By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Poverty comes at the expense of too many. That was the message at a candlelight vigil commemorating the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
© Adam Brazeau
20 people gathered at the Cornwall Justice Building during the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty for a candlelight vigil.
20 people gathered at the Cornwall Justice Building, some anxious for the free chili dinner afterwards, to discuss the financial hardships facing those in extreme poverty.
“Poverty isn’t just something that happens in third-world countries, it is something that’s present here in Cornwall and Canada,” said Social Development Council of Cornwall & area executive director Alex de Wit.
City councillor Bernadette Clement said the Agape Centre soup kitchen had 11,753 incidences of people in Cornwall needing help with emergency meals in 2012.
“Everybody living in poverty in Cornwall and area, know that we are here and that there are organizations around that are doing what they can,” said de Wit.
Elaine MacDonald, city councillor and labour council president, said that the event was a social justice movement.
“There was a time when the dividing line between being poor and being secure was a job. But, that day is behind us. You can’t say anymore that if you have a job, you have security,” she said.
Agape Centre executive director Alyssa Blais discussed the growing need for food banks. She said that in the '80s Canada had 85 food banks, and now there are over 3,000.
“Poverty is not a disease, we can actually eradicate poverty,” said Blais. “It’s at the government level with social policies that will help people get out of poverty.”
Oren Cole, Salvation Army pastor, said one in five parents skip meals so the children can eat, according to a survey from Food Banks Canada.
In Cornwall and area, the Salvation Army last year served just over 3,900 families, representing 80 tonnes of food.
“No one should be hungry. No one should struggle to find a job. And no one should be forced to sleep on the street,” said Cole.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17) has been celebrated every year since 1993, when the United Nations designated it as an annual event to promote global awareness on the subject.
After the speaking presentations, a free chili meal was offered at the Seaway Valley Community Health Centre.