HIPPY Canada Conference: “Mothers as a Catalyst of Change”
The Mothers as a Catalyst of Change: Inspiration from around the World conference will take place November 25, 26 & 27 at the SFU downtown campus in Vancouver. Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-school Youngsters Canada (HIPPY) is celebrating 15 years of working with families in the home to support parents in their critical role as the child’s first and most important teachers.
Sally Armstrong is a three-time Amnesty International award winner, author of Ascent of Women and was a member of the International Women’s Commission at the UN. She is the recipient of seven honorary doctorate degrees and is a Member of the Order of Canada. Armstrong has covered stories in zones of conflict all over the world; from Bosnia and Somalia to Rwanda and Afghanistan, her eyewitness reports have earned her awards, including the Gold Award from the National Magazine Awards foundation. Her presentation on “Ascent of Women” will look at the key role women are playing, from Africa to the Americas, in taking action to end poverty, violence and conflict.
One of the founding journalists for Canadian Living magazine, Sally became editor-in-chief of Homemaker’s in 1988, a position she held for 11 years. “We were basically breaking all the rules,” she said in an interview with Aya Tsintziras for the Ryerson Review of Journalism in April, 2014. “We were a subversive little magazine that served up lasagna on one page and tried to change the world on the next.”
Her investigative writing on international women’s issues began with an article she wrote profiling the work of Sister Theresa Hicks, a lay sister from British Columbia who was attempting to improve the health of impoverished people in Monrovia, Liberia. The Ryerson article points out that, “Her long career is marked by some of the most significant stories in Canadian women’s magazines. At Homemaker’s, standouts included pieces on international relief to Somalia and a story about two teenage prostitutes, one a 15-year-old from Toronto and the other a 13-year-old from Bangladesh. For Chatelaine, she looked at the polygamist community in Bountiful, B.C., and explored one family’s grief over losing a daughter to serial killer Robert Pickton. She turned her years of reporting on women in Afghanistan into the 2002 book Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan and followed up with 2008’s Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan’s Women. …This CV has been built on two important traits: her extensive contacts around the world and her tireless willingness to fight for every piece.”
Adrián Cerezo, Associate Director of the Department of Research for Conservation at the St. Louis Zoo, has served as a consultant for governments as well as multiple environmental and educational organizations. He holds a M.E.Sc. in Social Ecology and a B.A. in Psychology. Adrián is a Fellow at Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy – Knowledge Center for the South-East Asia Region; and Education Fellow at the Conservation Research Center of the Smithsonian Institution. His Ph.D. research at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies focused on the fundamental importance of early childcare and development in the process of human development, and at present he provides technical advice on early child care and development to the Children and Nature Network. He will talk about how the future of the world can be improved through bettering the way we treat babies and the environment that surrounds them.
Dr. Cerezo is part of the UNICEF Early Childhood Peace Consortium. The concept of the consortium is outlined as follows:
“Increased conflict and the lasting negative impact of violence on children, families and communities is a matter of grave concern around the world. Approaches to prevent violence and maximize justice, equality, and harmony are important for building peace. Promoting peace is not a new enterprise with several organizations and alliances working hard to address the great risk of violence and conflict to individuals and society. The proposed consortium presents an innovative approach to promoting and maintaining peaceful societies through the transformative power of early childhood. Evidence supports the claim that the formative years of life and intra- and inter-family and community relationships are powerful agents of change that can promote resilience, social cohesion and peace.
A growing body of knowledge suggests that the neurobiology of our early life bonds (e.g., parents and children) can have an impact on our physiology in ways that influences peace building. For example, and with particular reference to the proposed consortium, two neuropeptides, oxytocin and vasopressin, appear to be key elements in the neurobiology of affiliation. This complex bio-behavioral system is developmentally sensitive indicating that the earliest years of life are when we make the largest strides in holistic development. From a socio-ecological perspective, early interventions with parents and young children contribute to harmonious relationships, pro-social behaviors and resilience. Furthermore, recent evidence implies that when parents come together in groups as part of parenting programs, these groups have a transformative influence on building socially cohesive communities.”
UNICEF has produced a guidance document, Peace Building Through Early Childhood Development, for use by international peace building initiatives:
This guidance document, to which Dr. Cerezo was a contributor, stresses that:
- ECD is a critical period of development. “Children as young as 2 years old can demonstrate stigma. Thus, attempts to change violent and discriminatory attitudes need to begin as young as possible. The early years provide a window of opportunity for shaping behaviours and attitudes.
- “Among communities, ECD programs can help create a shared vision for the future that focuses on children. It allows for collaboration, deliberation and the development of social networks across different groups, thereby promoting social cohesion.”
- “ECD programs support caregivers as well…Leaving caregivers out of the equation can result in psychosocial distress, isolation, and marginalization, which are all drivers of violence.”
- “There is strong evidence that the long-term returns to investing in ECD are high. Quality ECD environments enable young children to be better prepared for school and the labor market, thereby providing more equitable access to resources to previously marginalized groups. Inequality is a key driver of conflict.”