Learn how George began advocating for children’s rights at 14 as a student activist in Canada working to support voiceless children (which he calls “a heavenly cause”) to UNICEF’s Global #FightUnfair Children’s Rights Champion Gold Medal Winner — to an Entrepreneur building startups that aim to make a positive impact in the world and how he remains committed to continuing his advocacy for children’s rights.
“This page is in honour of my Mother (Ermioni Kalentzi Stamatis), my Dad (Nick Stamatis), my Sister (Victoria Stamatis) and all my mentors Robert W Hatton, Bruno Mital (Kids Help Phone), Stratton D. Stevens, Senator Marcel Prud’homme, Edgar M Bronfman (Seagram), Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Iakovos of America whom all helped me and gave me priceless advice over the course of my life. Thank You from the bottom of my heart ❤️” – George Stamatis
“Becoming a billionaire is not to make billions of dollars, but to affect the lives of a billion people. That’s my goal!”– George Stamatis
At 14 (1996) George’s English teacher, Linda, asked the class to read a newspaper. George chose “The Gazette” from Montreal and came across an article (“Panel to probe locked doors at youth rehabilitation centre” (November 07, 1996 page A.7) about a unit called “Chapel” at Shawbridge managed by Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, a youth rehabilitation center funded by the Quebec government. The article claimed the unit was more like a jail than a place for helping vulnerable children who had been abused or neglected. As a teenager, this struck a chord with George, who was determined to help these children. He looked up the name of a man mentioned in the article, Robert Hatton, and called him to learn more about the situation. Robert became George’s mentor and a close friend, and together they fought to improve conditions at centers like Shawbridge. They raised their concerns at various government institutions, including the United Nations.
On May 8, 1997, the Quebec Human Rights Commission conducted an investigation into the conditions at the “Chapel” unit at Shawbridge, a youth rehabilitation center in Montreal. The Commission found that the unit violated the rights of the young people in the center’s care and demanded that it be permanently closed within 60 days. The “Chapel” unit was closed a few days later, following the Commission’s order.
“The conclusion conducted showed that the physical layout of the La Chapelle unit had a determining effect on the living conditions of young people by forcing educators to favour safety at the expense of rehabilitation. Thus, the layout of the premises did not allow for easy supervision of the young people by the educators, so much so that during certain activities, they confined teenagers to their rooms for an extended period. The teenagers’ rooms were dilapidated, austere and poorly lit. The screened windows let in little light. In addition, the operating permit determining the number of places in the unit was not respected.” “Confinement to the room, as practiced in this unit as a disciplinary measure, was equivalent to a measure of isolation.”
“The investigation showed that in several respects, the means of intervention put in place by the unit relied more on control and the application of disciplinary measures than on rehabilitation services centered, in a spirit preventive therapy, towards the reintegration of young people. Finally, it emerged that the problems and practices in the unit created psychological pressure on the young people, which was reflected in particular by the fear of reprisals and the inability to challenge disciplinary measures.”
“Following this investigation, the Commission asked for the complete closure of this unit, the end of the application of the program to stop acting for all living units, an in-depth revision of the rules interns listed in the code of life and the disciplinary measures applied by the rehabilitation centre. The unit is now closed, and the establishment has changed the rules for applying the cessation program.”
At 14 (1996). As an advocate for youth, George was invited to participate in a meeting with politicians to encourage more young people to be included at the United Nations General Assembly and its committees, including the Security Council. At the meeting, George successfully convinced various member states of the importance of having more youth representation in their delegations to the UN General Assembly. As a result of George’s efforts, over 30 countries now include youth delegates as part of their official delegations to the UN General Assembly, with numbers steadily increasing.
At 15, (1997 til 2003) George was hired by his late mentor, Robert Hatton, as an independent contractor to do research on cases of child abuse and violations of children’s rights in Quebec.
In February 2000, George submitted a report on this issue to Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard and Health Minister Pauline Marois.
At 16 (1998) George founded “Conseil politique en aide de la jeunesse du Canada” (Political Council to Help Canadian Youth), a movement to advocate for the rights of children in Canada. In 2000, the movement merged with the Canadian Youth Rights Association (CYRA) led by George’s late friend Joshua Gilbert in Nepean, Ontario. However, the CYRA was later closed following Joshua’s death in 2001.
At 16 (January 1998) During the 1998 North American Ice Storm that affected parts of Quebec, George was asked to help organize assistance for families and children at the Complex Claude Robillard. He rallied a group of people to support those in need and provide some relief during a high-stress situation.
George’s efforts were recognized by the City of Montreal, which honored him with a certificate thanking him for his “precious collaboration” and for helping “warm the hearts of citizens in need.”
At 16 (1998) George strongly advocated for the United States to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, bringing the issue to the attention of the US government under President Bill Clinton.
In Canada, he also advocated for the proper implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by incorporating it into the Canadian Constitution.
In addition, George strongly supported the creation of a Children’s Commissioner for Canada, raising the issue with politicians including Senators Landon Pearson, Marcel Prud’homme, and Lucie Pépin, Minister Allan Rock, and Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
In March 2000, Canadian Minister of Health Allan Rock wrote (letter) to George in response to his request for an independent federal Commissioner for Canada’s Children.
