In 2015 the National Association of Child Care Workers celebrated its 40th anniversary as the child and youth care association of
South Africa in Cape Town. Over the years individuals and institutions have built bonds of shared knowledge, collaborations,
exchange visits and friendships between Canada and South Africa. The result was significant Canadian participation in this
conference at the keynote, presenter and participant levels. In all, a Canadian delegation of Council members, 17 strong travelled
to Cape Town to share in this 'birthday'. This suite of pages reports on the experience with the hope it will foster future international
participation through registration in conferencing by Council members in the world movement for child and youth care networking.
Cape Town began as a settlement in the 16th Century linking it to Quebec City, Montreal, St. John's and the 13 Colonies of the
United States among others as the net of exploration and colonization was spread back in the day. Images of this great city and the
area around it are included. Not lost on the participants was the fact that this was winter in Cape Town, a daily source of wonder at
the contrasts and delights of this incredible city.
The sounds of drums could be heard as one approached the Cape Town International Conference Centre. Groups, linked by shared
common fleeces or scarves filed towards the hall singing and chanting. They turned out to be the youth delegates to the conference,
participating in their own concurrent conference and being active contributors to its sessions. Roughly 150 young people were
camping, crafting banners, meeting, dialoguing and resolving alongside their child and youth care professionals. This made an
impression on this writer and will be touched upon throughout. Traditionally, all 20 NACCW conferences have started with light, the
symbol of letting it in by the lighting of candles which burn throughout the conference. With their banners and drum songs they
gathered on the upper reaches of the auditorium announced that something truly significant was about to take place.
While much of the podium agenda is not
recorded here, it was punctuated by incredible
honour singing. An audience member will begin
a song, singing the opening lines in a clear and
haunting manner. Soon, others pick up on the
tune adding in their voices and then the entire
song grows until several hundred ( there were
roughly 1400 participating in all ), join in until the
hall is alive with song. Honoured guest
speakers, interludes and transitions all call for a
song. There was one in English celebrating
child and youth care which allowed everyone to
participate. Chanting was another feature. A
speaker would salute with a chant, say Viva
whomever, repeated three or more times. A
local explained to this writer that this is how
South Africans express themselves. How they
learn and transmit those many songs was a
wonder. Stunning to experience.
Dr. Jim Anglin, professor in the Child and Youth Care Program of the University of Victoria was the Keynote Speaker for the
conference. This writer worked with Jim on the 2003 international, Promise into Practice and at that conference he was
instrumental in securing CEDA funding to bring from South Africa, U. of Vic. long distance students enrolled in the program. They
graced that conference and inspired some to attend this one. Jim spoke of the impact of child and youth work taking the broad
view. While he admitted the profession has ongoing issues he thought would be resolved by this stage in his career, he noted that
its future is wide open. Africa alone is the fastest growing continent calling out for the cyc approach to social change and the Indian
sub-continent and China, with their incredible growth from traditional societies offer even more potential. His message was
up-lifting, optimistic and backed up by the work of the NACCW in developing the profession in South Africa.
One of the central pleasures of conferencing is meeting old friends and making new ones. Often, there has been collaboration over
the course of the year on work and experiences shared now on social media. Here, current Council President, Kelly Shaw, James
Freeman of the Child and Youth Care Certification Board, Rika Swanzen, Editor, Relational Child and Youth Care Journal, Past
Council President, Heather Modlin and writer, Garth Goodwin catching up over a 'tea' break.
Moderator Zeni Thumbadoo, Kelly Shaw, Wolfgang Vachon, Heather Modlin and James Freeman offered an panel on Child and
Youth Care Professionalization in Canada and the United States.Kelly, Wolfgang and Heather detailed the national, local and
provincial perspectives on practise in Canada.
The conference kicked off the first evening by
issuing all registrants a R100 credit card for the
V&A Waterfront which is Cape Town's dining,
shopping, and entertainment district on a
working wharf complex. Like the Dutch, South
Africans are expanding into the sea, the marine
front being moved in stages over the centuries.
This is where Cape Town stays open after four
pm. Craft artisians of the highest quality,
restaraunts featuring food from around the world,
harbours, condos and the finest luxury brands all
vie for your attention. If you had not been there
prior to this evening, you were probably definitely
going to return, perhaps a few times over the
course of your stay.