Inspired by June Callwood

June described Canadian children living in poverty as the country’s ‘invisible citizens’. She knew what she was talking about. She knew firsthand how it felt to be one of them.

Born in Chatham, Ontario, she was forced to quit school at 15 in order to help support her impoverished family. She eventually became a journalist and wrote for various newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail where she met and then married Trent Frayne, also a journalist.

They raised four children. Their youngest, Casey, was only 20 when he was killed by a drunk driver while returning home from Queen’s University. Casey’s death scarred June for the rest of her life.

Her first public step into social activism occurred unexpectedly in 1968. Toronto’s Yorkville district was then a popular hangout for wannabe hippies, and June happened to be there one night when a riot started. Tension was high and June feared the police would use violence to impose peace. She stepped boldly between the police and the crowd, many of whom were just young tourists from the suburbs. A photo from the Toronto Star archives shows her staring defiantly at the camera from the back of a paddy wagon before she was hauled away.