At 17 (July 1999) George was selected by the One Day Foundation to attend the “United Youth Conference” in Sedona, Arizona as a youth representative from Canada. At the conference, he and 19 other leading youth activists from 12 countries co-founded the Global Youth Assembly and Network, which later became the Global Youth Action Network (GYAN). In 2000, GYAN opened a headquarters office in New York City, near the United Nations and George was nominated as the Canadian Youth Ambassador for GYAN. He led the organization’s efforts in Canada until 2005.
In 2001, GYAN merged its online community and databases with TakingITGlobal, which has become the most active site on the internet for young social leaders. TakingITGlobal contains a comprehensive database of youth organizations, events, and more, with over 200,000 members in 200+ countries and territories. GYAN also helped launch and coordinate Global Youth Service Day with Youth Service America, which has brought together over 40 million people in thousands of communities worldwide, in over 100 countries in every region of the world. For more information about GYAN, visit https://gyan.tigweb.org/
At 21 (Sept 2003), George was selected as the Youth Affairs Representative and Public Relations Director of the International Bureau for Children’s Rights (IBCR), a United Nations Status INGO. He was later appointed as Vice-President (Nov 2007), becoming the youngest person to hold that position at the IBCR.
As part of his role at the IBCR, George worked to raise funds, engage with government officials, and promote the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to governments around the world. He also lobbied the US government for its ratification of the CRC. In 2009, he participated in a historic international meeting in Egypt, hosted by Moushira Khattab (Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2002-2010 and Minister of Family & Population of Egypt), where Muslim countries adopted human rights approaches within the Organization of Islamic States in Islamic Sharia Law, including provisions for the rights of women and children.
FYI: The USA is the only United Nations country that hasn’t ratified the CRC which is the most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty in history adopted by the UN in 1989 and now ratified by 193 countries.). Learn more about this issue here & here
At 23 (May-June 2005) George spent two and a half years advocating to the City of Montreal officials, including Peter B Yeomans, the Chairman of the Public Security Commission, to have the websites of the Montreal Police Department and the Montreal Fire Department translated into English. As a result of George’s efforts, both websites were fully translated into English in 2006.
Read Peter B Yeomans letter to George confirming his request.
At 24 (Oct-2005 to Feb 2006) George was at the forefront of efforts to address the issue of child abuse in Quebec’s youth protection centers. In October 2005, media coverage brought attention to the problem, and in February 2006, George presented a proposal to the National Assembly of Quebec to modify the Youth Protection Act (Bill 125) to better protect the rights of young people and establish strict controls on the use of “secure custody” in these centers. His efforts were successful and the changes he proposed are now law.
Read the Brief (in french)
At 24 (September 2006), In the aftermath of the shooting at Dawson College in Montreal on September 13, 2006, the Dawson student community reached out to George for his expertise in working with youth, community, and government officials to coordinate an emergency Crisis Center on behalf of the Dawson Student Union and Concordia Student Union. George quickly assembled a team of 26 people from both schools to provide support and relief efforts. Within 30 minutes of the shooting, they established a temporary crisis center at Concordia University (5 minutes from Dawson College), which offered food, blankets, and transportation for students to return home. The team also set up a special unique telephone line in collaboration with Kids Help Phone (A BIG Thanks to his late friend & mentor Bruno Mital) to provide counseling for students and young people affected by the tragedy, and a counseling service (psychologist and psychiatrist on-site for 3 weeks) for students, staff, families, and others directly impacted by the shooting. George also arranged transportation for attendees to the funeral of shooting victim Anastasia DeSousa, who lost her life at the age of 18.
(In honour of his work, George was honoured by the City of Montreal, Public Security President Claude Dauphin, Montreal’s Chief of Police Yvan Delorme and Dawson College Director-General Richard Fillion and the Dawson Community).
In English, the certificate says:
“On behalf of municipal authorities and on behalf of all citizens of Montreal, we sincerely thank you and acknowledge your exceptional contribution during the events at Dawson College on September 13, 2006.
“Thanks to the courage, tenacity, the insight and to the altruism that you have proved during your intervention to the citizens affected by the events, you have confirmed that our city included first responders unusual and that inspires confidence.”
“The public safety commission recognizes your professionalism and your rigour that make you a dominant player and well known throughout the territory and City of Montreal.”
George successfully mobilized a coalition of community members, city officials, police federations, and student organizations to oppose Bill C-301, a proposal that would have dismantled gun control in Canada. Through his efforts, the bill did not become law.
Read the letter to federal opposition parties (co-signed by many) (in french)
Read letters from NDP Leader Jack Layton, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and also from the Bloc Quebecois.
At 25 (March 2007) George was honored to be selected as the Grand Marshal of the Hellenic Community of Montreal’s Greek Independence Day Parade.
George was recognized for his dedication in advocating for children’s rights, his contributions to the community, and his efforts in coordinating counseling services for students affected by the Dawson College shooting in 2006. George became the youngest person to ever hold this honor and lead the parade, which celebrates the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman , which ultimately led to the formation of modern Greece.
