Right on time for the new school year, the B.C. Ministry of Education has made a change — prompted by B.C. Girl Guide advocacy — that will benefit teen girls enrolled in Girl Guides across the province.
Effective September 1, Girl Guides will receive four credits for achieving the Canada Cord, and the Trailblazer Leadership Gold Award, for a total of 8 possible graduation credits, which is equivalent to two high school classes. This change will bring the Girl Guides credit in line with similar groups.
Under the B.C. government’s external credits program, B.C. teens can receive high school graduation credit for approved programs, like Cadets, Scouts, Girl Guides, etc. To qualify, programs must be governed by a provincial, national, or international body; have certified instructors, be non-discriminatory, and offer credentials to a number of students throughout B.C.
Kylar Tennart, a 12-year-old Ladysmith Pathfinder, (the 12-14 bracket of Girl Guides) noticed that Girl Guides received only two credits for achieving the Canada Cord, a prestigious award given to guides who put their leadership skills into action. The same was true for the Trailblazer Leadership Gold Award for girls aged 15-17.
Under the previous system, Girl Guides who achieved both awards would receive only four graduation credits. Given the difficulty of achieving these awards, Tennart believed Guides deserved more credit. At the “Rally on the Shores” Girl Guides event in Nanaimo, Tennart approached Girl Guides provincial commissioner Diamond Isinger with her “big idea”.
“Kylar came up with the idea and said, ‘I want this change to be made’… I gave her my business card, and I said ‘send me an email with more details’. She emailed immediately after the event that evening. So, I knew she meant business, and she really cared about making this change for other girls,” Isinger said.
Following Tennart’s feedback, Insinger did research on the topic, and found Girl Guides were receiving significantly less credits than organizations that catered to traditionally male audiences, such as Cadets, 4-H, and Scouts — even though their awards require similar learning outcomes, time and effort.
The B.C. Girl Guides then reached out the B.C. Ministry of Education. The ministry was open-minded and collaborated with the Girl Guides on implementing the change. Isinger said that the B.C. Girl Guides have been developing programs that align closely with the new provincial curriculum.
“There’s a lot of focus on personal growth, and having a growth mindset where you’re constantly trying to improve yourself, to discover new things, and challenge yourself. That’s what we’re all about,” Isinger said. “I think it’s terrific. We’re always looking for more attention for the amazing contributions our girls make through the program.”
For Tennart, this development has come as a big surprise. She said she didn’t expect the government to listen to her idea at all.
“I thought that they wouldn’t approve of it,” she said. “I have a lot of emotions right now. It feels good because I know that I’m changing something.”
The change could potentially impact thousands of girls in B.C. as the Girl Guides are seeing increased enrolment across the province.
Currently, the Girl Guides are looking for adult women to volunteer as Guide leaders. Some B.C. communities have large wait lists to join Girl Guides because demand is high, and there is not enough volunteer capacity to meet demand. No experience is required. The Girl Guides will provide training, and have flexible volunteer hours.
“We’re doing a lot of exciting things as an organization,” Isinger said. “There are a lot of communities that are growing in B.C. very quickly. Lots of new families are moving to those communities, and lots of children are being born in those communities… We’re always trying to find those inspiring, amazing women to be those champions.”