KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The pandemic has made 2020 a rough year for Nova Scotia Advocate reporter Kendall Worth, but it has not been without its awards. Two awards, to be precise, as well as several certificates also issued in recognition of his tireless activism.
News of the latest award arrived at the end of the year. A press release issued by Independent Living Nova Scotia on December 18 announced that Kendall is this year’s recipient of the Lois Miller Tulip Award.
The annual award recognizes a person, group or organization that exemplifies the spirit of independent living and enables people living with disabilities to have control over their lives.
“Kendall has continuously raised important issues that Nova Scotians with disabilities face through his contributions as a journalist for Street Feat and the Nova Scotia Advocate. Moreover, his involvement with the Benefit Reform Action Group as well as the Community Society to End Poverty illustrates his commitment to making life better for all Nova Scotians with disabilities,” the press release states.
This comes on top of the prestigious James McGregor Stewart Award, which Kendall received in June, a House of Commons Certificate of Achievement sent to him by Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, as well as a scroll issued by HRM. In the fall Kendall was also the subject of a short documentary produced for Accessible Media Inc.
I asked Kendall how he feels about all the attention his activism and journalism have received lately.
“Well, it makes me feel that my work is getting some attention, and that there’s people out there that are interested in my journalism and taking it seriously. I write about stuff that I actually see first hand in the community of people living in poverty, which is something that a lot of other journalism doesn’t touch upon.”
Getting to where he is hasn’t been easy, Kendall says.
“Because of my disabilities I always found that I was a slow learner. My whole life, right from when I was in the school system. Writing over the years helped me fight the learning disability I have. Becoming the good writer I am now did not happen overnight,” he says.
“Back when I was in school in Guysborough County I had a couple of teachers who did recognize my writing. I was always pretty good at getting school projects done and passing them in on time. And a couple of my teachers had remarked back in those days on how I look at things from all perspectives. But these teachers were mostly the exceptions,” says Kendall.
This year many of Kendall’s articles have focused on the effect of the pandemic on people living in poverty. Kendall has written extensively on both Covid’s emotional toll on people on social assistance, many of whom live with mental health issues and disabilities. As well, he has done his part exposing their abandonment by Community Services just when their need for support is highest.
I asked Kendall why it is so difficult to organize people on income assistance so that they can push back against low welfare rates and bureaucratic nonsense.
“Two things,” Kendall says. People are so busy making ends meet and they’re tired and hungry, that’s why they sometimes don’t pay attention. And they’re often scared of their case workers. I try to tell them that they shouldn’t be scared, but they are, because of the way they were treated before.”
That said, Kendall makes another point he often writes about, how people struggling to make ends meet often support one another in countless little ways. The notions of mutual support and solidarity are strong among poor people.
“I want to thank the Nova Scotia Advocate readers for the support they’ve been to myself and others in my situation, at times like this past Thanksgiving, Christmas, and if you go even further back, Easter. There are people out in our community who really stepped up and did stuff to make sure we weren’t going to be alone at Christmas,” Kendall says.
With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.
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