At 27 (June/July 2009) George was involved in creating the draft of BILL C-418 in the Canadian House of Commons, presented by Member of Parliament Marc Garneau. The bill aimed to establish a Children’s Commissioner for Canada, an independent official to ensure government accountability regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. George had been advocating for the creation of a Children’s Commissioner in Canada since 1998, and was invited by Mr. Garneau to witness the bill’s presentation in Parliament.
Press Release: (in English)
At 29 (October 16, 2011) George joined Jean Béliveau for the final stretch of his 11-year walk through five continents and 65 countries to promote peace and raise awareness about children experiencing violence. Over the course of the walk, Béliveau covered a distance of 75,000 km.
Learn more about Jean here: https://wwwalk.org
15 Years Anniversary for Children’s Rights Activism & Advocacy
In response to the tragedy,
George and two others organized a vigil through social media to honor the man who was killed. The vigil, which took place in front of the Métropolis (performing arts centre), was attended by hundreds of people. In his speech at the event, George aimed to reduce tensions between the French and English communities and bring people together in the wake of the province’s language debate.
At 30 (Dec 2012) George and his business partner founded Trendr, a company that seeked to improve communication and collaboration among professionals by encouraging face-to-face meetings and conversations using technology and social media.
Trendr was recognized as the Official Networking App for various worldwide events, including the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the International Just for Laughs Festival/Comedy Pro, Real-Time Marketing, and many more.
In 2012, Forbes featured Trendr as a “sweetheart of business networking opportunities,” and in 2013, Virgin/Richard Branson highlighted the company. In 2015, the Intelligence Community selected Trendr as one of the top 100 most innovative companies in the world.
At 30 (February 2013) George was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his contributions to Canada and his 15 years of work in children’s rights. The award was presented to him by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Honourable Pierre Duchesne, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. George was honored to receive this prestigious award for his selfless dedication to the citizens of Canada.
The accompanying certificate, signed by the Governor-General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Lloyd Johnston, stated the following:
“By Command of her Majesty The Queen, the Diamond Jubilee Medal is presented to you in commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of Her Majesty’s Accession to the Throne and in recognition of your contributions to Canada.”
At 31 (August 21, 2013) George worked to bring attention to the case of a 15-year-old rape survivor who had been sentenced by the Maldives Court to 100 public lashes for “sex outside marriage.” He used social media and an online petition campaign, which was shared 87,000 times and signed by 2.1 million people, to bring international pressure on the court. As a result, the flogging sentence was overturned.
At 33 (August 2015) George was a member of the host committee that helped bring the 2017 Vanguard Conference to Montreal. The conference, which took place from May 31 to June 3, 2017, brought together 45 young urban thought leaders to address urban challenges and celebrate Montreal’s 375th and Canada’s 150th anniversaries.
During the conference, George served as a judge for the Big Idea Challenge, which awarded a $7,000 grant to a local community organization. Thanks to a private donor, additional grants of $5,000 were given to two other organizations as well. The conference brought over $1,000,000 worth of expertise and knowledge to Montreal, and was a first for both the city and the country.
Press Release in PDF (in english)
At 33 (Dec 2015) George received the UNICEF Global #FightUnfair Champion Gold Medal in recognition of his longstanding commitment and leadership to advocating for the rights of children and speaking up for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among them. Since the age of 14, George has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and hold governments accountable for ensuring a better future for all children, in accordance with the principles set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). He considers this work to be a “heavenly cause” and is honored and humbled to have received the award from UNICEF.
“This award is not just for me. It goes to all the children out there that we all activists and humanitarians fight for. It goes to all activists and humanitarians that have dedicated their lives to a heavenly cause to fight for the rights of the children. You are all here with me today. It is for those vulnerable and voiceless children who want change. To the children of the world: I will continue speaking and defend you until my last breath on this planet.“ – George Stamatis.
At 35 (April 2017), George was honored to be invited by the Canadian government to sit with Canada’s Members of Parliament and listen to fellow children’s rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai deliver her speech to the Parliament of Canada.
George’s statement in response to Malala’s speech: “Malala is a brave, inspiring woman and powerful voice for justice. She’s proof that no one is never too young to lead. She reminds us that when our leaders fail to lead, people must. Malala is such a beautiful soul, an inspiration for all humanity” “Thank YOU PM Justin Trudeau for awarding honorary Canadian citizenship to Malala. One of the Most Inspiring Moments in Canada” & “Malala, Thank You for using your strong voice for girls all over the world!! As you said: “The world needs leadership based on serving humanity”
at 37 (September 20, 2019) George was invited to take part at the High-Level Commemorative Event of the “30th Anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child” at the United Nations General Assembly.
At 37 (September 27, 2019), George joined the 500,000 person march in Montreal, organized by Greta Thunberg, calling for immediate action on climate change. The global climate strike was a significant moment in the fight against climate change, with people all over the world taking part in demonstrations. George participated in the Montreal event, joining the calls for leaders to take action to address the urgent issue of climate change.