Inspiring people to take action against poverty in Peterborough

Anti-Poverty Week features a series of discussions and workshops from January 23 to 29

Anti-Poverty Week (January 23 - 29) has been organized by OPIRG Peterborough and the Peterborough Student Housing Co-op
Anti-Poverty Week (January 23 - 29) has been organized by OPIRG Peterborough and the Peterborough Student Housing Co-op

Why does poverty exist? What is anti-poverty? What does it mean to be poor? These are the types of questions to be discussed during Anti-Poverty Week, which takes place from Saturday, January 23rd to Friday, January 29th in Peterborough.

Campus-based social and environmental justice organization OPIRG Peterborough and the Peterborough Student Housing Co-op have organized a series of events to stimulate community dialogue about issues of poverty, poor-bashing and stigma-busting — both for those with lived experiences of poverty and those who advocate for anti-poverty.

Participants include members of the community and members of OPIRG Peterborough, Food Not Bombs, Active Minds, Nourish, the Basic Income Guarantee Network, the Faculty of Education at Trent University, the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network, and the Revolutionary Student Movement.

“We are hoping that this week of events will get new people interested in becoming involved with anti-poverty activism,” says Gillian Turnham of Food Not Bombs Peterborough.

The events, most of which take place at Sadleir House and Trent University, include an introduction to Food Not Bombs, what is needed for food sovereignty, housing injustice, income security and guarantee, living wages, poor bashing and how to break the stigma, and how poverty affects mental health and class oppression in education. A complete list of events, times, and locations is provided below or you can download a PDF schedule from OPIRG’s website.

Fiona White, professor of Concurrent Education at Trent University, explains that “anti-poverty” is more complex than simply being against poverty.

“It’s about learning more about poverty issues in such a way that one can both act in the present to make things better for those who are impacted by poverty, and for the future so that one can affect policies and practices that reduce both the scale of poverty and the impact that it has on individuals,” she says.

The events are designed to provide community members with the information and tools they need to take action against poverty. All events are free and open to the public. Food or coffee and tea will be provided at every event, and bus far will be provided upon request.

For more information about Anti-Poverty week, contact OPIRG at 705-741-1208 or at

Saturday, January 23

What: Free Soup at the Farmers’ Market
When: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: Peterborough Farmers’ Market (Morrow Building, 151 Lansdowne St. W., Peterborough)

Food Not Bombs — a global grassroots movement aiming to defend and reclaim community, sovereignty, and food justice from the jaws of poverty and war — invites you to enjoy free soup and find out more about the Food Not Bombs movement.

Monday, January 25

What: Poor-bashing Community Dialogue
When: 1 – 3 p.m.
Where: Black Honey (217 Hunter St. W., Peterborough)

People living in poverty are dehumanized and devalued in our society and local community as a function of capitalism, resulting in damaging stereotypes and violence towards poor folks on both structural and interpersonal levels. Community organizer and anti-poverty activist Rachelle Sauve will speak on these themes, followed by a discussion about poor-bashing in our community and how to challenge it. Food and tea/coffee will be provided. People from all life experiences and backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to attend and be a part of this community dialogue.

What: Mental Health and Poverty
When: 3 – 5 p.m.
Where: Gathering Space at Gzowski College (1 Gzowski Way, Peterborough)

An overview on how mental health problems leads to financial instability and how that leads to problems with mental health. The discussion panel members are Jack Veitch (CMHA ­ Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Branch), Jennifer Lund (Student Accessibility Services at Trent University), Kelly McCarthy (Trent Active Minds), and Sabrina Calogeracos (OPIRG Peterborough). They will share their experiences from working in the community and on campus, as they hope to de­stigmatize this intersection between mental health and poverty.

What: Monday Night Meal at Confederation Park
When: 3:30 – 9 p.m.
Where: Confederation Park (500 George St. N., Peterborough)

Join Food Not Bombs and see for yourself what goes on in the kitchen: learn new recipes, make new friends, and maybe discover talents you didn’t even know you had. Help set up at the park, then kick back and enjoy the delicious community feast. And for all those hardcore anti-poverty warriors out there, stay to help wash dishes at the end.

What: Why Food Banks Aren’t the Solution
When: 7 – 9 p.m.
Where: Lecture Hall at Sadleir House (751 George St. N., Peterborough)

Join a discussion on the role of food banks in Peterborough and new ways to address hunger and poverty in our community. A popular education component will take you through questions of why food banks exist, why they should not, and what alternatives there are.

Tuesday, January 26

What: Cooking on a Dime, Sharing Stories
When: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Where: Seeds of Change (534 George St. N., Peterborough)

An open event for people who identify with poverty and want to learn ways to eat healthy on a limited budget and share experiences with one another while helping to cook (and eat) a meal. This event brings together cooking, eating, and sharing experiences about poverty. The group will make a communal meal and collaborate about smart shopping, cooking, and eating techniques that encourage health and save money. The food element will explore health and frugality through non-meat options, buying in bulk, and looking deeper into processed food practices and how to understand food labels. Discussion will begin by splitting up tasks and sharing in smaller groups to encourage safety and to give everyone a voice, followed by coming together as a group.

