Coloring Inside the Lines on our Journey to Peace

As someone who has lived in Canada for my whole life, I have never known real hardship or feared for my life. When I see images of Syrian refugees fleeing their homes, with nothing but the clothes on their backs – it is hard to comprehend how terrifying that must be. In friendship I wanted to contribute a picture for the coloring book.

–Brian Hindle, contributing artist to Coloring Peace in Calgary.

Nine artists at Hillhurst United Church, initiated a coloring book project as a way to welcome Syrian refuges and celebrate peace in our city. The group, GratARTude, brainstormed peaceful places in Calgary and put out the call to other amateur and professional artists to donate an image. The youngest artist is 7 years old and the oldest is 80.

Carolyn Pogue, co-ordinator of Coloring Peace in Calgary, states she was delighted but not surprised by the generous response of local artists with drawings. As she says, “We are a welcoming city.”

In the spirit of supporting our journey, as a city, into deeper peace there is recognition that Calgary is on Treaty Seven Land. As a line from the Magpie Song, created specifically for this project, states, “From far and wide the folks still come to Treaty Seven Land, to make a peaceful home right here where neighbors lend a hand.” The title of the coloring book and the captions under each drawing are in Arabic, English and Blackfoot.

Marion Jorgensen (from Women in Black), Karen Huggins (from Project Ploughshares), singers Chantal Stormson and Cheryl Chagnon Greyeyes, artist Zarina Boga and co-ordinator Carolyn Pogue. unknown photographer

The launch of the book was marked last Sunday with a Peace Party hosted by Reverend Danielle Ayana James. It included a performance of the Magpie Song by Hillhurst United Church Children’s Choir, drumming by Cheryl Chagnon Greyeyes and Chantal Stormstong Chagnon, greetings from Imam Syed Soharwardy of Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, a bagpipe performance by Andrew Yates topped off with peace cookies and lemonade.

Carolyn’s hope is that Calgary – refugee sponsors, faith communities, teachers, neighbours, longtime or new Canadians will use this coloring book to welcome children and adults newly arrived from a journey, as Brian says, we can not comprehend.

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She hopes the book will invite our new neighbours into some of the ways Canadians know and experience peace in Calgary; from climbing into the wide expanses of sky at Nose Hill Park to noticing the golden reflections in Glenmore reservoir; from riding trains at Heritage Park to skating at Olympic Plaza.

Coloring books can be purchased for $10.00 from Sunnyside Art Supplies in Kensington or St. Andrew’s Centre on Southport Road. Newcomers can receive free colouring books and donated crayons through Bow Valley College and The Syrian Refugee Network. For more information, contact Carolyn Pogue at cpogue@shaw.ca

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