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Weekly Pause &  Ponder

Never was so much owed by so many to so few.

- Winston Churchill.   


The Poppy  Man

Every fall during my elementary school years when WW II was only a decade past, into our one-room school limped Mr. Butson, the poppy man. Dressed in his navy blazer adorned with medaled ribbons, gray pants and a veteran’s tam, he arrived bearing bright red poppies for us to wear and sell.  Although he seemed old to me, he was probably in his late fifties or early sixties.

Throughout my years at school (SSS#4 Hibbert), Mr. Butson’s annual visit left a deep impression on me. His dedication to the poppy drive piqued my interest in the war, veterans and Remembrance Day.  He was interested in our education and to this point, he avidly promoted our participation in the Royal Canadian Legion Public Speaking Contest. Through this initiative and the work of our dedicated teacher, Mrs. Melady, many of us students benefitted by learning the rudiments of elocution and participated in annual speaking contests at the township, county and provincial levels.  Mr. Butson attended every event, smiling from the sidelines at our diligence and progress.

Right to the present time, every Remembrance Day, my thoughts roll back to Mr. Butson.  He taught eager groups of students through both his words and his memorable presence about valor, sacrifice and love of country.  Thanks to him, I can recite with nostalgia Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields.”  How could I ever forget the fallen soldiers’ plea, “If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.”

Thank you, Mr. Butson.  We won’t ever forget.  - Sr. Jean Moylan, csj


Decorated Nurse Part of St. Joseph’s Storied Nursing  Past

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph Archives and St. Joseph’s Hospital cooperated on making an exhibit that was on display at the Ontario Legislature for several months. In the process of selecting photographs for the exhibit, our Congregational Archivist came across an interesting photograph, showing Helen Woolson, a graduate of the St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, receiving an award from the future King Edward VIII. If you recall, he is the King who gave up his throne for the woman he loved. This photograph fascinated Noelle Tangredi, who heads the hospital historical committee, and so she researched Helen Woolson’s life, by visiting Western University archives, who hold the records of her life.

To learn more about Helen Woolson and the St. Joseph’s School of Nursing, please visit this link:


- Mary Kosta, Congregational Archivist, Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

  • "The challenge of the saints of the twenty-first century is to begin again to comprehend the sacred in the ten thousand things in our world; to reverence what we have come to view as ordinary and devoid of spirit." — Edward Hays in   Secular Sanctity

Putting the Focus on Girls’  Education

Here in Canada, our rituals around school and education touch each and every one of us – from sending our children to school, to memories of our own school days. It is such a commonplace routine in our lives that sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to live in a country where education is available to all.

Even though more children go to school now than ever before in human history, we still have a ways to go before every child is enrolled in school. UNICEF and our partners are working hard to reach the day when there will be quality education available and accessible for every child.

In particular UNICEF is working with families, communities, governments and NGOs to empower adolescent girls and help them navigate the myriad of challenges they encounter. In many countries, but especially those in crisis, girls are less likely to be enrolled in school, as they are often kept at home to assist their families or entered into arranged marriages from a young age.

Providing girls with an education helps break the cycle of poverty: educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and more likely to send their children to school.

When I was recently in Bangladesh visiting camps of Rohingya refugees who had fled violence in Myanmar, I met some of these girls that UNICEF is working to reach.








© UNICEF/UN0158183/Sujan

Even though the illiteracy rate amongst adult Rohingya refugees hovers around 50%, they want their children to go to school.  Perhaps as farmers the need for literacy was less important, but since they do not want to return to Myanmar, they know their children will need to be literate. UNICEF now offers classes to almost 90,000 primary school age children in these Temporary Learning Centres and partners have space for 40,000 more. 

The centres I saw were well designed.  They may not be very spacious, but they aren’t overcrowded – there are about 30 children per class, the same as some classes in Canada.  The younger children have play stations like kindergartens do in Canada, and UNICEF works to emphasize the importance of play as well as learning numbers and letters. 

Nevertheless the children worked hard to teach me to count to ten in their language, but by the time I mastered 8, 9, 10, I had forgotten how to say 1, 2, 3.  I may not have been a good student, but at least my inability to speak was entertaining for the kids.

The work UNICEF is doing in Bangladesh to provide education to the most vulnerable children is the same work that’s being done by dedicated UNICEF staff around the world.

© UNICEF/UNI116533/Pirozzi

For instance, in Niger, children’s education is a national challenge: one in three children do not go to school. For girls, the situation is even worse: only one in two girls goes to primary school, one in 10 to secondary school and one in 50 to high school. With this in mind, UNICEF and the Nigerien Government combined their efforts and made it a top priority to provide a nurturing environment for children in the school and realize their right to education.

Garin Badjini is one of the 600 primary schools in Niger that have committed to work towards obtaining the Child and Girl-Friendly School label by 2013. The approach is targeted at the most disadvantaged areas and aims to promote child-centred teaching, health and hygiene education and non-discriminatory, child rights-based practices. It also seeks to enhance the participation of children, parents and community members in school improvement initiatives.

© UNICEF/UN0220210/Sibiloni

We are currently facing the largest wave of young people in history, with millions of children and youth out of school in crisis-affected countries. Far too many go their entire childhood living in uncertainty and are facing a future with no potential opportunities. For children around the world caught in conflict and disaster, education is a lifeline, especially for girls.

Soon the population of under-30s in the most fragile and unstable countries is going to spike. Adolescent girls in particular are in an incredibly important yet delicate position. They are significantly impacted by the decisions leaders make, yet disregarded in important discussions. They are vulnerable to threats like gender-based violence, discrimination, child, early and forced marriage, early pregnancy and motherhood, and lack of access to healthcare and quality education.

All children, regardless of circumstances, should have equal opportunities in education. However, children often face barriers to accessing education due to personal circumstances, like poverty, gender, ethnicity, orphan status, disability and/or living in a conflict zone. Thanks to global efforts, girls’ education is gaining more momentum and enabling girls to gain confidence and knowledge.

Through my work and travels with UNICEF, I’ve met so many girls with enough talent, optimism and determination to put many of us to shame. Girls can and should grow into future leaders, innovators and educators. Around the world, girls have the potential to create change and inspire progress – if they’re given the chance.

Guest Blogger, Martha Spears, Director, Development (Major Gifts)


www.unicef.ca | facebook.com/UNICEF-Canada | @UNICEFLive


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.