KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Anti-poverty activist and prolific Nova Scotia Advocate author Kendall Worth is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious James McGregor Stewart Award, recognizing high achievement by a Nova Scotian with a disability.
Kendall, who lives with several invisible disabilities, works tirelessly to raise the profile of people on income assistance, who live well below the poverty line and must navigate a punitive and patronizing system on a daily basis. An estimated 70% of income assistance recipients in Nova Scotia live with disabilities, making it impossible for them to find full time employment.
Like no other Kendall gives voice to the lived experience of being poor in Nova Scotia, whether he writes about the toll it takes on one’s mental health, the mean spirited penny pinching by the bureaucrats that run the show at Community Services, or the devastation and upheaval caused by a sudden increase in rent, or a pandemic for that matter.
That said, Kendall also writes about positive things, the strong sense of mutual support and community among people who are poor, and the small victories in the lives of the many people who are part of his network and whose stories he documents in the Nova Scotia Advocate.
However, not satisfied to merely write about poverty and disabilities, Kendall is first and foremost an activist, always ready for a rally outside Province House, and has often spoken truth to power at Community Services Committee meetings and elsewhere. At one time Kendall fought a Community Services decision that deprived him of a dietary special need allowance all the way to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court!
The announcement on the James McGregor Stewart Society website includes some quotes from the various recommendations the society received.
“Worth is the only journalist in Nova Scotia who consistently writes about people living in poverty — poverty that is due to systemic issues our governments will not address. These issues include chronic unemployment, disability, low pay and mental health matters. His focus on mental health and the problems of people who are ostracized and demeaned because of mental illness are much needed. He also writes empathetically about the loneliness and lack of social contact many disadvantaged people face.”
“Worth’s op-eds show a journalist with presence of mind, and a person not easily taken in by those in authority. He is a leader in that he exposes what is happening in his own community and calls for change. He does not give up. He is always willing to discuss, find out more and yet he persists as a thorn in the side of government — which has a record of batting away opposition, and changing the channel.”
“Kendall is the backbone of anti-poverty work in Halifax and throughout the province and even through this pandemic he is stronger than ever. He is assisting people with applying to CERB, navigating the tax system, and helping people get answers to their questions. He literally does not stop fighting and that’s why Kendall is really the perfect candidate for this award.”
The award, which has been handed out annually since 2015 was previously given to well known activists such as Sarah Dube, Clary Stubbert, Gerry Post, Paul Vienneau and Jenn Powley.
The Award recognizes the spirit of Mr. James McGregor Stewart, first in his class at Dalhousie Law School in 1914, and President of the Students’ Council. He was shortlisted for the Rhodes Scholarship but was not successful, due to concerns expressed about his physical condition. Nevertheless, Stewart went on to head a Halifax law firm that became the present day Stewart McKelvey. He was Chairman of Dalhousie’s Board of Governors. In 2000, Canadian Lawyer magazine named him as one of Canada’s ten greatest lawyers.
The Award was established by friends of the Society through the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, an organization that supports philanthropy across the province.
As his editor at the Nova Scotia Advocate I am so proud of Kendall and so pleased to see his tireless activism being recognized!
With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.
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