Statement made on 27 October 2010 by Senator Nick Sibbeston
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston:
Honourable senators, my statement is about poverty. On October 5 to 7, more than 80 participants from 20 Northern communities took part in an anti-poverty workshop, called "No Place for Poverty." Organized by the Yellowknife YWCA and Alternatives North, the workshop opened with a talk by our colleague the Honourable Art Eggleton. It also featured a presentation of the documentary film Poor No More, by actor, comedienne and social activist Mary Walsh. More importantly, the workshop brought together a wide range of Northern social organizations and community representatives to address the serious problems of poverty.
I have always been proud of the North and always felt that, with our strong economy and close-knit communities, poverty was a problem faced mainly by the South. Like many Canadians, I was not always aware of the depth and extent of poverty in our country or even in my own backyard. I always knew there were those who were less well off in NWT communities, but it is only in recent years that I
have realized how many Northerners are impacted by poverty and homelessness, particularly in the bigger centres in the North, like Yellowknife.
The workshop participants recommended that the Government of the Northwest Territories develop an anti-poverty strategy similar to those already in place in a number of provinces. The strategy would focus on more affordable housing, debt reduction programs, accessible child care and community-based solutions.
I commend the work of these caring Northerners. I urge the federal government to follow their example by adopting their own comprehensive strategy to eliminate poverty. The North is no place for poverty, and neither is Canada.