Every Child Matters.

Our thanks to Karen Erickson sharing her art with us. For more information on her work, please click here.

At Lil Helper, we are proud of a lot of things.

We are proud of the way we do business and the team we have built.

We are proud of the community we have and the amazing folks who have found their way to us.

And we are proud of many things about the country that we call home. We are proud that it is a place where people can live, love, and worship freely.

But we can never let pride blind us to the inequities and injustices that brought us to this place. We can't uplift the stories that make us feel patriotic and turn a blind eye to the history that makes us ashamed.

We cannot ignore the fact that we have what we have because it was taken from others.

And nothing has reminded us of that more than the discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools across the country over the past few weeks.

Hearing this news has left Indigenous communities reeling. Most aren't shocked. For them, the legacy of residential schools is well known. And the impacts of these "schools" are still being felt. But that doesn't make these discoveries hurt any less.

For many non-Indigenous Canadians, this is the first time we are learning about the residential school system. We are confused and heartbroken. We don't know what to do with the guilt and the hurt of this moment.

So this Canada Day, we as a company are taking action. And we hope you will join us.

Because feeling bad, or sending thoughts and prayers are not enough. Being a good ally means concrete action. So here are some things that we can all do to reflect, learn, and enact change:

Learn about residential schools.

Why they were created, who attended, and what happened to them. You’ll find a brief overview to get you started by clicking here.

Take a look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to action.

The TRC was created specifically to look into the residential school system and its impacts on Indigenous people. Thousands of survivors spoke to the commission about their experiences. The whole document is worth a read, but if nothing else you should look at their final calls to action. These are the specific steps they have asked governments, businesses, and individuals to take in order to begin healing the damage done by the residential school system.

You can read the calls to action by clicking here.

Demand action from others.

The TRC Calls to Action have been in place since 2015. It is time for folks to demand action. Indigenous or ally, your voice matters. Politicians have relied on the indifference of non-Indigenous folks to continue sweeping these issues under the rug. Once you have read through the Calls to Action use the contact information found here and these tips to write a letter to your MP.

Put your money where your mouth is.

Residential schools are not ancient history. The last one closed in 1996. There are many survivors still struggling with their experiences and the intergenerational impacts of this and other systemic oppression are alive and well for Indigenous folks across the country. So consider donating to an Indigenous-led charity.

For our part, Lil Helper will be donating $5 from every orange diaper sold in the month of July to Indspire, a national charity that invests in Indigenous education initiatives.

To learn more or to donate directly, check out Indspire hereLegacy of Hope is another great option for those looking to donate.

Keep learning and sharing.

Dig deeper into the history that you didn't know about Canada's relationship with Indigenous people. University of Alberta has an amazing free course that is focused on this history. And share the actions that you are taking with others. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse. So be a voice for change.

In a recent interview, Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation said that we have "all inherited the legacy of residential schools."

No one alive today is responsible for their creation and most of us are not personally responsible for what has been done to Indigenous people.

But, Chief Delorme also pointed out, we are responsible for what happens next. And if we take the time, this Canada Day and beyond, to do the work of learning, reflecting, and taking action, our generation could be the one who makes sure that we don't pass this dark inheritance on to any future generations.

So, even though we may not be feeling as patriotic this Canada Day, we are still proud. Proud to be feeling guilty, devastated, and uncomfortable. And proud to be doing the work.

Please visit artist Karen Erickson’s Facebook page here.

How to Support Your (and others’) LGBTQ2S+ Kids

…because LGBTQ2S+ kids do exist.

Statistically, you know children who will become part of the queer community. Many adults tell us that they knew as kids that they were gay or transgender. In fact, as it becomes safer and safer to come out, people are doing it earlier. That’s why it’s so important to teach about inclusion, diversity, and Pride early on. You probably already know some LGBTQ2S+ kids without realizing it.

