alone, and there isn’t any help or support because they’re not a part of the mainstream. What happens is they are a part of the mainstream when they’re in that community and being encouraged to achieve different things in life. Whether you’re at-risk or not it can be life changing.
CAF: What do you think makes Canada unique from a global perspective?
BT: I think Canada, even in my generation, has changed drastically in terms of its image of itself. I laughed when I saw one of the headlines in the paper saying “Sorry, we’re Canadian”, and basically the article was saying that we have left that behind; we’re proud of what we accomplish. I think the most inspired nationally that I’ve been in my life is when I was in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and seeing the outpouring of support for our athletes but even bigger than that, support for our country. And it wasn’t just on an athletic scale, it was a palpable pride on an international level. It was so nice to see it’s not all about politics, it’s about showing our colours and being proud of our flag, and for once not saying “stick a flag on your backpack and everybody will treat you nice”. It’s so much more than that now.
CAF: You’ve spoken with so many different people who have overcome incredible struggles. Is there something you’ve learned from them about the human spirit?
BT: Absolutely. I think volunteerism in this country is one of the most amazing things that I’ve been able to be a part of. I’ve certainly done volunteering myself, but when I see these people who have raised money, staged events, reached-out to corporate and private partners, for government assistance, and made things happen, it’s actually tears for me sometimes. And then I walk away and think “what in the world have I done with my life?” These people are super human and it’s not once, it’s twice, it’s three times, it’s 25 times in an hour listening to some of these volunteers from different foundations and what they’ve done. It feeds people to be able to give back, and for those who have been recipients of this help, like the Children’s Aid Society [and Foundation], then they can turn around and pay it forward. And I think that’s the fabric of this country and really the fabric of the community.
CAF: Is there anything else you’d like to add about supporting child welfare initiatives?
BT: I think, at the end of the day, when we can support our kids on any number of different levels, it’s a wonderful thing. And for me, I’m wearing a couple of different hats; I’m a mother myself and I have two teenagers, one 20 now, and when I sit there as a broadcaster, a reporter, a journalist, and I see the kinds of stories that we cover every day and some of the children who fall through the cracks. I know that the programs exist out there, and if they just knew about them, or if these programs could be even more widespread I think that’s what encourages me to do more for foundations that help youth, more particularly at-risk youth. I see it, I report it, we talk about what needs to change whether it’s at a government level, a policy level, a legislation level, or community. And that’s what inspires me to do more.