UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Members of the Paper Doll Project of the Child Wellbeing Initiative rally outside the Alberta legislature.

Paper vigil

Tackling poverty with friends

By Carolyn Pogue

When I was small, I had imaginary friends: Mrs. Buckets and Mrs. Peabody, two dear old ladies. (Old then; likely my age now.) My grandniece, five years old, also has an imaginary friend, a man. She says her friend Coco is “as old as pine cones.”

I wonder if imaginary friends are actually guardian angels. I’ve met a woman who was abused as a child and imagined a beautiful Chinese lady who gave her comfort. In adulthood, the woman was startled to see a statue of that same lady on a visit to Chinatown. The lady was the ancient goddess Kwan Yin, known as a protector of children.

Violet Flowers is another imaginary friend. She appeared to me when I was working at the Canmore Leader newspaper in the Rocky Mountains. As a fiction writer, I live with imaginary people often. They’ve inhabited the present, biblical times, and in the case of my novels, the 1890s. I dwell with them for weeks, months or however long it takes to finish the work. But Violet Flowers keeps coming back. Violet penned an opinion column in the late 1980s, then retired to Gopher Gulch. She was hauled out of retirement in 1999 by her editor, Willard T., to write about travelling with the moderator of the United Church, Bill Phipps. In 2000, she retired again. Now she’s back.

I had planned this blog to be about remembering the Montreal massacre. I wanted to write about the need to stay vigilant about violence in Canada, and how guns, war toys and violent video games alarm me. But Violet said, “Poverty is violence, too.” Violet’s motto, like peace activist Kay Macpherson’s, is “When in doubt, do both.” Of course.

I have written here about the Paper Doll Project of the Child Wellbeing Initiative, started by Alberta women of the United Church. The goal of the project was to raise awareness about child poverty, and we wanted to cut one paper doll for each of the 70,000-plus impoverished Alberta children. (We received more than 100,000 dolls.) The project connected us with others concerned about child poverty, including the Canadian Federation of University Women, teachers and Girl Guides.

On Nov. 20, we took the paper dolls to the Alberta legislature to show our leaders what that number looks like. We rallied on the legislature steps and spoke at two press conferences. And we learned that the number of children in poverty in Alberta is now 91,000.

Liberal and NDP members of the legislative assembly addressed us, and Human Services Minister Dave Hancock invited us into his office to talk about our concerns. We were introduced in the house. Our hope is that people will continue to work with us to raise the alarm about this unnecessary tragedy. Violet Flowers has weighed in with her report on YouTube.



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..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Environment

Song leader, police and gate blockers in front of the Kinder Morgan gates. Photo by Kimiko Karpoff

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

A faith leader reflects on protesting the pipeline with the Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation.

Promotional Image

Editorials

The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. Photo: Lindsay Palmer

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Society

June 2018

Why some women of colour are hesitant to say #MeToo

by Jacky Habib

Three women share their stories in the hope of creating safe spaces they never had.

Environment

May 2018

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

On April 28, 2018, faith leaders from many traditions, including the United Church, stood in solidarity with Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C.. Kimiko Karpoff captured the day in pictures.

Faith

June 2018

After 93 years, this will be the United Church's last General Council meeting

by Mike Milne

When the United Church meets in July, top priorities will be a streamlined governance structure and Indigenous ministries.

Justice

June 2018

#MeToo in the United Church

by Trisha Elliott

9 women share their stories of harassment and sexual assault in the United Church.

Columns

May 2018

On grief and the healing power of gardening

by Paul Fraumeni

A writer reflects on how growing tomatoes is helping him find peace while dealing with the loss of loved ones, including his son.

Editorials

June 2018

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image