That isn’t to say that every little boy who clomps around in mommy’s high heels is really a trans girl, or every little girl who likes baseball will grow up to date girls. Kids experiment with all kinds of clothes, characters, and activities, and that’s all perfectly developmentally appropriate. Believe it or not, there are straight boys interested in musical theatre and cisgender kids who play lots of dress-up. Those kids also need to hear that whatever they’re interested in, you’re excited for them, whether it’s a phase or not.

Photo Credit: Ashley W.

What the LGBTQ2S+ kids, specifically, in your life need to know from you is that if there does come a moment where they’re sitting in front of you getting ready to come out, terrified that it will change everything, you will always love and support them. The best way to make sure they know that is to tell them early and often that you love them for who they are inside, no matter what they do. A parent’s love should be unconditional. And this should inform your interactions with the other children in your life, as well–there are plenty of kids who don’t have anyone safe to come out to, and if you can be that person it’s an honour.

…even though it’s complicated

I’ve used both the terms LGBTQ2S+ and “queer” in this article so far, and that doesn’t begin to cover all the possibilities. Your child may come to you one day asking for you to refer to her with they/them pronouns. Huh? How? What does that even mean?

We all use pronouns. “We” is a pronoun. If someone asks you to use different pronouns for them than you normally do, go ahead and give it a try. I guarantee it will make them feel relieved that you support them and grateful that you didn’t try to talk them out of it. Guess what? I just used they/them pronouns for the hypothetical person in this whole paragraph. Yup, it’s that simple!

So wait, would that mean I have a gay kid? Well… not necessarily. Gender and sexuality are two completely different things. Often, people who use they/them pronouns are nonbinary, which is a way of looking at gender outside of the traditional male/female paradigm. Many nonbinary people feel included under the umbrella term “transgender,” but not all.

And not all transgender people are gay! For example, if your child was assigned female at birth but comes out to you as a trans boy later in life, he may be attracted to and date girls. In that case, he’s straight (unless he also likes boys, in which case he might be more comfortable identifying as bisexual or pansexual)… phew, is there a dictionary for all of this?

Luckily, there is, and it’s called elder queer folks. We’ve been through all of this and many of us are happy to help you and your LGBTQ2S+ kids through anything you’re worried about. I’m generally an open book.

Author, B, at work on teaching diversity. Just B Diversity & Inclusion Consulting.

However, I’d recommend Googling first, specifically for firsthand sources written by gay and trans people who’ve already done the work and will benefit from you buying their books or reading their articles. Most of us don’t really appreciate being stopped in the street and asked about our childhoods; I mean, would you?

…but my toddler isn’t gay

Well, your toddler doesn’t have a sexuality yet, and that’s fair–although I’ve seen my fair share of “ladies’ man” and “Mrs. Bieber” onesies. We talk all the time about their little girlfriends and boyfriends without thinking much of it. Weird, right? They’re babies. We have no idea who they’ll end up dating when they’re ready, if they’re into dating at all.

Photo Credit: Skye C.

When he’s older, though, I’m sure you intend on having The Talk with him, right? I bet you’ll stress respecting women and being a gentleman, right? See, you’re already thinking of these things, because you’re a great parent. And that’s the typical sort of talk you’ll expect to have with a boy, because statistically, most boys date girls… except, yours might be pansexual, demisexual, asexual, or identify as something completely different in the years that go by between now and when he’s ready.

Or maybe his best friend will be, and his parents will kick him out. That kid’s going to need to hear some love. Which means that all of this learning is still worth it even if your kid turns out to be straight and cisgender the whole time, because he’ll know how to treat his friends when they need compassion.

Teaching about inclusion and diversity early is beneficial to all. Photo Credit: Erica H.

Those are a lot of words and some of them are brand new, so let’s have a quick rundown:

Pansexuals are attracted to the person, not the gender. Boy, girl, nonbinary person, they’re all good as long as they’re kind and funny. Pan means “all.”

