In their shoes

Health care work­ers take part in an­nual poverty chal­lenge

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - WEATHER - KATH­LEEN CHARLEBOIS KCharlebois@post­

A num­ber of peo­ple who work in health care will ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand how liv­ing on just $11 a day can im­pact a per­son’s well-be­ing.

The eighth an­nual poverty chal­lenge, which is or­ga­nized by Mak­ing Kenora Home for the Week of Poverty Against Ac­tion, of­fi­cially kicked off on Thurs­day, Feb. 8. Eight par­tic­i­pants, all in the health care pro­fes­sion, will have to live off of $55 – the same amount a sin­gle per­son would re­ceive on the On­tario Works Ba­sic Needs ben­e­fit – for five days. Each par­tic­i­pant will also blog about their ex­pe­ri­ences and daily chal­lenges like a bro­ken wash­ing ma­chine or a den­tal emer­gency.

Stephanie Charles, who works at the North­west­ern Health Unit, said she wanted to take part in the chal­lenge in or­der to bring aware­ness to not only the strug­gles peo­ple liv­ing in poverty face, but also “how sys­tems don’t re­ally com­ple­ment each other and make prob­lems even [worse] for peo­ple, es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who need ev­ery chance they can have.”

Anita Cameron, an­other par­tic­i­pant who is also the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Waasegi­izhig Nanaan­dawe’iyewigamig Health Ac­cess Cen­tre (WNHAC) said she thinks her mo­ti­va­tion to join the chal­lenge is very sim­i­lar. “One of the more unique thoughts I had was that I was poor at one point, and now I’m not,” she said. “Some­times it’s easy to for­get just how chal­leng­ing life can be when you don’t have the same re­sources that I have ac­cess to now.”

Cameron added that WNHAC was cre­ated in part to help peo­ple in poverty to ac­cess health care ser­vices, but “some­times I think there’s a dis­con­nect be­tween what we try to do as ser­vice providers and the peo­ple for whom we’re ac­tu­ally try­ing to pro­vide that ser­vice to.

Nan Nor­mand, an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber with Mak­ing Kenora Home, said the chal­lenge has a dif­fer­ent fo­cus ev­ery year. Last year the im­pact of poverty and home­less­ness on youth was the main theme, and this year it’s how poverty im­pacts a per­son’s over­all health.

“We all know that home­less­ness is one of the ma­jor causes of bad health. We’ve known that for decades, so we de­cided that’s where we’ll fo­cus,” Nor­mand said.

She added that more than 50 peo­ple have par­tic­i­pated in the poverty chal­lenge since Fay Moore started it eight years ago. The daily blog posts from the par­tic­i­pants av­er­age 5,000 hits a year.

“We hope to con­tinue it be­cause as long as there’s one per­son who doesn’t re­ally un­der­stand [poverty] who might be in a pol­icy-mak­ing po­si­tion... they’ve got to know. They’ve got to learn about it,” Nor­mand said.


Six of the eight poverty chal­lenge par­tic­i­pants were at the of­fi­cial launch at Waasegi­izhig Nanaan­dawe'iyewigamig Health Ac­cess Cen­tre on Thurs­day, Feb. 8. All of the par­tic­i­pants are em­ployed in the health care pro­fes­sions.

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