Looking back over a historic Chew On This! campaign

This October 17th, the flurry of activity on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty left all of us at Dignity for All feeling grateful and energized.

As we distributed Chew on This! bags and postcards in the country’s capital, we had the thrill of watching the many photos, local and national media coverage, social media posts and political engagement stream in from communities across the country. This year’s call for an end to poverty was joined by the hundreds of dedicated groups who organized, mobilized and demonstrated how important a comprehensive national poverty strategy really is.

In previous years, Chew on This! was a chance to call on the federal government to create a national poverty reduction strategy. With the government’s release of Opportunity for All, the country’s first national poverty plan, the anti-poverty movement needed to make sure our voices continued to be heard. That’s why this year’s Chew on This! campaign focused on calling for the new strategy to be strengthened through increased funding, comprehensive policy commitments, and based in human rights.

This year has been a critical and exciting time for anti-poverty advocates across the country – and this year’s Chew on This! event was no exception.

  •  Chew on This! 2018 saw participation from over 100 groups from across Canada with organizers in every single province and territory. The groups spanned over 65 cities and included more than 800 volunteers. That’s a huge increase from the small cohort of 13 groups who started with the first event in 2013!
  • Organizations that participated ranged from Community Food Centres, to provincial and local anti-poverty organizations/coalitions, universities and campus initiatives, faith-based organizations and more.
  • At our event in Ottawa, we reached a new record of participation from parliamentarians, with 10 Members of Parliament (including Minister Duclos, whose office released the strategy in August), two Senators, Ottawa’s Deputy Mayor and faith leaders’. MPs also attended local events in their ridings.
  • We sent out over 25,000 materials in 3 different languages: English, French and Inuktitut. These included this year’s postcards, addressed to Prime Minister Trudeau, which called for the government to use the new strategy as a foundation for much more.
  • Local and national media covered the event, including on Radio-Canada and in the PEI Guardian.

For many years we pressed for a comprehensive and human rights-based strategy. And now, we will push for that strategy to effectively tackle poverty for the millions of people in Canada counting on our government’s execution of the plan. After a long and rewarding campaign, we want to say thank you to everyone who shared our call for a poverty-free Canada.

Now is the time for people across the country to send in their postcards to ensure the government hears our call. We expect the Chew on This! materials to act as a reminder of their accountability to the 1 in 6 people in Canada living in poverty. We want to see rights-based legislation tabled this fall, and increased investments for the strategy included in Budget 2019.

Let’s keep the momentum going into 2019 – We want a strong plan to end poverty in Canada!

Alexandra Zannis is a Placement Student at Canada Without Poverty in the Carleton Bachelor of Social Work program.

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