Demi means “half,” or in this case, “sort of.” Demisexuals are people who can be attracted to someone as long as they know the person really well–they don’t get crushes on celebrities or date someone just to see if they’re compatible. It might take them longer to find someone they’re really comfortable with, and that’s okay.

Asexuals may or may not ever be comfortable dating; they don’t always experience attraction in a sexual sense but might still love romance and affection. (If they don’t, that’s called “aromantic,” and that’s valid too.)

To make this even more complicated, the dictionary is constantly being updated and new identities are coming to the forefront. You might hear things like, “Back in my day, we didn’t have all these different labels.” That’s true; we didn’t. People who didn’t fit into the two binary genders were forced to act like one or the other. Trans people were literally arrested for wearing “the wrong clothes” at the Stonewall Riot, the historic reason Pride parades exist. Asexual and aromantic people were and still are pressured into relationships, and sometimes sex they don’t want. I’m sure that’s the last thing you want for your kiddo when they grow up.

Photo Credit: Nicola L.

So how do you make sure that you’re ready for the person your child grows up to be? Tell them now. I don’t mean “sit your two-year-old down and ask them which pronouns they want,” although that’s cool if you want to try it. I mean say things, repeatedly, like “I love you no matter what.”

Gay and trans family friends are totally appropriate to introduce to your kiddo at any age–there’s nothing “inappropriate” about two men holding hands, just like it’s not inappropriate for straight couples to do so. Let your kids know that any kind of love they find in their life is a love you’ll celebrate. “Why is that man wearing a skirt?” your curious child might ask. “There might be a lot of reasons, including that skirts are twirly and pretty!” If he wants to paint his nails, let him know you’ve got his back against the bullies. If she wants to go by “Theodore,” let her teacher know she’s trying out a cool new name, and ask her which pronouns she’d like to go with it.

Just like anything else, your kid is going to grow up into exactly who they’re meant to be, and all you can do is love them for who they are. If you know how to do that, you’ve already nailed it.

About the Author

After coming out as gay & trans in a rural/conservative farming community in East Central Alberta, B Adair (he/him) now facilitates community conversations to increase knowledge and improve diversity and inclusion practices with educators, business owners, healthcare practitioners, students, and community organizations to bridge gaps and eliminate stereotypes and stigma.

A former paramedic, B is an accomplished speaker, educator, and facilitator and his company, Just B Diversity & Inclusion Consulting is well known for providing safe and non-judgmental spaces for groups of all kinds to learn and ask questions comfortably. B uses his life experiences, sense of humour, and passion for advocacy to connect with people from all different backgrounds.

In his spare time, B loves spending time gardening, camping, hiking, and anything else in the fresh air. B is happily married to his partner Alix and together they have a family (i.e. zoo) of foster fail cats, an assortment of aquatic creatures, a rambunctious mutt named Lola, and her little brother (rescue puppy) named Maskwa.

The Most Common Vaginal Issues You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Having a vagina can be awesome! But it can also be a pain in the…well…vagina. From discharge, to menstruation, to pregnancy and menopause, our bodies go through a LOT -even when things are good. But it can get a whole lot worse when things go bad. So when there is a change or any sign of something amiss, we often assume it's one of the more common vaginal issues that everyone has heard of, like yeast infections. For more info on what is normal and what isn’t, check out this post.

Long story short, it might be something else.

Below are some common ailments that can plague you and your vagina that you’ve probably never heard of.

Common Vaginal Issues 1: Cyclic Vulvovaginitis

This is a fun one. Picture this. You’re about to get your period and you start burning and itching and assume your vaginal issue is a yeast infection.

You treat for said yeast infection, you have your period (a double whammy of good times this month) and everything goes back to normal.

Fast forward to your next cycle when you know your period is coming but lo and behold, the burning and intense itching begin anew. Another yeast infection?!

Rinse, wash, repeat. But what if its not as simple as that?

Enter Cyclic Vulvovaginitis

This vaginal infection can be chronic and flare up before or during your period, with next to no other symptoms in between your periods.

