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Baby steps

Honouring children in Calgary

By Carolyn Pogue

It was a baby step. We don’t know yet if it will gain stability or speed. But the stakes are high, so we set out. For four evenings in Lent, a dozen Anglican and United Church people met at Knox United in downtown Calgary to talk about change.

We discussed the book Child Honouring: How to Turn This World Around, edited by Raffi Cavoukian and Sharna Olfman. It’s the kind you can cherry pick, choosing from chapters written by people like author Barbara Kingsolver, humanitarian Graca Machel of South Africa and former cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy. We all zeroed in on different ones but were united in wanting to change the world for kids.

It was clear at the start that people feel discouraged by the lack of attention given to issues affecting children. And truly, all issues affect children. When our society does notice kids, the focus is often on what to sell them, rather than how to nourish them. We discussed our own feelings about being disrespected in childhood and how fiercely we want to protect our children and grandchildren from that. Child Honouring extends this aim to every child.

By the end of the four sessions, we had a few ideas to begin planting Child Honouring in our congregations. For example, we wondered if there would be interest in alternative parenting workshops, rather like the Unplug the Christmas Machine workshops that churches sometimes offer during Advent.

Very Rev. Bill Phipps said he’d like meetings of the church Board to have one person designated to the task of listening as, and speaking for, a child and another person designated to the task of listening as, and speaking for, Mother Earth. That way, each decision could be looked at in a holistic way.

Rev. Drew Strickland is working on church words. “Our language is very ‘adultist,’” he said. His church is also under renovation to ensure that youth have meeting rooms as beautiful as the ones that adults use.

One thing that captured my imagination was a discussion about church seasons. We celebrate the seasons of Advent, Lent, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. Why not create a month-long season to honour children? How would that change us?

Doreen Orman, whose passion for children initiated our meetings, spoke of a huge fair in Calgary that attracts 5,000 parents looking for the very best products for their babies and kids. “What if we had a booth to talk about Child Honouring?” she asked.

We talked about the upcoming election in Alberta. My dream is to have voters ask candidates how they intend to honour children in our province, especially the 70,000 living in poverty.

Rev. Sheena Trotter-Denis said, “This book study attracted a wide range of people; moms and grandmothers, nurses and youth workers, people in their 20s and their 70s — everyone united under the cause of creating change in the world so that all children are truly honoured.”

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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