Participant bio – Sean Kirkham
Name: Sean Kirkham
About myself: I was born 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle on the scenic Mackenzie River and grew up in Montreal. My lifelong adventure for travel began at age 16 when I ran away from home to New York City where I spent the next fifteen years. No stranger to controversy, I have been written about extensively by way of my involvement in the nightlife industry and made the leap to television and the movies with cameo appearances in Paris is Burning, HBOs Sex and the City and the Limelight Documentary by Billy Corben. I currently lives with my spouse and three dogs in a tear-down in Kits and am a student at Simon Fraser University studying criminology and run a non-profit society focusing on public arts, art therapy and restorative justice.
Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I like thousands of other Vancouverites, live hand to mouth. My take-home at the end of the day is barely enough to pay my rent, put food on my table and take care of the never-ending tsunami of bills that keep coming…cable, insurance, phone etc…
How do you make a dollar stretch when there’s nothing left at the end of the day? When we relocated from the East Coast to Vancouver in the pursuit of a dream, we found the stark reality of the situation was unrealistic rents, high food costs, and a competitive labour market saturated with low paying jobs.
My vision when I conceptualized CFCDI was primarily focused on giving an opportunity for creativity to flourish – for people who don’t necessarily have a create outlet, or the funding, or accessibility to developing their artistic skills. Because of how I grew up, I experienced first hand the difficulties of trying to create art while living erratically. When a person isn’t grounded, they can’t be fully sound mentally, I wasn’t. When someone isn’t sound mentally, it is hard for them to survive in the public eye.
Raising welfare rates to a level that’s equal to or above the cost of living is paramount to give people the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.