This weekend’s video Them That’s Not profiles single mothers on welfare all across Canada. It was filmed in the early nineties.
An hour-long, 25-year old documentary about people living in deep poverty. Yes, I really know how to pick them…
The thing is, once I started watching I was hooked. It’s really good.
It isn’t just about what’s wrong with the welfare system, it shows people fighting back. And it shows how poor people look out for one another. They have to, the government certainly doesn’t.
There is quite a bit of Nova Scotia content. For one, it features Brenda Thompson, at that time a single mother and welfare activist who forced Edmund Morris, the then minister of Community Services, to resign after he released her personal information.
Documentary maker Christene Browne offers a bit more information on her website. The documentary was produced by the National Film Board, and was the fourth film in a Feminization of Poverty series.
There is lots of gorgeous music by the Nova Scotia a capella quartet Four the Moment, featuring Delvina and Kim Bernard, Jackie Barkley, and Deanna Sparks.
You’re right if you think 1993, the year this documentary was made, is a long time ago. You couldn’t be more wrong if you think that’s too long ago to still be relevant.
Welfare is still punitive and degrading. Benefits are still insufficient. It still sucks to be on it. The stories people tell are every bit as heart wrenching now as they were 20 years ago. Solidarity and mutual support still go strong.
Just give it five minutes. Like me you may end up watching the entire doc.