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Kendall Worth: Canada Day and how to deal with uncomfortable encounters with well off people

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Finally it’s summer, and as I have explained before many Income Assistance recipients tell me that they find this time a bit depressing and isolating.    

Some well off people ask me, since there are so many free events on Canada Day, why don’t you people on income assistance go to those?   

Well, a large number of Income Assistance recipients either do not like crowds or cannot be around large crowds due to their anxiety issues. And they feel out of place because so many of the events have a family orientation, and they tend to be on their own.  

Lately I have heard from a few people in my community who saw my stuff in the Nova Scotia Advocate and who say that I need to stop writing my articles like I am painting the whole 100% of income assistance recipients with that same brush of being lonely and isolated.

This is true, and recently I spent some time with six income assistance recipients who fully plan to attend and enjoy Canada Day events and many other free events that Halifax has to offer over the summer months. Two of those are Dave and Lori, who I talked about in this story

I asked all of them, when you go to these events, do you mind running into financially better off people who might know you from somewhere in your past and will stigmatize you for being income assistance recipients?

They answered, “Yes Kendall, we are prepared for that possibility, and hopefully they do not ask us questions like if we are working full time these days. And hopefully they do not ask us how we are doing financially. After all, this is none of their business.”

“If they do ask, then we are simply going to lie to them about the answer to that question!” 

One of the lesson here is that you can avoid experiencing these type of feelings just by having the right people in your life for support when you need it.  

I wish everyone a good Canada Day and a happy summer!

Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.

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