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Learning from our past to build a better future

February 22, 2023

A Reflection on Baden-Powell Week

For some Scouts around the world, Baden-Powell week is a time to celebrate the founder of the worldwide Scout Movement. Others have transformed this symbolic week into Scout-Guide Week to focus less on our founder and more on Scouting itself. And still others ignore the week altogether.

Since Scouts Canada embarked on its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Reconciliation Journey in 2021, we have listened to our membership and the communities that share the spaces where we practice Scouting.

We are at a point in our journey to have difficult conversations to learn from our past, so that we can truly fulfill our mission of developing youth and contribute to a better world. That means evolving to be considerate of diverse lived experiences and perspectives.


Learning from our past

Over the next few months, we encourage ALL our members, staff, volunteers, Scouters and youth to participate in a series of engagements and activities in which we will embrace an honest and balanced discussion of our founder Baden-Powell, whose beliefs continue to affect how Scouting is designed and experienced positively and negatively. This is a journey for all of us to be a little more compassionate and considerate in our conversations with each other, even in difficult discussions.

Aligned with our mission and centering on youth development, Scouts Canada strongly believes that we must review our past holistically to build a better future. We must reckon with the truth of the sides we aren’t proud of, as it continues to negatively impact many equity-seeking communities, especially Indigenous Nations across Canada. It’s the only way we can be better.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou 


Examining the Present

Since Baden-Powell’s initial vision, we have seen Scouting grow across the world in unique and vibrant ways, rooted in the values of stewardship, personal growth, and giving to others. The movement has grown beyond Baden Powell’s influence to welcome all youth. During the next few months, we will share and explore the many beliefs of Baden-Powell. We want to examine how some of those beliefs still influence Scouting, and discuss how it continues to impact, yes positively but sometimes negatively, the diverse people who encounter the Scouting movement. 


Building the Future

Scouting is a place where youth develop life skills. Learning to value respectful conversations on difficult subjects is essential for growing as an individual in a world of diverse peers and perspectives.

Only with the light of truth can we gear up for a hopeful and bright future we design together. Rather than avoiding topics of contention or shying away from new ideas outside of our comfort zones, we can support our Scouting community—through actions rooted in respectful and constructive dialogue. We must continuously adapt to the needs of our communities and learn from the past, so we are not doomed to repeat it.

Reflecting on our history, starting with who Baden-Powell was and what he continues to represent, is an incredible opportunity to help each of us grow more compassion, consideration, and insight—and Scouts Canada isn’t alone in recognizing this! For example, Disney movies now include educational components on censored and inappropriate materials of the past that were harmful, oppressive, and unfair to under-represented peoples, including blackface or “red-face”, amongst many others. We are taking an extremely relevant, critical, and proactive step for our movement! This is profound!


What you can do – Call to Action!

We invite our members to participate in this national conversation around our past, so we can be better equipped to design our future together.

You can expect upcoming engagement around an activity with critical reflection on the past. This will be followed by an acknowledgment and ownership of our history and the specific impact our actions had on First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, along with other equity-seeking communities. All of this work opens up space for our future to be extremely bright.

2024 has only just begun. Together, we can appreciate and respect new ways of understanding our history and make a choice — who we want to be, and what Scouts stands for going forward. As we continue to have these conversations, we can all be more confident and compassionate on how to learn from our past to create a positive and shared future for all.