Someone dealing with Cyclic Vulvovaginitis may experience symptoms like:

  • burning, stinging, or itching (inside and around your vagina) just before a period
  • worsening symptoms after sex
  • foul-smelling discharge

Who is affected?

So this can affect anyone. It doesn't discriminate by age or race (somewhat refreshing these day, if I’m honest).

One of the most common causes of Cyclic Vaginitis is bacteria.

This doesn't mean you're unclean or have poor hygiene (though poor hygiene can contribute to this).

Put simply, your vagina has good bacteria and bad bacteria living symbiotically together, kind of like your children. However, every now and then the balance of your vaginal flora is disrupted and the result can be an upset in this precarious balance.

Similar to when one of your children knocks over the epic tower of blocks the other was building and now there is no peace.

I digress.

Bacteria is the leading cause of vaginitis but it can also be caused by yeast, infections, or environmental factors like detergents and underwear material. I can attest to the fact that simple, boring cotton underwear can help.

No shame in my granny panty game

Also, pro tip! Ditching disposable pads and tampons for reusable pads was truly a game-changer.

While some companies flaunt the many ways in which reusable pads can perform miracles (such as reduce period cramps) until there is sound research on it, I can’t share that with any certainty.

What I can say with certainty however, is that since switching to cloth pads I no longer have any adverse reaction during my period. The itching and diaper rash feeling that once plagued me monthly is nonexistent now. For that alone, I’m a believer.

Lil Helper has a great assortment of re-usable cloth pads. Check out their Hypatia cloth pads here.

Hyps pads come in 3 different sizes/ absorbencies

Talk to your doc about your symptoms to get a proper diagnosis (like all vaginal issues) as the treatment you might need can vary, depending on the cause.

Common Vaginal Issues 2: Noninfectious Vaginitis

Non-infectious vaginitis usually refers to vaginal irritation without an infection being present.

Most often, noninfectious vaginitis is caused by an allergic reaction to, or irritation from, vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicidal products (like spermicide-covered condoms). Also really tight, non-breathable clothes can lead to this.

Like I needed another reason to love my sweats!

Are you sensitive to perfumed soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners? If you are, noninfectious vaginitis can develop more frequently.

Symptoms include burning, itching, or vaginal pain (especially during intercourse). If you experience symptoms like this always talk to your doc as these symptoms can be caused by other ailments (like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis)

Common Vaginal Issues 3: Vulvodynia

Is the term for chronic vaginal pain with no known cause.

Any sufferer of Vulvodynia is a hero who can relate

Vulvodynia is a persistent pain of the vulva.

In case you slept through this part of health class (cuz, same), the vulva is the area around the opening of the vagina. It includes the opening of the vagina, the pubic mound, the inner and outer labia (vaginal lips), and the clitoris.

Picture taken from bodyform.co.uk
Check out their site for an amazing and informative video on vulva anatomy

Clinically speaking, this pain persists for at least 3 months with seemingly no cause. This sounds awful (because it is) and affects approx 16% of the female population or an estimated 200,000 to 6 million people.

Signs and symptoms of Vulvodynia

As no two people are exactly alike, nor are vaginas, so vulva pain can feel different to different people.

Signs and symptoms of of Vulvodynia (like many vaginal issues) may include:

  • Burning or stinging pain
  • Stabbing or throbbing pain
  • Intense itching
  • Soreness or rawness (like a rough chafing feeling)
  • Painful vaginal intercourse
  • Painful tampon insertion
Every sufferer will wholeheartedly agree

The two main type of vulvodynia are:

Generalized vulvodynia is pain in different areas of the vulva at different times. Vulvar pain may be constant or happen every once in a while. Touch or pressure may or may not cause it. But it may make the pain worse.

Localized vulvodyniais pain in one area of the vulva. Often a burning sensation, this type of vulvar pain usually results from touch or pressure, like sex or prolonged sitting.

You can find even more information on all of this here.

