We are fortunate: not only to be Canadian, but to reside in the beautiful Interior of British Columbia where the number of COVID cases are significantly lower than many other areas of the Country. That being said, poverty in the Interior is a reality and of growing concern. Increasingly so, due to the pandemic. The stigmas that surround poverty result in many families hiding the reality of their difficult circumstances. So many face challenges obtaining the basics many of us take for granted; such as food, clothing, and shelter.
The pandemic has allotted a great deal of time spent close to home. Thankfully, many of us are now more tuned in than ever to important social issues that cannot be ignored. Issues of racial injustice along with social and emotional wellness. These issues affect us not just globally, but in our own communities and within the walls of our own homes. Many of these issues are directly linked to poverty and impact each one of us on some level.
Pioneers such as Harriet Tubman faced a great deal of adversity. A slave, Harriet was beaten, sold and victimized and lived a life of poverty. Despite her disadvantage, Harriets faith gave her strength to pursue her dreams of creating a fairer and more just world through her activism. Harriet is remembered by saving the lives of close to 70 slaves, leading them to our True North, Strong and Free. Just prior to her death in 1913, she told family and friends “I go to prepare a place for you.”
We cannot deny our interconnectedness. We must not forget those who have fallen, or those who sacrificed so much. Harriet set the stage for us to evolve and improve our quality of life. She proved that anyone, regardless of circumstance, has the capacity to make a difference. With faith and compassion, we can create opportunities for those oppressed in our own community. It is up to every one of us to contribute to those struggling with poverty, those who experience racial injustice, as well as those who struggle daily with their mental health. A key factor to improving the social and emotional well-being in our community lies in the restoration of our faith. Faith in ourselves and in one another.
According to the United Way
“The available wellness and poverty data and insights for the Central Okanagan paint a challenging picture for many children, families and individuals who call our region home”
15% of Central Okanagan residents currently live in poverty (A rate that jumps to almost 50% for lone-parent families)
17% of children are living in poverty
1 in 4 Central Okanagan renters are currently living in housing that is inadequate, unaffordable, or not sustainable
At least 376 people are experiencing homelessness in our communities
With a grant from the Union of BC Municipalities, Central Okanagan is currently developing a community-based project that will implement a Regional Wellness and Poverty Strategy. The strategy will highlight the priority areas of action that will aid in community wellness and help to bring a decrease in poverty. The goal of the program is to both encourage and empower regional communities to get involved. Through community partners, local governments, key stakeholders and citizens, the strategy will be developed through a variety of community engagement sessions beginning this Fall.
What can you do to help?
There are multiple unique and beneficial programs offered near you. Call the Peachland Wellness Centre at 250-767-0141 for information and connections. The Peachland Wellness Centre partners with the local Fruit Tree Project to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for people. You can volunteer to help this organization harvest the apples, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and peppers that are all in season and ready for the picking!
The Peachland Food Bank is currently accepting fresh produce on Fridays at noon. Feel free to drop-off any extra produce you may have from your home garden to serve those in need.
You can support the Peachland Wellness Centre and Peachland Food Bank by donating online at:
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice”
- Nelson Mandela