By Jennie Orton
The laughter that followed that statement was as genuine as the statement itself, but that’s what you get from singer/songwriter/child welfare advocate Raffi Cavoukian. Raffi is entering his 40th year as a live children’s entertainer and has not lost one ounce of his sincerity.
There’s always a worry when speaking to a hero from your youth that they’ll shatter your childhood to smithereens. But within minutes of asking Raffi about his passion project, the Centre for Child Honouring, it’s evident the enthusiasm for children that is his trademark is both palpable and real.
“Child Honouring came to me as a vision. A luminous moment that woke me up on a Sunday morning at 6:00 in 1997,” he recalls, without an ounce of pretention. “I saw those words ‘Child Honouring’ emblazoned in the air. And I knew at that moment that I was being given a gift of a vision for respecting Child and respecting Earth.”
“Respecting Earth and Child” is the slogan for the Centre for Child Honouring, a B.C.-based non-profit Raffi founded that’s dedicated to promoting respect for children and the world we create for them to live in.
“Once you embrace the entire crystal of what Child Honouring is…you see how much better human potential could be activated if we honour the young beings who come into our lives right from the very beginning,” he says. “If we respect their personhood, if a child feels seen for the person he or she feels that they are at that young age, then they won’t grow up conflicted.”
Further putting his money where his mouth is, Raffi has also spent two years drafting up the first-ever Bill of Rights for Protection of Children’s Environmental Health with the province of New Brunswick.
“It behooves us to choose benign processes and products, not to put more toxic compounds in our environment; in many ways what we do to our earth we are also doing to children.”
By protecting childrens’ rights to a safe environment while writing songs that help them figure out their surroundings, Raffi has become a safe voice to go to when a kid wants to feel seen and special. He even closed the telephone interview for this article with “a big hug to you, Jennie.”
Even well into my 30s, that made this #BelugaGrad — his affectionate name for those who grew up on his music, namely “Baby Beluga” — feel pretty great.
Raffi performs at the Orpheum on April 23. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Centre for Child Honouring.BC, British Columbia, children's entertainment, Orpheum Theatre, Raffi, Raffi Cavoukian, The Centre for Child Honouring