Leading Quebec sociologist Manny Batshaw dies at 101
Manuel “Manny” Batshaw, well-known Quebec social worker and namesake of Batshaw Youth and Family Services, has passed away at the age of 101.
During the century that he was alive, Batshaw was at the forefront action, witnessing and being part of major societal upheavals.
The one closest to his heart: the rights of children in Quebec.
“I was interested in children with problems,” Batshaw told Global News in 2015.
“That’s how I got involved — grateful I had that opportunity.”
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Batshaw was considered a visionary, fighting for children’s rights and demanding society pay attention.
“If you watch Manny Batshaw talking with children, he talks with the child, not to the child,” said Judy Martin, past president of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres’ board of directors and current board member of the CIUSSS de l’Òuest de-l’Île-de-Montréal.
“He listens, he’s a very, very good listener. It is special because there are not too many like him.”
In 1974, after news broke of the deplorable living conditions and treatment of children who were wards of the state, Batshaw stepped in and headed a committee that would revolutionize the way Quebec treated children in its care.
“When I presented the report, I found myself raising my voice, describing a society where children didn’t have rights and where treatment of children was on a rather elementary basis,” Batshaw said in 2009.
“We were neglecting our society.”
Under his leadership, the committee’s report paved the way for major restructuring of services, increasing training for volunteers who work with children and introducing the Youth Protection Act.
“We outlined 18 rights that children deserved and ought to have and developed 12 principals that grow out of these rights,” he said in 2009.
“I’m happy to suggest these rights are being recognized.”
His son, Mark Batshaw, is now the head of the Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.
He grew up watching his father lead by example and said he owes all his success to his Dad.
“If everyone in Montreal, in Canada, in the world, just took one thing they wanted to fix and did it, we would have a much better world,” Mark Batshaw said.
“That’s what my father was always about.”
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Over the years, Batshaw was honoured with numerous tributes and awards, including the Order of Quebec, as well as the Order of Canada, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Law by McGill University.
“It was magic to witness his interactions with, and love for, our kids, striking to watch their eyes light up when they realize there really was a Mr. Batshaw and endearing to witness their first meetings with him,” said Martin.
“He acted as their voice, even in the face of adversity. This man had the courage and strength to ensure children’s needs were met, rights were respected and that child welfare work included both parents and families.”
A funeral service will be on Wednesday, July 20 at 11 a.m. at Paperman in Montreal.
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