Calling 42nd Parliament to Action with Millennium Kids’ Lawn Sign!

by Sara Hildebrand, Millennium Kids.

The long-anticipated Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030) were adopted by the world at the United Nations September 25, 2015. These 17 Global Goals follow the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015).

Now it’s time for CANADA to move into action! Millennium Kids are marking this historic commitment with a Millennium Kids LAWN SIGN that reads as an open letter to our 42nd federal parliament (not just the governing party) from Millennium Kids. As federal candidate signs have now come down, MK signs are left standing to call our 42nd Parliament to courageous action on poverty and climate!

On the sign, there are two poverty photos blurred together highlighting the expanded national application of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Canadian poverty on the left and global poverty on the right. The blurring is significant. Both must be urgently addressed by the 42nd Parliament. Sustainable Development Goal #1 – End poverty in all its forms everywhere – includes a new commitment to halve national poverty alongside meeting global poverty targets by 2030. Currently, nearly 1 in 5 Canadian children live in poverty.

The signs are available to order directly from the print company to your door! Please order a sign for your lawn or balcony to support Millennium Kids’ urgent message on poverty and climate action. (Approx. $21 including shipping.)

If you live in Toronto and would like to pick up a lawn sign directly from us, please email sara@millenniumkids.ca. (Cost $8.)

Thank you for continuing to strengthen Millennium Kids’ voices!!

What YOU Can Do To Help

by Patrick Flanagan

Keep The Promise vowed to give voice to children and to invite their engagement in the movement to end child poverty in Canada. Seventy-five-plus schools are active across the country. Children are studying the issues, engaging dialogue with family, teachers and political leaders, and organizing actions in their local communities. They are counting on us to follow their example. “What can I do?” you may ask. Well, here are a few suggestions for consideration.

  • Write to or meet with your federal Member of Parliament, asking them to support concrete efforts to eliminate child poverty in Canada
  • Contact Campaign 2000 or one of the many national and local organizations working to address child poverty in your community, to see how you might get involved
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or a blog post for a site such as our Keep The Promise site, explaining why this issue is important to you and asking government to take action
  • If you are attending a public school, encourage your class to explore the Canadian Teachers’ Federation website where you can register to undertake a school project on child poverty and solutions
  • Start up a Me to We club at your school
  • Donate to Campaign 2000  or to some local organization working to eradicate child poverty
  • Speak to candidates before the October federal election to raise concerns about child poverty, and get out and vote if you are of age
  • See more action ideas at Campaign 2000’s website 

Even small actions can lead to big change; the time is now, to build on the momentum that we have together created.

No Apathy on June Callwood Children’s Day

by Michael Cooke, Coordinator, Keep The Promise

June called children Canada’s “invisible citizens.” But the 75 children who participated in celebrating June’s birthday on June 2 in Toronto were very visible and very vocal. They came from Toronto, Ottawa and Cape Breton to share the work they have been doing to keep the promise of ending child poverty in Canada. They were joined by 75 adults who wanted to learn from their wisdom and example — Sally Armstrong, Mary Jo Leddy, Arthur Bielfeld (all members of the Order of Canada), school trustees, superintendents, principals and teachers, Keep The Promise donors, MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan, members of June’s family, leaders from Campaign 2000 and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation — all committed to bringing an end to child poverty in Canada. See the pictures and feel the energy on the Keep the Promise Facebook page.

Students gave crisp and compelling reports on the work they are doing: Twitter campaigns, designing portable shelters for the homeless, writing poetry about the issue, letter-writing campaigns to government leaders, writing a book on the issue, forming KTP groups in their schools, food and clothing drives and more. This was the work of 75 students. Multiply it by the work of KTP groups in more than seventy-five schools across Canada.

Natalie Kauffman, Education Coordinator at Walnut Studios  and Blank Canvases worked with the students to create five-foot-high letters, KEEP THE PROMISE. The entire group paraded from The Waterfront School to the new June Callwood Park and installed them on a giant fence — a big shout-out to all who walked or drove by.

The park party included educational games, visits from City Councillor Mike Layton, MPP Granville Anderson and Liberal candidate Rob Oliphant, a video message from June’s granddaughter Bree Fitzgerald, scrumptious cupcakes emblazoned with the KTP logo, and a moving speech by students Joella MacIsaac and Adam MacLean from Cape Breton, where one in three children live in poverty.

In the Ontario Legislature, members were reminded that the Keep The Promise campaign was established by friends of June to give children a chance to voice their experiences, aspirations and commitment to ending child poverty. Minister Deb Matthews commended KTP for its work to engage children and their communities in the fight against child poverty. She praised the work of the participants at our KTP events. Click here to read more.

