September 23, 2020 CFP Meeting Summary
Poverty is a deep-rooted issue that is alive in our community. Our neighbours, colleagues, friends or family members may be experiencing poverty. For the September meeting, we invited three community members who have experienced poverty to take part in a panel. We gathered online ready to listen to powerful stories, acts of resilience and hear the truth about what is happening right here is our community. Questions were posed to the panelists, and they shared their thoughts and experiences which can be viewed below.
What do you want people to know about poverty?
Being in poverty is hard, it’s really hard.
You cannot think of the future, you cannot plan next week, next month, next year.
I was born into poverty. The experiences that got me there were not my fault. What got me out is ongoing support from local agencies.
The people who were caring, compassionate and acknowledged that is wasn’t my fault are the one’s who truly helped me get out of poverty.
There is so much poverty out there, people are falling through the crack
I was in fight or flight mode most of my life, when you have no money to feed your kids. I had a home but I couldn’t go back with my kids. I choose my children and was homeless for 3 months at the women’s shelter.
I didn’t realize I was homeless because I had my tent, until someone spit in my face and called me homeless trash.
When I became homeless, I crashed emotionally, completely stopped and thought where am I going to sleep?
I tried to find help, I went to welfare but didn’t have an address so there was nothing they could offer. I didn’t have insurance on the car. I would walk by fruit stands and one day I took an apple I knew I had hit rock bottom.
How do you think that poverty impacts society at large?
It is well alive in Kamloops. Working for the school district, saw it firsthand. Aboriginal people are more vulnerable, coming from systemic racism and residential schools. When I went to school in the 80s people were coming to school with no food. Still happening, impacts education, mental health, employment.
People can be cutthroat when they don’t have knowledge. You need to stand up and walk with them.
We still are fighting the fight.
So many people are fearful of associating with a homeless person or poor person. It affects everyone majorly. The rich are renting out their places, raising their rents high enough to get a wealthy class of people. Some want to turn a blind eye to it. That mindset in everyone needs to change. Change your mind, change your world.
What can a group like this do to help? What helped you?
Reach out more to your neighbours, be more friendly, clean out your cupboards and share it, do unto others as you want others to do. Don’t look down on people, the judgment is really hurtful.
More people need to be more open, honest and stop the nastiness.
Really listen to other people…It’s important to be seen, to be invisible is devastating. See people without judgment. Be there, with boundaries. They want boundaries too, we all need that.
I was in the shelter, there were two women who really embraced me. They took the time to find out my story and let me do it on my own terms, but they got me going to counselling. That talking process took a long time, because of shame.
The stories shared were powerful and not easy to hear. These stories along with others must be heard to truly understand and recognize what is happening in our community and to understand what needs to be done to assure poverty is reduced and ultimately removed.
The reality of these stories reminded Bonnie of a story shared by a local elder about measuring wealth in a community and how in settler communities wealth is measured by how much the wealthiest person has, rather than how much those with the least have. Instead, looking at how well the entire community is doing not just the wealthiest. Imagine how different our nation would be if we measure how well we are doing by looking at those who are faced with the unequal side of inequity. What if we decided we could not consider our nation as doing well until everyone has their needs met?
Last month we dug into key messages that the Kamloops Changing the Face of Poverty stands behind. Some of these messages include:
poverty is not a choice and it can happen to anyone
people have a right to a dignified path out of poverty
poverty is a systemic issue
we are interconnected
the whole community benefits by addressing the root causes of poverty.
At the meeting we presented the Kamloops COVID Response Communication Plan. The purpose of the plan is to disseminate key messages about poverty through the creation of a video. One of our aims is to create messaging that will allow members of the CFP providing front-liner services to communicate to the public about the most pressing needs of the people they serve. These messages will educate the public about the current experiences of people living in poverty and their needs, reduce stigma, influence and shift mindsets / underlying assumptions, share stories from those with lived experience, influence governments and policy makers and increase community awareness of CFP. In the coming weeks, we will be working with CFP members and community members with lived experience to create the video.
Service provider updates this month include:
The TRU legal clinic is open and available to take on clients. The clinic has started a new semester and has students who are ready to help out clients who have a legal issue. Majority of meetings will be by phone, please contact 778-471-8490 for inquiries or to book an appointment
The Loop Lunch and Learn is open at 405a Tranquille. The Loop Lunch & Learn is a new community resource centre in North Shore located at 405a Tranquille. Food, relationships, and shared space are fundamental parts of community and so the Loop is proud to offer meals, skill share workshops, and meeting space to those in need.