Katelyn Siggelkow

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I recently moved to the downtown eastside of Vancouver to learn from and experience the values, strengths and needs of this unique, diverse neighbourhood. I have been inspired by my many new friends here who live meaningful lives on a meagre welfare budget. I embarked on this challenge in solidarity with these friends and neighbours. To better understand their struggle, and to advocate for raising the welfare rates, I have committed to living on 3$ a day for 7 days. Here are the bogs I have written so far about my experience:… Read More

Dr. Danielle Duplassie

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I’m doing this challenge because I grew up in substantial poverty… and am one of the few people who have managed to get out of the poverty cycle. When I heard how low the rates were for social assistance in this province, my heart sunk. How is a person expected to be a fully functioning individual while living off so little. I’m doing this Challenge to bring awareness about the issue of poverty… and to bring my personal experience to the forefront so that I can help educate people about the complexities… Read More

Shila Avissa & Anna Brisco

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We’re in this together! Shila Avissa I’m an international student at UBC studying Bachelor’s of Social Work. https://m.facebook.com/shilaavissa https://twitter.com/shilaavissa http://instagram.com/shilaavissa Anna Brisco I’m a student at UBC Dietetics. http://instagram.com/briscoanna https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=81007694

Brittany Goud

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I currently live in Victoria, BC, though I am originally from Yellowknife, NT. I will be taking the challenge in solidarity and in allying with my clients. I am an articling student at The Law Centre in Victoria, BC. The Law Centre provides legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford a lawyer. Many of our clients are welfare recipients making their best efforts to get by on the current rates. I see people so busy surviving, they are left with little time or hope to change their positions. Though I can sympathize… Read More

Tara-lee Gardner

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I am of Sto:lo first nations ancestry. I have grown up and lived in Vancouver my whole life and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I am a graduate of the Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts Program taken at Native Education College and now have a fulfilling career in silversmithing. I am taking this challenge because I was raised by a single mother on welfare. So I know first hand how important it is for BC to raise the rates. $21/week for food is not enough. Growing up I tried to hide my poverty… Read More

Jay-Ann Gilfoy

Jay-Ann Gilfoy is a Senior Vice President at Vancity Savings Credit Union. Her current responsibilities include leading a transformation program including the replacement of Vancity’s core banking system. Jay-Ann has held executive positions and leadership roles in organizational development, change leadership and business transformation in financial services, government and private sector. She is a Human Resource professional by training and designation with many years of senior HR experience. Jay-Ann is passionate about health, leadership and family. Why I’m taking the challenge Health is truly the foundation of our communities and it starts… Read More

Chantelle Sutton

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I am a criminal defence lawyer in Victoria and many of my clients are on welfare. I am taking this challenge to, at least in part, experience a week like they might. My husband is also doing the challenge with me. https://www.facebook.com/chantellewelfarefood

Jacqueline Stein

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I’ve always considered myself to be a community-oriented individual and have been cognizant of the fact that, irrespective of economic status, we share these spaces and therefore must look out for the best interest of one another. And, yet, I tend to be rather mindless with my food spending. A fancy latte here, a pricey juice there… when you know where your next meal is coming from or, more importantly, that you have one coming, it’s easy to overlook the privilege that comes with a full plate of food. I’m participating in… Read More

Alan Yu

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I am from Vancouver, BC with a huge interest in technology, entertainment and the arts. Finance has always been a close topic to me which is a big factor on why I began blogging about it. (You can read more details at http://www.al6400.com/blog/about/). I love sharing information and knowledge that I discover on a daily basis in hopes to help others. I am taking the challenge because I consider myself an extremely thrifty and frugal shopper where initially the dollar amount of $21 a week doesn’t scare me. However, I recognize that… Read More

Bif Naked

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My Name is Bif Naked, and I am Taking The Welfare Food Challenge. I’m an International Recording Artist, Activist, and Volunteer, humbly and gratefully living in unceded Coast Salish Territory. I decided to take the “Welfare Food Challenge” partly because it was socio-politically important to me, and partly because I think it’s important to fight injustice and use my voice. And, the reality is: welfare rates in this province are simply inadequate. And that is an injustice. My parents were Civil Rights Activists and we were raised with Freedom Fighting in our… Read More

