The purpose of the Speakers’ Bureau is to empower individuals by giving voice to their lived experience with poverty and social exclusion. The concept’s origins stem from the Shifting Attitudes work group of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction; founded to combat pervasive negative stereotypes and promote educated dialogue around the community implications and costs of poverty and social exclusion. Participants will be available for speaking engagements to promote acceptance of community diversity and enhance awareness of local poverty issues through the telling of their personal stories.
Isabella is a proud Hamiltonian, by way of Montreal and then Burlington Ontario. Isabella was born into poverty but has worked hard to better her quality of life and is now considered one of the working poor. A sef-described information junkie, when Isabella is not feeding her addiction she volunteers with youth to the tune of over 300 hours a year.
Themes covered: Living wage, precarious employment, health
Jodi is a positive and powerful voice for change for people living in poverty in Hamilton. Despite the challenge of being a sole support mom to three children, two with special needs, she works tirelessly to empower others. She is a part time student in the Social Services Worker program at Mohawk College who sees her challenges as opportunities, refusing to let poverty bring her down. She spends her ‘spare’ time helping people navigate what can often be an overwhelming social service maze. In her words, “I want to help others know they are not alone and things will get better”. Her attitude makes life better for everyone who meets her.
Themes covered: Housing and homelessness, payday loans, daycare, precarious work, health
John has been active in social justice areas for the last five years. He describes himself as just an average guy trying to do something meaningful. John has lived all over Canada and has made Hamilton his home since 2011. He is an active volunteer serving on the Board of Directors of the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, as President of Mood Menders Support Services, member of Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the Hamilton Basic Income Group, as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) as well as working with the Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits and Environment Hamilton with the Good Food Box.
Themes covered: social isolation, housing, health and wellness, income security (including guaranteed basic income concept)
Lance, who was born in Brantford, has been a Mental Health Consumer Survivor since 1981 and has been advocating for 21 years. He has also been a Peer Support Worker 15 years. He has worked as a Peer Support Coach, and is a Peer Support Provider. He sits on a number of committee and Boards in housing and Mental Health, and now shares his story through the Poverty Roundtable’s Speak Now Hamilton.
Themes covered: mental health, income security, employment, social inclusion
Gord has an extensive background in theatre, arts and broadcasting. He is a great connector, readily sharing his experiences with others while being a vehicle for people in the community to bring together diverse experiences and opinions. Gord recently wrote the screenplay for our short SPEAK NOW video, “IN A RELATED STORY” and is also a retired CFMU radio talk show host.
Themes covered: employment, income security, housing, seniors
Katrina is a mother, daughter, friend and warrior. She has faced countless challenges – trying to care for her 6 children, dealing with an abusive relationship and homelessness, Katrina understands what it’s like to feel voiceless, powerless and hopeless. As an active member of her community Katrina’s story is one of hope, recovery and finding value in her own true voice. Katrina has become a passionate advocate for housing and is a spokesperson for the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, 20,ooo Homes Campaign. She is using her voice, story and experience to help and inspire others because as she knows first hand – everyone deserves a home.
Themes covered: income security, housing and homelessness, health and wellness, food security, employment
An avid runner, Sulema is a single mother, placing 6th in Hamilton’s Around the Bay 30km road race. She understands the lack of choices one faces when living in poverty and how that affects home & food security, childcare and health. Sulema is a member of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and a full time student at McMaster University. She believes that social inequities exist alongside meritocracy and social stratification. Sulema discusses how these types of social inequities widen the gap of whose voice is heard and how that voice translates into policy. Her upbringing in Honduras, Costa Rica and Canada has provided her with valuable insight on how to help the voiceless be heard. Sulema passionately works to bring about a more egalitarian society.
Themes covered: Housing, Health, childcare, employment, social assistance policy