2020 Theme: Acting Together to Achieve Social and Environmental Justice for All
The United Nations have decreed that each year, the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty would be celebrated on October 17th. On that day, all citizens in the world are invited to reflect on how they could be more in solidarity with people living in poverty. The origin of this day goes back to 1987, date when many victims of poverty met at Trocadero Square in Paris to affirm that: “Whenever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty.”
Every year on October 17th, the Moncton Chapter of the Common Front for social Justice (CFSJ) normally organizes a march and certain activities to reflect on poverty. This year, because of Covid-19, this has been cancelled. However, October 17th always remains an ideal day to reflect on social justice.
One way of bringing about improvements in the area of social justice is to attempt to change certain negative representations held toward people living in poverty. This can be achieved through an increased awareness of the many positive actions accomplished by certain needy people. For example, one could counteract certain prejudices by choosing to emphasize the worthwhile contributions made by numerous people who experience poverty. They should be the focus of interest on this special day as they often work as volunteers within the community. The Moncton Chapter of the CFSJ offers a list of 10 examples.
- Victor Paulin fights poverty “one pop can at a time”. Despite his limited income, he is able to make numerous donations to food banks through pick-up and sale of discarded pop cans and bottles. He also does door to door solicitations to increase his capacity to make donations. Victor has created a nonprofit organization called Entraide Pauvreté/Poverty Mutual Aid Inc. which he manages.
- Joe Arsenault is a member of the Knights of Columbus. He has volunteered at the Ray of Hope Needy Kitchen and was part of the financial campaign called “Empty stomach funds – Fill the bowls of the needy”. Joe did not stop there and later organized a bowling activity as a fund raiser. They collected a total of $4,000 which was used to buy the equipment to set up a soup kitchen.
- Julie Caissie, although only 14 years old, is overly concerned about poverty. When she notices at school that certain children have no lunch, she brings this up to her mother and asks her to prepare food for them. Julie assists her grandmother who prepares food boxes for people in need and accompanies her delivering them. Sometimes, she enters the home first and carries in the box with a smile.
- Marilyn Riel is known for her involvement with people who are struggling with substance dependency. For years, she has regularly accompanied many persons in their path to sobriety. Moreover, Marilyn also escorts needy people who have to go through the various steps required to access social assistance support.
- Roberta Cormier visits a family member two to three times per week simply to be an accompanying presence. Roberta also belongs to the Moncton group called “Support émotionnel”. When she has free time, she volunteers at the House of Nazareth Refuge, where she greets clients, does dish washing and other tasks.
- Sébastien LeBlanc is a man who, although he is permanently in a wheelchair, wants to be useful to society. He volunteers regularly at the patient’s reception of the George Dumont Hospital. He recently received a distinction for his 3,000 hours of volunteer service. Sebastien is also a member of the Accessibility Committee of the City of Moncton which tests if people with wheelchairs can travel securely on Codiac Transpo busses.
- René Doucet deserves a special mention for his numerous years of volunteer work: 14 years at Dooly’s as maintenance person, 10 years as a volunteer at YMCA’s Reconnect to accompany street people and as supervisor of the 25 persons who did box gardening this summer. Since June 2020, René now gives six hours of work per day at the House of Nazareth which houses 120 residents. He works in the kitchen and serves meals. He is well known for calling the Bingo, an activity he enjoys, and which is held once a week for the House of Nazareth residents.
- Dan Robichaud has been an advocate for those living with physical and intellectual disabilities in Moncton for many years. The focus of Dan’s contribution has been fundraising beginning with volunteer work with Moncton Headstart followed by extensive contributions with the Inclusion Advocacy Group. Through the Fun Challenge and other initiatives, Dan raised over $25,000.00. He has been events coordinator and vice-president of People First of Moncton and has been a very vocal advocate for Codiac Transpo, the Pink Flamingo nightclub and Pride sidewalks in Moncton. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Inclusion Advocacy Group.
- Salwa Madidich is a young immigrant from the Ivory Coast. Last summer, she joined the volunteer team at the House of Nazareth Shelter. She worked in the kitchen, at the reception desk and at other tasks. Presently, Salwa is enrolled at the Université de Moncton’s Administration Faculty but she works during weekends at the House of Nazareth.
- Yvon LeBreton is concerned about peoples searching for affordable housing. He informs NB Housing about vacant apartments that could possibly be offered to needy people. He has a natural disposition to sharing and he regularly distributes a part of the food he receives from a food bank. Yvon enjoys box gardening, thus minimizing the pollution associated with food transport.
The United Nation’s theme for the year 2020 points to the link between poverty and environmental justice. As the degradation of the environment progresses, it is increasingly clear that people living in poverty are the ones who are most affected. Global warming has a negative impact on crops and is responsible for increased cost of food, a factor which has a direct on the nutritional status of thousands of individuals and families in New Brunswick.
On this special day of October 17th, the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice launches two important messages:
- Let us recognize the contributions made by people living in poverty as well as the positive aspects of their involvement in society.
- Let us ask the New Brunswick government to legislate so that an adequate income is provided to people living in poverty, one that respects their dignity.
Pour information :
Johanne Petitpas : (506) 204-4482
Marilyn Riel : (506) 384-4403