Idle No More in Caledon
By Monty Laskin
With respect, I am hopeful that those who coined this term, “Idle No More”, one that has captured Canadians’ interest from coast to coast to coast, will not mind me co-opting it. I suspect they would be forthcoming in sharing it here in light of my take on Idle No More for Caledon. I’m hoping that if they were to read this they would say to me, “All good by us. You’re seeking the same thing as our Idle No More Movement – for the community to step up, identify the challenges that have long interfered in people’s well-being and then taking the bold steps required to solve these challenges.“
That’s been the call from Caledon Community Services for the past year. It has generated a tremendous assortment of inquiries: entire families, interest groups, faith communities and small and large businesses all reaching out to us and asking to be involved.
Those who reach us get the full picture. Within the first phone call or meeting, they’re not left under any illusion that we’re seeking tepid support. Not a chance. We’re asking them to be all in, to take bold steps with us, to invest in a change process led by the community that will generate clear and obvious impacts on people’s lives.
Those who seek to become involved with The Exchange (the 4,800 square foot food support community hub now being built in Bolton) are met with extreme gratitude by CCS because we know we need all hands on deck to be idle no more on some very serious community challenges. We also know the way ahead should not be sugar-coated and presented with rose-colored glasses. There’s nothing pretty about it.
We’re talking poverty. In our organization, that means people not eating three squares regularly. It means children going to school with a less than adequate breakfast and having a lunch that is equally inadequate. Poverty in Caledon has seniors skipping a meal so as to make the rent. And sole support parents not having play days for their kids because there’s not enough snack food for the guests.
So what does Idle No More mean for Caledon? Within CCS we believe it means that while we’ve been working at this problem of poverty for a long while, years and years in fact, we’ve not really tackled it in this community of plenty in a truly sustainable way. Sure, we’ve toiled at the edges and put in place some semblance of a safety net. But in no way have we created a seamless basket of community supports that necessarily weaves the entire community into a driving force behind poverty reduction.
That’s what idle no more means for CCS. A drive to build The Exchange in such a way that the broader community comes aboard and no longer tolerates poverty of such abject proportions in a community where it doesn’t have to exist. If we are idle no more, if we manage to bring the community and its leaders into the Exchange tent, we’ll sure be idle no more on poverty. We understand that solutions require a patchwork of public, private and community-based resources. We’re starting with our community while also reaching out to our governments and private sector to also be idle no more on Caledon’s poverty.
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