The Les Horne 'Rights in Action' Award for Youth

About Les Horne

Les Horne was a founding member of Defence for Children International-Canada and served as our volunteer Executive Director. As Ontario’s first Child Advocate Les had a long history of dealing with some of the most challenging children in the province. When the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations, Les was there as one of the champions of the Convention. Les dedicated his life to furthering the rights of children and to ensuring their voices were heard. After his death in 2011, to honour his memory, the Les Horne “Rights in Action” Award was created to encourage young people to establish their own projects to support the rights of children

About Les Horne "Rights in Action" Award:

  • The Les Horne Rights in action award is an award presented by DCI-Canada to honour the late Les Horne, Ontario’s first Child Advocate and a strong supporter of children’s rights in Canada and across the world.
  • The award was created in 2014 and has been running since.
  • The award is given to youth who have project proposals that will further the rights of children as outlined in one or more of the articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • The best proposal receives recognition on DCI Canada`s web site and an amount of up to $1000 to make it happen.

This year’s proposals are to be submitted by March 31th, 2023.

Award Details

Who can apply?
Any young person or group of young people may apply. The term “young person” is somewhat flexible and could apply to anyone up to age 25.

What do I have to do to apply?
Write up your idea and explain how it is related and helps improve/address child rights on no more than three pages (or provide a brief video).

When do I need to send in my proposal?
Proposals are to be received by March 31th, 2023.

Where do I send my proposed idea?
E-mail it to We will send you back an e-mail saying we have received it.

If you do not have access to e-mail you may send your idea by mail to Defence for Children International Canada at 20 Spadina Rd., 3rd floor, Toronto Ontario M5R 2S7. Attention: Agnes Samler. Please include your contact information.

Note: We will contact you using the information you have provided when we receive your submission.

Who decides on the best proposal?
All proposals will be reviewed by a panel of young people who will recommend the best proposal to the DCI Canada Board of Directors.

How will I be notified with results?
The recipient of the award will be contacted and the name (s) of the 2019 award recipient (s) will be posted on the DCI Canada website.

I still have questions, who can I contact?
You can leave a message with your name and your phone number at 416-907-7432. You may also e-mail or use the mailing address above.

Our Previous Winners

Domino Fx project receives the first Les Horne “Rights in Action” award.

A diverse group of youth from Georges Vanier Secondary School put together the winning proposal that earned them the first “Rights in Action” Award. Students from Ryerson University reviewed all of the proposals before recommending Domino Fx for the award. The reviewers were particularly impressed with the work already accomplished by the group. Their successful initiatives included a full week of Mental Health Awareness events , a girl’s empowerment Summit, an Anti-Victim Blaming Campaign and a boy’s Summit aimed at challenging gender stereotypes.

Many of the Georges Vanier group also participated in the Gay-Straight Alliance meetings at the school.

Building on these successes the group wanted to expand their work into the community. The proposal, Domino Fx, was to host a series of focus groups in the community to engage others outside of the school setting and to build a data base of information about the priorities and concerns of youth in the neighbourhood. Work had also been underway for several months to develop a community based thrift shop which would help provide funding for some of the community initiatives identified in the focus groups. The shop could also serve for the development of youth skills and provide some youth employment. A worthy proposal for the first “Rights in Action” Award!

Northern Starfish project proposal wins the second Les Horne “Rights in Action” Award

When Wes Prankard first learned about the conditions in Attawapiskat, he was touched by the fact that other kids in Canada did not have enough food, lived in crowded, inadequate houses and attended school in cold, mouldy portables. Some might have been overcome with a feeling of hopelessness but for Wes it was a challenge that became a driving force in his life

Although only a young boy, he decided to take action, raising funds, gathering food and clothing, and even found a way to visit Attawapiskat. It was then he discovered that children had no safe place to play, and by age 12 he had formed a project called Northern Starfish, raising sufficient money to build a playground in Attawapiskat. This was just a beginning of his mission to build playgrounds in remote First Nations communities. Wes has continued this work involving other young people over a number of years. His proposal for the use of the “Rights in Action” Award funds was to begin matching young people in Northern communities with groups of youth from the South. In this way the work could be expanded and young people could support and learn from each other.

The proposals for this Award were reviewed by the Canadian Students Association for Children’s Rights-Ryerson branch and the group selected the Northern Starfish proposal for this Award. A great choice.