Statement on Inclusion and Cultural Appropriation
Carry Me Close Babywearers seeks to advocate for the practice of baby carrying and to normalize the use of baby carriers in our community. In support of this goal, we teach baby carrying skills to those carriers who seek our help, both online and in person. As we do so, we seek to foster an inclusive environment accessible to all, with due recognition that we do not own the practice. We are always learning and growing as an organization and do not allow or practice tone policing: if we have made a mistake, please let us know.
Acknowledgement of Indigenous Lands
Carry Me Close Babywearers acknowledges that we hold our meetings upon Indigenous lands. The territories include the Wendat, Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations, and the Métis Nation.
Acknowledgement of Cultural Appropriation in Babywearing
Carry Me Close Babywearers acknowledges that the practice of baby carrying we enjoy and learn today has too often been denied to Indigenous and racialized parents and children through processes of colonization and assimilation. We further acknowledge that our current practice owes a great debt to those parents who were not forced to abandon these living practices and who continued to carry their children in culturally specific ways.
Caregivers have been carrying their babies for thousands of years. Skills and techniques were invented to carry babies in every human culture – sometimes overlapping, but always grounded in the needs of the people, the time, and the culture. Every baby carrier has a unique cultural context, not often open to those outside of the culture. After industrialization, most European cultures encouraged women to abandon the practice of carrying their babies, and their skills were forgotten. They have not generally been revived. Instead, in the last several decades, people in Europe and North America have appropriated carrying techniques from other cultures around the globe, and sold them for profit. With some few exceptions, almost all of the baby carriers sold in North America today owe a debt to the skill and expertise of people who never abandoned or were forced to abandon their traditional carrying practices. We acknowledge this debt. When we talk about traditional carriers and babywearing practices, we endeavour, inasmuch as possible, to give the proper context and history. We have the utmost respect for traditional babywearing practices, and encourage our members to do likewise. We encourage our members to use the proper names for traditional baby carriers as a sign of respect for the origin of the carrier (e.g. onbuhimo instead of simply “onbu”).
Standards of Inclusion
Commitment to Anti-Racism: Carry Me Close Babywearers is committed to addressing racism in all of our spaces, online and in person. We recognize that racism is ongoing in our City and that it shapes the parenting experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC). We are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure a space that is welcoming to BIPOC, as participants in our community and in leadership roles in our organization. We do not tolerate hate speech, slurs, bigotry, or prejudice of any kind.
Inclusive of Socioeconomic Status: We work hard to reduce and overcome socioeconomic barriers to participating in our organization. Our Babywearing 101 meetings are open to all, irrespective of ability to pay. We do not ever condone carrier shaming and will help make whatever carrier you own work for you whenever possible. We do not believe that participation in the consumer culture side of the babywearing world is necessary to make a person a babywearer. Except when seeking to address specific circumstances on behalf of caregiver or child, we believe that most baby carriers will work for most caregivers and most babies most of the time. There is no one perfect carrier for everybody or for anybody. We firmly believe that “The best carrier is the carrier you own and use.” If you do not own a baby carrier, we will try to give you advice on where to find baby carriers at a range of prices.
Inclusive of Age, Caregiver Status, and Family Structure: We welcome all caregivers to participate in our meetings and online spaces. We urge our members and volunteers to avoid making assumptions about a caregiver’s role in a child’s life unless given that information. Families of all kinds and all combinations of caregivers are welcome at our meetings and in our online spaces. In our online spaces we insist that all caregivers caring for children be treated as caregivers and not as anomalies or sexual objects (i.e. it is inappropriate to describe babywearing fathers as “hot” because they are caring for their children as expected).
Inclusive of Diverse Feeding Methods: At our meetings, we seek to create a space where all members of our community feed their babies by whichever method they choose without fear of judgement. Participants are invited to feed their babies whenever they need to do so, by any means (tube, bottle, breast, chest, etc.). We support the right to breast/chestfeed with or without a cover based only on the preference of the caregiver.
Inclusive of Ability/Disability: We welcome children and caregivers with disabilities and strive to make our spaces accessible to all. We are committed to addressing ableist language in our spaces and avoiding ableist assumptions. We choose accessible venues for our meetings and we are working towards making our online space accessible through Image Descriptions. Members can learn how to write and use Image Descriptions here and here. It is possible that we will not always have the expertise to advise caregivers about how to safely carry medically complex children, but we work to tailor all our recommendations to the needs of each individual child and caregiver.
Inclusive of Gender Identity and Gender Expression: We welcome caregivers of all gender identities and expressions. We strongly urge our members to avoid assuming the gender of a child or caregiver (e.g. “How old is baby?” instead of “How old is she?”), and to use a person’s preferred pronouns if given that information. Gender-based bullying or hate speech will not be tolerated in any of our spaces.
Inclusive of Sexual Orientation: We welcome and recognize the LGBTQ+ members of our community. We will not tolerate any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in any of our spaces.
Inclusive of Religion/Philosophy: We respect differences of religion or life philosophy and do not tolerate Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other types of faith-based hatred in any of our spaces. We are committed to holding our meetings in non-religious spaces to remain accessible to all. We are working towards holding our meetings on varied days of the week to accommodate varying days of religious observance.
Inclusive of Race/Ethnicity/Nationality: We are proud to operate in a city which represents such a tremendous diversity of cultures. We will not tolerate discrimination or hate speech on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality.