From the Editor

How CC’s unique, scattershot community fosters friendship.

One of the first articles Dena Nicolai wrote for Christian Courier was eerily prescient: “Ripe for Revolution in Egypt,” we called it. It was late Fall, 2009, and the article was based on Dena’s observations from three years of living and working in Egypt. I remember crafting the title with her and hunting for the right graphic to accompany it. It’s hard to describe the feeling that followed a little over a year later, on January 25, 2011, when the riots began in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Journalism is no ivory tower. That experience hammered home for me that these stories are about real people and we owe it to them to get every photo, caption and paragraph right.

Since then, Dena has given CC a slew of compelling and thoughtful content – on churches sponsoring refugees; on the fallout of the Arab Spring; on the integration of new immigrants into Canadian society. In 2015 she won the A.C. Forrest Memorial Award for “Canadian Doctors and Nurses Fight for Refugees’ Right to Health Care” (July 28, 2014), which was fun to email her about since I hadn’t told her initially that any of her pieces were contenders. So you can see why, when Dena and I met in person for the first time in Edmonton in 2019, it felt like I was meeting an old friend.

For this “Friendship and Ecumenism” theme issue of CC, I’ve been reflecting on the friendships that my work here has fostered. It’s fun to throw ideas back and forth and share the Editorial page with writers on the editorial team like Brian Bork, Mike Buma, Maaike VanderMeer and, in this issue, Peter Schuurman. I value the perspectives that their voices bring to that space. And it goes far beyond content. Last week Jennifer Neutel and I had coffee in her backyard and talked about non-work-related things and it was lovely. Among CC staff, we often lament the lack of a shared office space, though we do our best to reproduce that collegiality over email. And after so many years of emailing CC columnists, I will tell you that many of them feel like friends, too, though I’ve seen less than half of them in person.

In short, these stories are written by real people, which I think you already know but which does bear repeating now and then. I have, for example, a busy family and a lively dog. Heidi VanderSlikke often asks about them before sharing news of her own golden retriever and boisterous family members. Lloyd has a new baby. Maaike works on a fish farm. Kevin’s mom had a milestone birthday. Naomi just moved and her new backyard has apple trees. Even something small like our different time zones or weather might get a mention as we email back and forth, and all of it informs the final articles you read.

And then, finally, after Hamilton Web and CMeMail and Canada Post or Google bring this content to you, there’s a connection with CC readers. These stories are read by real people. That has led to some beautiful friendships too – with those of you who respond with a steady stream of encouragement and kindness, or by sharing your own experiences with us. Journalism really is no ivory tower. CC’s unique blend of redemptive journalism is more like a dance, a conversation, an ongoing narrative in which writer, editor and reader all play a crucial part. For the friendships that can blossom in that process, I am grateful.


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