Breenz Cic

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I work in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver as an employment counsellor and have many clients on Income Assistance. I have also been on I.A for 1 month while I was in treatment years ago. My rent was $375 and I still had to go to the food bank so I could have half decent food to eat and this was back in 2008. https://www.facebook.com/Breenzcic

Christopher Porter and Emily Beam

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We are a married couple living in Southeast False Creek who are passionate about a number of environmental and social justice causes including addressing climate change, improving cycling infrastructure, and reducing poverty. We live a pretty simple lifestyle, but do enjoy splurging on food. We’re both vegan and buy local, organic food whenever possible. We joined the Welfare Food Challenge as an opportunity to help raise awareness about BC’s ridiculously low welfare rates. We hope the experience is more than just an exercise in self-sacrifice but also an opportunity to reconnect with… Read More

Donna Brady Fields

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Donna moved to Cranbrook in 1995 from northern Alberta where she had lived and worked for 20 years. She has always been passionate about community and the responsibility of every person playing a part in making it the best that it can be for everyone. As a mother and grandmother, wanting to make community and the world a better place for all is a high priority. Donna began working for United Way Cranbrook in January 2006. Working with a small non-profit with limited resources has been challenging, but with many rewards. Community… Read More

Darcy Victor

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I am a Ministry of Children and Family Development employee (probation officer and a family consultant) in the East Kootenay. I am doing the challenge in 2014 as motivation to help make change in our community. The challenge will allow me the opportunity to experience what so many of my clients tell me about – the struggles and stresses about food that they endure on a daily basis. Just shopping for groceries for the challenge was stressful enough on a budget of $21.00 and I worry about running out of food before… Read More

Derek Gent + Family

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Derek Gent has committed to take the Welfare Food Challenge together with his wife, Jennifer and their three children, Talula (12), Amelia (10) and Gus (9). In his day job, Derek is Executive Director of the Vancity Community Foundation, an arms-length charity associated with Vancity Credit Union in Vancouver, and he serves on several nonprofit Boards, including the coordinating committee for First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition as well as the Living Wage Campaign. The family lives in East Vancouver, where the kids all attend public school and they are… Read More

Emma Katchur-Marsh

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I live in Parksville on Vancouver Island, and I go to Ballenas Secondary School. I’m in grade 12 and I am a member of our school’s Civics Actions group (around five of us at my school are doing the challenge). I’m participating in order to raise awareness about the working poor in our community, which is a problem many of our students don’t even know exists. All the best to you.

Irene Lanzinger

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I am a long-time union activist and teacher. I began my teaching career in 1978 and have taught in Abbotsford and Vancouver. I also travelled overseas and taught in Japan and Saudi Arabia. I was very active in the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, serving as President of my local, the Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association from 1997 to 2000. I was a negotiator on numerous provincial bargaining teams and acted as co-chief negotiator for the public school teachers in the province. I was elected President of the BCTF in 2007 and served for three… Read More

Jasmine Ashmore

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I live in Parksville, BC, and go to Ballenas Secondary School (I am currently in grade 12!). Last year our “pacific actions club” did raise the rates and it was very successful! We were in the local paper and this year we have tons more willing to join the food challenge! As a kid my mom raised me as a single mother living on welfare. Even though it was over six years ago I remember money and meals were always a constant struggle. I believe Raise the Rates is a great cause… Read More

Jean de Dieu Hakizimana

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Jean works as a professional interpreter and translator of the Swahili, Kinyarwanda, French and Kirundi languages into English, in civil, criminal and immigration legal proceedings. He is also the founder of Neighbourhood Care International, a non-profit agency in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that provides social service and advocacy support primarily to immigrants and refugees from Africa. Earlier this year he started the pro bono African and Black Legal Clinic, which provides an accessible, safe place for people to come and discuss their legal issues. Why? I am doing this to be in solidarity… Read More