June’s granddaughter Bree once asked her grandmother, “What is sin?” June replied, “Apathy,” and then made her learn how to spell and pronounce the word. There was no sin and no apathy on June’s birthday this year!

You Are Invited to June Callwood Children’s Day

 A Celebration and A Call To Action

June 2, 2015

 The Waterfront School and June Callwood Park

You are invited to attend June Callwood Children’s Day – June 2, 2015  – to celebrate the Keep The Promise (KTP) campaign’s efforts to end child poverty in Canada.

Since its launch two years ago, the KTP campaign has engaged children from across Canada in this work — a national student summit in November 2014, children’s meetings with politicians, anti-poverty projects in their communities, developing ability in children to exercise their role as citizens. The images and stories from the campaign can be found here, on our website.

As we prepare for the approaching federal election, we want to take stock of what we have achieved and how we might further the campaign in 2015 and beyond. We are planning three special events for this purpose and we would very much like you to join us.

Event #1: 10:00 AM to 1:15 PM – an intergenerational colloquium where students will present their anti-poverty work and engage a dialogue with politicians, anti-poverty leaders and Keep The Promise volunteers on the priorities for the year ahead.  Location: The Waterfront School, 635 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto.

Event #2: 1:30 to 3:00 PM a children’s party in the new June Callwood Park – a spring opening of this public space with music, children’s activities and the unveiling of a KTP plaque.  Location: June Callwood Park, 636 Fleet Street next to Fort York, Toronto.

Event #3:  5:00 to 7:00 PM an “after-work” park party where KTP supporters can mix with community members and June’s family and friends to celebrate this venue and the campaign, and be briefed on how our objectives will be pursued in the year ahead.  Location: June Callwood Park, 636 Fleet Street next to Fort York, Toronto.

It’s been said that wisdom follows kindness. June always led with kindness, and the wisdom followed. That’s our goal for these June 02 events — a gathering of people committed to ending child poverty, a day inspired by kindness and leading to wisdom.

For further information, or to register for one or all of the events, contact Gayle Duchene at gduchene@sympatico.ca. We look forward to sharing this exciting day of learning, planning and celebrating with you.

 

 

Toronto Faith Communities Want to Keep The Promise

by Michael Cooke

A coalition of Toronto faith communities is calling on all governments to commit to comprehensive, measurable poverty reduction goals. They know of which they speak. Many of them provide concrete services for those in need, filling gaps between poverty and service delivery, from food banks to arts programs, shelters and housing, to services for newcomers, children, youth and seniors, and more.

They recognize that a person with inadequate income, shelter and food also lacks dignity, power, and freedom. Children are the hardest hit. Child poverty leads to social isolation, and childhood development is often stunted. If governments are measured by how they treat the most vulnerable, then child poverty is our country’s greatest indictment.

Faith communities want to do more than fill gaps. They want to transform endemic systems that contribute to poverty. Every faith tradition brings wisdom to this work:

  • The Qur’an places the responsibility for an equitable society on both individuals and the community; this is indispensable to Islam.
  • Torah scholar and Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides emphasized that “The best way of giving is to help a person help themselves so that they may become self-supporting.”
  • One of the three main pillars of Sikhism taught by the founder Guru Nanak Dev is the concept of selfless service and generosity; we must share everything in charity with the less fortunate.
  • Ahimsa, or nonviolence—the first of Jainism’s five major vows—is to minimize harm, intentional or not, to living creatures, and must apply to public policy. Poverty is systemic, physical and spiritual violence.
  • The Hindu scripture commits us to the common good. ”One may amass wealth with hundreds of hands but one should also distribute it with thousands of hands.”
  • Jesus spoke to poverty more than any issue, calling us to help those suffering injustice. “Love your neighbour as yourself.” His followers understood: “If someone is lacking…and yet you do nothing to help them, what good is that? So faith, without works, is dead.”
  • Buddha emphasizes our similarity, instructing us to “have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering.”
  • Zarathustra said the good life is achieved through actions guided by wisdom, truth, righteous and help to those in need. “May the wise God grant radiant happiness to him who radiates happiness to others.”

Toronto faith communities are calling on Toronto City Council to endorse and implement a new Faith Communities Action Plan on Poverty Reduction that addresses employment, income, affordable housing, affordable transit, access to services, food security and fair taxation.

We invite Keep The Promise supporters to join in this action. Here’s how:

  1. Read the Faith Communities Charter and Action Plan on Poverty Reduction and sign it.
  1. Join the Faith in the City Symposium: “Faith, the City, & a Child Poverty Reduction Strategy” on Thursday, April 30 at City Hall