KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – When sickness forced Jodi Brown to go on social assistance she received all of $306 for her and her children to make it through the month. “That’s not a lot of money, it gave me a budget of $56 for groceries,” she says.
Jodi is one one of the few people willing to speak out about living conditions in public housing and a welfare system that is miserly and punitive. She is no stranger to readers of the Nova Scotia Advocate. We have written quite a bit about the deplorable conditions in public housing units in the Greystone Drive area in Spryfield, neglected by Metro Regional Housing. Jodi is featured in each one of these stories.
Not many people who depend on the government speak out publicly. Rightly or wrongly, people on welfare are scared, scared of the bureaucrats in Community Services, and scared of their individual caseworkers.
And then there are the fearless ones.
There is Kendall Worth, chair of the Benefits Reform Action Group, and frequent writer for the Nova Scotia Advocate. You never get the sense that he is holding back. There is also Tim Blades, Lucy MacDonald, Lila Mosher, Judy Deal, brave people who have decided that enough is enough, and that it is time to organize and speak out. I know I am forgetting some. As well, there are the anonymous folks who spoke to you through our Lives on Welfare stories. There are also the first voice activists of the Community Action Network.
It is terribly important that we have these people in Nova Scotia, not only for what they have to tell us, but also for the simple act of saying it. They are examples and inspirations, what they do is crucial.
Now Jodi is exploring video to get her message out, and we are pleased to be able to amplify her voice through the tiny but mighty Nova Scotia Advocate.
Last month we showed you Jodi’s video about the horrible living conditions faced by two seniors both in their late sixties who live in a public housing unit in Halifax. In today’s Weekend Video she talks about her own situation, how she ended up relying on welfare and public housing, and what that was like.
Rather than do a monologue, she’d much rather help other people speak out, she says. Let us know if you think Jodi can help you tell your story, and we will pass the message on. Message us on Facebook, or shoot us an email.
If you can, please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to support voices such as Jodi’s, and to cover issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia. A pay wall is not an option since it would exclude many readers who don’t have any disposable income at all. We rely entirely on one-time donations and a tiny but mighty group of kindhearted monthly sustainers.