KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Organizers of a two-day anti-poverty conference in Truro hope that it will lead to something more permanent.
The conference, which took place at the St. Andrew United Church in Truro on October 18 and 19, was attended by about 50 people from all over Nova Scotia.
Some of the people who attended were on welfare, others were not. All were doing advocacy work in areas as varied as rural transportation, affordable housing, minimum wage, welfare rates and mental health. The disgrace of poverty in Nova Scotia was what united them all.
People sat in on small group discussions organized around a variety of themes, listened to a heart wrenching panel by local Truro residents who know all too well what a life in poverty is like, and attended presentations by Christine Saulnier of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Dr. Ryan Sommers, Public Officer of Health, Northern Region.
Stella Lord, coordinator at the Community Society to Eradicate Poverty Nova Scotia (CSEP-NS), was one of the organizers of the conference.
“Over the last six years or so we built up an extended email network of people all across the province, but what was lacking was a real interaction,” says Lord.
It’s always useful for poverty activists to meet face to face and exchange information and share knowledge, even more so for people who plug away at issues in the relative isolation of rural Nova Scotia.
But Lord hopes that the conference will also be the start of something new. “We felt the time was right to see if we could build a more substantial network, and wanted to use the conference to explore that idea,” she tells the Nova Scotia Advocate.
Lord is promoting the End Poverty Network, a new network of like-minded groups to share information and provide mutual support in joint efforts to advocate for more effective public policies to address poverty. There is power in numbers.
The network would build on the lobbying and advocacy experience of CSEP NS, the group that Lord has been engaged with for six or seven years now.
The objective is not for the network to replace existing groups, but rather allow affected groups speak with one authoritative voice when an opportunity arises, Lord says.
The proposal was discussed on the second day of the conference. Lord believes that based on that conversation there definitely is an interest from the various anti-poverty groups in the province to establish something along the lines of what she is suggesting.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more about the proposed End Poverty Network. Like the group on Facebook.
Stella would also love to hear from you if you have the skills and the time to help with the design of a website for the new network.
Oh, and if you can, please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to cover issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia.