UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Celebrate Peace Day by creating your own colouring book

Pictures open the doors to understanding whenever there’s a language barrier

By Carolyn Pogue


To celebrate the UN’s International Day of Peace this year, we're throwing a party and launching an all-ages colouring book in Calgary. "Colouring Peace in Calgary" is a welcoming gift for Syrian newcomers. It features city landmarks and natural areas, with captions in Blackfoot, Arabic and English. Blackfoot is the language of the Treaty Seven peoples. In all, 30 Calgary artists donated their drawings.

Conceived by a small art group at Calgary’s Hillhurst United Church, the book will offer people a quiet place to add their own colour to the city. Because the Blackfoot language is introduced, newcomers are helped to understand that they have arrived in Treaty Seven territory — a fact many previous settlers didnʼt recognize.

Artists happily answered the call for submissions, Mayor Nenshi wrote an enthusiastic endorsement, Imam Mohamed Mahmoud, Elders Randy Bottle and Anita Eaglebear generously provided translations; composer Ruth Lomenda, arranger Nancy Chegus and I created a song. With hundreds of bookstores spread across the country, featuring computer-generated colouring books of every description, this one — drawn by the willing hands of professionals and amateurs, children and adults — offers something quite different. It was a joy for me to coordinate.

"Colouring Peace in Calgary," a colouring book, features The Calgary Peace Bridge. Art by Donna Symanczyk

Although we're launching the book to celebrate the International Day of Peace, the party — for me — began in June when the first drawing arrived in the mail; it continued on through the other contributions and the enthusiastic comments made by people when they heard about the concept.

The idea for our book was sparked by artists in Ontario who produced Arabic-English colouring books for Syrian newcomers to Toronto and Windsor, Ont. The project was inspired by unique peace landmarks in Calgary: The Peace Bridge, The Peace Park and The Peace Pole. We hope that along with the many spectacular natural areas featured, these landmarks will offer newcomers tranquility, and we hope that they’ll feel happy to add their own colour and creativity to our city. Working with contributors was fun; each one provided an artist's statement, which were printed in the colouring book, too.

Urszula Ciechanska, who drew a Blackfoot dancer at the Stampede, wrote: “As an elementary school teacher, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of new immigrant children, including Syrian refugees. I have found that images are one of the best tools for communication. Pictures are a universal language and serve to open the doors to understanding when there is a language barrier.” Poppy Gardiner Hadford, who is seven years old, hopes that “colouring her picture might help others feel more at peace like she does when she draws.”

I didn’t meet with Mohamed Mahmoud directly; we relied on a mutual friend to connect us through email for the Arabic translation. But I sat with Anita Eaglebear and Randy Bottle when they looked at the list of English words for translation into Blackfoot. It was enlightening to hear their discussion. What was behind my notion of “peace?” they asked. Did I mean personal or national peace? And after deliberating over the word “park,” they arrived at “a place for you to rest.” I loved how that one simple word was translated as an invitation. Listening to their questions, I saw how my own language is blunt — and sometimes not very pretty!

But the colouring book is very pretty. You might like to create one where you live. Blessings on your own celebration of Peace Day.



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!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

The test of a lifetime

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Dearest Ones

by Observer Staff

Geneticist, activist and broadcaster David Suzuki offers words of wisdom to his grandchildren — and younger generations

Promotional Image

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

World

February 2017

Many faces, one humanity

by Wade Davis

The words and photographs of the Canadian author and explorer capture the richness — and fragility — of global cultures and rituals

Faith

January 2017

Presbytery turns down bid to halt Vosper hearing

by Mike Milne

World

February 2017

Many faces, one humanity

by Wade Davis

The words and photographs of the Canadian author and explorer capture the richness — and fragility — of global cultures and rituals

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Faith

March 2016

The Walrus Talks Spirituality

by Observer Staff

Promotional Image