Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 20, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

“Poetree”- L’Arche Hearts and Hands at Antigonight

(Place your positive intentions on the tree)


To an outsider, Antigonish must look pretty darn good.

Having just traveled across Canada, one quickly realizes that everyone considers their hometown as something special. Every village, town and city has its attributes which engenders civic pride. Antigonish is blessed with so many wonderful resources including a university and a regional hospital. The economy seems to purr along nicely even when global issues cause major disruptions. We have world class sporting facilities and we take great pride in our culture and heritage. On the surface, it appears to be one of the most prosperous communities in Canada.

But for all of the blessings Antigonish enjoys, not everyone participates equally in the spoils of success. According to the most recent census, Antigonish town and county have an alarming amount of poverty. We may not see it, but it is definitely there.

On a macro scale, you can draw lines to income inequality or power and wealth imbalance. It seems that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to expand and you can sense that the average Joe is agitated. Discontent with power structures, the corporate elites and politicians, people are electing people to positions of power who seem content to upend the status quo.

The reasons for poverty in towns and cities across this country are easy to pinpoint but oh so difficult to find solutions. Poor people don’t have enough money to live on. This includes, ever increasingly, the working poor. Income assistance levels and minimum wage are not enough to cover the basics of life nor to rise above the poverty level. There is gender discrimination and exploitation. Many women still do not earn what their male counterparts earn for work of equal value. There is institutional racism and class oppression.

The local Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition (APRC) recognizes, all too well, the challenges faced by people living in poverty. The big issues locally are transportation, affordable housing, income security, food security, energy security and inclusive recreation. Over the past several years the Coalition has expended a great deal of time and energy to build affordable housing units and help with the creation of Antigonish Transit. It was the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society, a member of the Coalition, that built the new affordable housing units. The action plan of the APRC ignited the Antigonish Community Transit initiative.

Earlier this week, I attended a full day conference of the many stakeholders who work with and for the people who struggle to live in poverty. Many of the problems are systemic. Just about everyone in that room works hard dealing with the consequences of poverty whether it is the public health system, the justice system, the Food Bank or St.Vincent de Paul.

The Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition wants to hear from you. During the month of October, a number of “People’s Schools” will be held throughout Antigonish town and county to get input from the general public. Sessions will be held in Pomquet, Upper Big Tracadie, and Paqtnkek First Nation as well as in the town of Antigonish. I have agreed to help organize the Antigonish meeting. So please, if you care about this issue and have some thoughts to share, join us on Tuesday, October 16th from 6-8:30 p.m. at the People’s Place Library Community Room. I must say that I found the session this week very enlightening.

Have you been following the NAFTA negotiations? Some may equate this with watching paint dry but there is some very serious stuff going on which could affect everyone’s pocketbook. The dairy industry in Canada is caught in the crosshairs of this debate. I want you to know that I did my level best this summer to do my share for dairy producers by eating ice cream almost every single day. We had grandchildren visiting almost daily for three months and with the endless warm, sunny days, a trip to the ice cream stand, strategically located about a 5 minute crawl from our apartment door, was a daily occurrence.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. You should have no trouble remembering the date for the Antigonish People’s School session on October 16th. This is the day before cannabis becomes legal. I think I’ll camp out in front of the NSLC on the 17th. I might get a story or two!



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