What: A Solution that Sticks: The Case for a Basic Income Guarantee
When: 2 – 4 p.m.
Where: Lecture Hall at Sadleir House (751 George St. N., Peterborough)

Why are so many people in our community struggling to pay for food and rent? When it comes to poverty and hunger, limited incomes and inadequate social assistance rates are making it impossible for people to make ends meet. Join Nourish and the Basic Income Peterborough Network for a hands-on workshop on how we can stop poverty in its tracks. This session will introduce the idea of a basic income, an exciting way to ensure that everyone — regardless of work status — has enough money to meet their needs and live with dignity and health.

What: Housing Security and Housing Justice
When: Tuesday, January 26, 7pm-9pm
Where: Sadleir House (751 George St. N., Peterborough)

This panel discussion brings together people who lived experiences with housing insecurity and representatives from a variety of local community organizations engaged in work around housing insecurity and housing justice in Peterborough. Panel members will speak from their varying perspectives about their lived experiences, the work they are doing in the community, challenges to housing justice in Peterborough, and areas of possibility for moving forward with housing justice work. Discussion will be facilitated by a representative from the Peterborough Student Co-op.

Wednesday, January 27

What: Campus Food Security Report Launch
When: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Where: OC 207, Otonabee College (2151 East Bank Dr., Peterborough)

OPIRG presents an independent research report into campus food insecurity across Canada and the responses to it on campuses in every province. The report looks at small- and medium-sized campuses in Canada and their infrastructure and responses to food insecurity. The presentation of the report will be followed by a question-and-answer period and a visioning session, with the goal of bringing together a group of people who can help to agitate and build a food security solution.

What: A Glimpse of Life On the Streets
When: 1 – 3 p.m.
Where: Old YMCA Building (George St. & McDonnel St., Peterborough)

This two-hour tour will give a glimpse of life on the streets in order to form relationships and build community.

What: Poverty in Schools
When: 4 – 6 p.m.
Where: Hobbs Library at Sadleir House (751 George St. N., Peterborough)

What impact does poverty have on students in schools? How can teachers, schools, and communities work directly to minimize this impact? What can they do to change the situation in their community? This session will provide an opportunity for participants to develop their own responses to those questions, and to come up with recommendations for individual and collective actions. Fiona White, Coordinator of the Queen’s-Trent Concurrent Education program, will draw on educational research to provide an introductory overview of the issue, and then will moderate a panel discussion with representatives from local schools and agencies who provide support for students. The session will conclude with an opportunity for participants to engage in small-group discussion to generate recommendations for their own activities, as well as for the Peterborough community.

What: How to Do Anti-Poverty Activism
When: 7 – 9 p.m.
Where: GC 345, Gzowski College (1 Gzowski Way, Peterborough)

A two-hour workshop facilitated by City Councillor (and member of Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network) Diane Therrien on how to get involved in anti-poverty activism in the Peterborough community. Current poverty issues in Peterborough will be discussed in addition to discussing practical ways that students can participate in anti-poverty activism in the community. Refreshments will be provided.

Thursday, January 28

What: Class Struggle in the University
When: 12 – 2 p.m.
Where: ECC 212, Lady Eaton College (1755 West Bank Dr., Peterborough)

Join Revolutionary Student Movement Peterborough (RSM) as they present and discuss the university as a place of class confrontation. Take a hard look at what it means to be a student and who really is gaining from education as it stands.

What: Fighting Poverty in Free Market Fashion
When: 5 – 6 p.m.
Where: Lecture Hall at Sadleir House (751 George St. N., Peterborough)

A brief history of the free market and a discussion of the principles of anti-capitalism, environmental sustainability, and local community building. Participants will be invited to reflect on what role clothing plays in their identity and how they perceive others. The fashion industry will be used as an example to critique non-sustainable and environmentally damaging corporate practices.

What: Popular Education Art & Banner Making Workshop
When: 6 – 8 p.m.
Where: Lecture Hall at Sadleir House (751 George St. N., Peterborough)

Participants will be led through a series of creative activities designed to get people to translate ideas about poverty in Peterborough into a visual or verbal message to be seen by the wider community. The event will begin with a brief performance by members of the Peterborough Poetry Slam Team to get the creative juices flowing, and will end with the creation of a banner to be dropped at Trent. No experience or confidence in creating art is required.

Friday, January 29

What: Letter Writing to Politicians – Using Your Voice to Influence Change
When: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: Back room at Black Honey (217 Hunter St. W., Peterborough)

“Dear MPP, I am tired of working for pennies!” In this informative workshop presented by OPIRG Peterborough (with Meghan Johnny), learn about the ins-and-outs of writing letters to politicians, including how to write an impactful letter, who to send it to, and why letter writing helps. This workshop will focus on letter writing for living wage campaigns, but will have additional information on how to write letters on your campaign of choice.

What: A Glimpse of Life On the Streets
When: 3 – 5 p.m.
Where: Old YMCA Building (George St. & McDonnel St., Peterborough)

This two-hour tour will give a glimpse of life on the streets in order to form relationships and build community.