For Roy Bear Chief, poverty in Calgary is a topic close to his heart. The aboriginal consultant for Vibrant Communities Calgary works in developing aboriginal strategies to address poverty. He also lived through the infamous residential school system.
“Even 60 years later it hurts, said Bear Chief. “We learned about fear and loneliness.”
For him, knowing and honouring your own cultural identity, and getting over racism and discrimination, is one powerful way of contributing to building a more prosperous life.
The event was organized by Vibrant Communities Calgary, stewards of Calgary’s Enough for All Poverty Reduction Strategy, and was an occasion for Bear Chief and other panellists from the business, non-profit and lived experience communities to share their experience and insights on poverty and how it can be addressed.
James Boettcher, a local entrepreneur and owner of Fiasco Gelato, believes that it is possible to “reinvent business as usual”. He believes in the hardworking nature of people.
Small businesses can give back to the community by putting people first, by offering opportunities and time, and, why not? A delicious handcrafted gelato to spread the happiness!
Others like Randy Pages have experienced homelessness personally.
“I am all about the support networks,” said Pages, adding that peer support is what makes the difference.
All panellists echoed a common vision on how to reduce poverty in Calgary: building strong communities, in your neighbourhood, in your company, in every space that you inhabit, acknowledging each other and the ways we can contribute, and allowing all voices to participate in an inclusive way.
Guests and panellists were greeted at the meeting to the sound of the drums, wonderfully played by the Aboriginal drumming group “The Turning Robe Drummers”.
The meeting was held at ArtBOX, in the Forest Lawn neighbourhood, a place where local artists show their talents and connect with other members of the community.