There isn’t much information available on why this condition exists. Some researchers think it might be genetic where some sufferers are more predisposed to it. Others think it might be caused by chronic inflammation or damage to nerve endings.

Whatever the cause, your doc will be able to help diagnose this and other vaginal issues. The treatments vary including creams, numbing ointments, and oral medication.

So in short there are common symptoms that can be caused by different vaginal issues. If you have any of these symptoms make sure you check with your doctor so you can get a proper diagnosis and get the treatment necessary.

The more we open up a dialogue to discuss these things, the more commonplace vaginal health will be. No one deserves to suffer in silence and you and your whoo-ha are worthy of the best care.

About the Author

Heather is a STAHWM who lives in St. John’s NL. where she’s raising two humans, two dogs, a cat and a fish. In between chasing her hooligans and waiting for her Hogwarts letter, she enjoys knitting, crocheting and campy 80’s horror flicks.

Safety Check-Up: Quick Tips from a Car Seat Tech

Car Seat Safety Basics

How do you know if you are using the car seat correctly?

Straps: For a 5 point harness, the straps should be sitting at or below the child’s shoulders for rear facing and at or above the child’s shoulders for forward facing.

Ensure the chest clip is positioned over the child’s sternum (usually around armpit or nipple level)

Are my car seat straps tight enough?

Pinch test demonstration.

This now checked with a pinch test. To do this test, pinch the straps vertically at the collar bone. If you can grab excess slack between your fingers and pinch it, then the straps are too loose. (This used to be a finger test but since everyone’s fingers are different sizes this is more universal)

Car Seat Safety starts at Installation

Check that your seat is installed tightly. Your car seat should be installed so that there is less than 1″ movement side to side, and front to back when grasping at the belt path. That means where the seat belt or lower anchor connector strap feeds through the car seat. That is the only place you need to test for movement, not the top of the car seat.

For forward facing- A tether should always be used with a forward facing seat. The tether reduces forward movement for the child’s head and neck up to 6″ in a crash; so reconfigure seats if necessary so all forward facing kids are in a vehicle seat with a tether anchor.

Clothes that Impact Car Seat Safety

Straps may look tight over a bulky coat, but leave large gaps when compressed in a collision.

Remove all bulky clothing- Bulky coats put extra space between the child and the harness which will compress immediately in a crash and mean more distance the child’s body moves before coming to a stop. Remove coats before buckling up, they can be worn backwards over the harness, or use blankets (like a cozy lifesafer mat) in the car instead. There are also car seat ponchos and approved car seat coats you can purchase. The coats have a thin back on them so you unsnap and open them but leave them on, do up the car seat harness, then you can cover child with the front of the coat if cold.

Removing the coat shows the extra space it create between the child and the harness.

Are cloth diapers safe in the car? Does the extra bulk from cloth diapers impact car seat safety? No but ski pants or full one piece snow suits do.  Diapers are bulky but not fluffy like the coats so they don't compress like a coat in a collision.

Extra Tips for Car Seat Safety:

Is your child in the right stage for their age?

Kids should ride rear facing until a minimum of age 2, ideally 3-4 years old; forward facing in a 5 point harness until 5+ years old, and in a booster seat until 10-12 years old. Always check your seat weight and height limits as well.

Once old enough to transition out of a booster seat, there is a 5 point test to try:

1 – Shoulder belt crosses between the neck and shoulder.

2 – Lower back is against the vehicle seat.

3 – Lap belt stays on the upper thighs across the hip bones.

4 – The knees bend at the end of the seat.

5 – The child can ride like this for the entire ride.

Have you checked the date?

Car seats expire anywhere from 4-12 years from the time they were manufactured. This time frame varies depending on the manufacturer, but plastics break down over time and an expired car seat may not protect your child adequately in a crash.

About the Author

Catherine is a single mom of 3, a social worker, health and wellness coach, full spectrum doula, breastfeeding counselor, and certified car seat tech who recently became a full time student.