This is Poverty. This is Canada.
Every once in a while, the old myths about poverty will come out of the shadows. Everyone in the anti-poverty community has heard these remarks before: people on welfare are simply lazy; they just don’t try hard enough to get ahead; they exploit social programs set up to help only the deserving; people experiencing homelessness choose to live on the streets or in their cars and only have themselves to blame.
We know that these myths are born from ignorance about the genuine experiences of people living in poverty. Canada Without Poverty has always been governed by a board with lived experience of poverty and their perspectives inform our work. To tackle those widespread, yet mistaken views on poverty, we asked some of our board members in 2015 to describe what their experience of poverty was really like through our “Spotlight on Poverty” series.
Board member Wayne MacNaughton talked about his experience with poverty as one of assumptions and stigma. As he put it, “[w]hen you live in poverty and experience homelessness, people make assumptions about you. Sometimes when I’m sitting on committees they’ll see me only as ‘the homeless guy’. There is an element of people saying to me ‘go get a job’.”
In a recent piece on poverty in First Nations communities across Canada, Terese Marie Mailhot said, “Living in poverty can feel like being invisible, or worse, they notice you and your shoes, your lack of cash flow, or car, or insurance, or leisure.”
Nearly five million people in Canada are living in poverty. One in 8 families struggles to put food on the table. Three million households are precariously housed. But their stories and voices rarely make it to the policy discussion table in Ottawa.
Poverty in Canada carries with it enormous stigma, rendering it invisible to much of society. This invisibility means the people who understand poverty best – those who have first-hand experience with it – are left out of the conversation.
With a national anti-poverty plan finally on the horizon, this is a perfect opportunity to ensure that the “first voice” perspective on poverty is front and centre of the dialogue. To do this, CWP has launched a brand new video campaign to highlight those experiences. Participants are asked to answer the following questions:
- What’s your story: how has poverty impacted your life?
- Why does your voice matter to help end poverty in Canada?
- What’s one thing the government needs to do to end poverty right now?
- Do you feel poverty is a violation of your human rights? If yes, why?
The best way to do that is for you to share your story. Join our #ThisisPoverty (#Voicilapauvrete) Canada campaign and contribute a short video talking about how poverty has impacted your life and what you think needs to happen next to end it in Canada.
Interested in contributing, but unable to do a video? Check out our written submission guidelines for another way to add your voice.
Préférez-vous plutôt présenter une réponse écrite pour participer à la campagne et pour inclure votre récit dans la CPRS? Nous avons les instructions pour les réponses écrites.
Check out the video from CWP’s Board President, Laura Cattari for some guidelines on how to film and submit your video testimonial.
Disclaimer: By uploading your video to the #ThisisPoverty Facebook page, you are consenting for Canada Without Poverty to make free use of your image and voice for reproduction and/or display through any graphic, radio and/or television medium by any means or format transmission/reproduction and/or existing or future media (including the Internet), without territorial and/or geographical and/or temporal limitation, how many times and/or appropriate deem necessary in its exclusive discretion.