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Kendall Worth: Thanksgiving a mixed blessing when you’re on Income Assistance

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Regardless of your situation of how much money you have to live on and where the money comes from, having good health is in itself something to be thankful for.

On Thanksgivings income assistance recipients do try to celebrate being thankful for what they do have to the best of their ability. Yet when you live in poverty you have less to be thankful for.  

For instance, the young woman from Beaver Bank who I wrote about in two stories earlier says she has mixed feelings about Thanksgiving this year. 

See also: How a bus pass improves life for people living in the middle of nowhere

You readers may remember in the second story I talked about how she got accepted into the Career Seek program. She tells me this Thanksgiving she has that and also that university is so far going well for her to be thankful for. She is doing so far pretty good in her courses at university and she is thankful for that.

But she told me she is not looking forward to two days of feeling socially isolated. At first she thought it was going to be three days of her feeling that way, but then she found out that the library will be open on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. So she plans to spend the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend doing stuff at the library. 

She tried to invite a couple of her new friends she made through school, but that ended up not working out. It turned out that they already had other plans made for Thanksgiving weekend.

Also this Thanksgiving there is some sad news about William, who I wrote about in this story here: the double stigma of poverty and mental health.

Usually he spends the Thanksgiving weekend with his sister. However this year for the first time in four years his sister is not able to have him down to her place.  William’s sister has a job where she does shift work and she cannot get Thanksgiving weekend off work this year.

William agrees that this is something not to be thankful for. However he did get another piece of good news that he is thankful for. Starting in November William is going to be taking a program for six months. This program is going to help him with things like making new friends/social contacts, gain new skills, learn personal development and get work experience. 

William is looking forward to this. Also this program is set up to be an employment readiness program. William has recently made a decision that he wants to get back into having more productive days. He wants to get through this six months program and then look for work.

I also met with William’s sister who lives in Truro. She said over these past few months she has been reading some of my stuff in the Nova Scotia Advocate. She wanted to meet with me because she was wondering if I knew any organization holding a Thanksgiving dinner so that William would not have to spend the whole Thanksgiving alone by himself.  

I explained to her  that unlike on a regular Monday, I have never heard of any of the local soup kitchens being open on any holiday Monday. Just like they are not open on the weekend.

On a happier note I will end this story by letting the readers know that Jenny and her three friends who are on income assistance are planning to spend Thanksgiving weekend together, just like they did last year on Thanksgiving and again at Easter. 

See also: Shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner

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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