I recently listened to a podcast by Elizabeth Hames for CBC Radio. The podcast series is called ‘Slumtown’ and it consists of five episodes, the first title is ‘The Neighbours.’ I thought the episode would depict not only the not in my backyard’ (NIMBY) point of view but also the homeless, addicted and mental health folks who reside in those neighbourhoods. It did not.
The Edmonton region has 1 in 10 people experiencing poverty or 119,950 people. A family of four is considering in poverty when their income is about $39,000 a year or less. The data shows 53% of those experiencing poverty are women, 11% identify as Aboriginal and 42% identify as visible minorities. 9,705 lone parent families are living in low income, of these 8,460 families are female-led.
Sometimes people in marginalized or impoverished situations get invited to participate in surveys, group sessions and focus groups. What I wonder is, who are these data collection gatherings actually for? In theory, the basis is to help the marginalized and/or impoverished to receive better access to the necessary services. Of course, these services are in fact defined by social and government designs. What does this mean? Well for me - being considered "marginalized" or “living in poverty,” I get to participate in the process that will inevitably help me maneuver through the system. A system designed with bias.
For the last 14 years, the Edmonton Coalition on Homelessness and Housing organizes a Homeless Memorial to honour those who have died due to the effects of homelessness in the last year. I was first asked four years ago to share my personal story of how housing changed my life after living homeless for many years. I spoke two years in a row and each time I emphasized what I would like to see change for my fellow neighbours experiencing homelessness.
Susannah Cameron is the Community Engagement Manager for EndPovertyEdmonton. On May 30 & 31 this year, she attended the Make It B.I.G. (Basic Income Guarantee) Public Forum in Calgary to hear experts, including those living in poverty, make the case for implementing a basic income in Alberta.
The majority of the North American population are not required to live in constant survival mode and likely do not understand what true survival actually is. The average person usually thinks of survival as the most obvious and basic items such as clothes on your back, stay close to food and water, have a place to get rest and find a way to get from A to B. There’s much more to survival.