Inside the Walls of Language Learning

Originally published at

The reception room is filled with overflowing shelves of brochures about employment and social services. One poster shouts bolded greetings in multiple languages. A few women in colourful headscarves are waiting in line and a man wearing a winter coat despite the warm fall-like temperature passes by. In the hallways, you can hear the hard R’s of Arabic, lyrical words of a romantic language and others I don’t recognize.

In one classroom, teacher Sharon Benson is giving an animated explanation of ridings and candidates in the federal election. None of the students are citizens so they can’t vote, but they’re still eager to learn. Benson asks the group what election issues they care about.

“To pay my rent!” says a man named Emmanuel.

“Being a citizen,” shouts someone else.

“To bring my family here!” yells another, greeted by enthusiastic head nods.
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Power in a Name

Originally published in Crosstalk, newspaper of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.

“There is power in a name,” began Rev. Mark Whittall’s homily at St. Albans on Sunday Sept. 27.

Eliot Waddingham's re-naming service, a non-binary transgender parishioner who goes by the pronoun 'they.'

All eyes were glued to the front from a congregation made up of friends, family and community members, some who had never been to church, others regular parishioners. Regardless of background, there was a buzzing energy in hearing original liturgy on Re-Naming a Transgender parishioner.

Rev. Whittall described the problems of the “them vs. us” mentality in Mark 9:38-50 as he explained how “people who are queer and transgender in our society and in our church understand this dynamic only too well. They know first-hand the barriers and boundaries that we set up to define who is in and who is out.”

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