Jen Muranetz

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My name is Jen Muranetz and I am a mid-twenties journalist, an East Van resident, a hobby gardener, crafter, a sometimes-yogi and a socially conscious individual. I am taking part in the Welfare Food Challenge because I honestly have no clue what it’s like to live off of a $21 food budget for a week. This is one way for me to get a glimpse into the welfare system and solidify my values of equality. I’ve decided to document my journey on television to share my experience even further. I’ll be posting… Read More

Kate Hoffard

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I work in marketing in the tourism industry. I live in Vancouver. I’m taking on the Welfare Food Challenge because I’ve had family and friends experience the hard of poverty and want to bring awareness to this issue. https://twitter.com/katecrothers http://instagram.com/katehoffard

Kate Kysow

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I’m a 5th year Psychology student at UBC. I heard about this challenge through my TA, Chelsea, in an Intro to Social Welfare course. The reason I am doing this challenge is because I want people on Income Assistance to feel more included and looked after in our society. Learning about the barriers facing those on Income Assistance has really shocked me and I want to do my part in advocating for higher rates and a non-stigmatizing view of social welfare. I’m quite nervous to start this challenge, but am excited about… Read More

Kathy, Brent, Kris and Keith Buell

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My family and I are taking the challenge. I (Kathy) am the BC Nurses’ Union lobbyist for the North West and I am talking to the chair and BCNU communications as it would be good to get awareness about this issue in the North for sure. Our Terrace/Kitimat area has been exposed to an amazing increase in living costs over the last year which directly affects health outcomes for people as shelter is difficult to find at a reasonable rate.

Kiara Oleksiuk

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I am a grade 12 student at Ballenas Secondary school in Parksville, on Vancouver Island. I will be taking the Annual Welfare Food Challenge this year! I’m very excited to start! Last year I had a few friends who tried it and I couldn’t believe they were able to make it through the week on so little for food! This year, I’m going to see if I have what it takes to finish! I was planning my grocery list today with a friend and we were shocked at how much things cost… Read More

Laure Desjardins-Arevalo

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Why I’m taking the challenge? I’ve always been concerned by social justice issues and I think it’s unacceptable to have people living in poverty in Canada. Taking the challenge will help me raise awareness among my friends and I want to see what I can do on a $21 budget. It’s different to talk about it than to live it. I take many things for granted while families struggle with day to day things that I don’t even notice. The challenge has already made me do some lifestyle changes such as cancelling… Read More

Natascha Trautmann

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For 8 years I have been saying that there is not enough money for people on welfare, cpp and disability to eat proper food, nutritious food. Many eat pasta etc and yet hey spend millions on ad for us to loose weight. It takes a proper diet to loose weight. Malnutrition also causes weight gain http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/malnutrition-obesity_b_1324760.html and many more sites, I will do all I can. As a child I was malnourished. I went to neighbors and asked if I could join them for lunch and they invited me in. I had… Read More

Lou Black

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Live: Commercial Drive, Vancouver About myself: I’m optimistic, and a big fan of the work of Raise the Rates. I work as a Researcher and Policy Analyst with the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). I’m very physically active and as a result, am high maintenance in terms of caloric needs. Why I am doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I worked in shelters for a lot of years before taking my current job. I have watched hundreds of resourceful, well intended, and wonderful people struggle to sustain themselves on the pittance they receive from… Read More

Michelle Huang

Self-portrait Michelle Huang

I was born in Taiwan and came to Canada when I was in Grade 6. I speak Taiwanese, Mandarin and English. I’m in my early 30s. My first job was working as an Ice Skating Instructor for City of Burnaby at age of 17. I worked whenever I can find jobs. I have worked in BC, Alberta and Ontario, and also in Taiwan. Most of my work experiences were in the public sector, BC Parks, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Canada Customs, City of Waterloo, RCMP and Government of Taiwan. I was… Read More

Samantha Truong

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I am 19 years old and am a student at UBC majoring in social work. I work as a Resident Advisor at Totem Park residences at UBC and I have created a program to encourage over 2,000 1st year students and staff living in Totem Park to join this welfare food challenge with me or, write a letter or sign the petition. I was born in south east Vancouver however since September I have moved on to campus at UBC as a requirement of my job. It has been a fascinating two… Read More

Sarah Khan

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I am a staff lawyer at the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Part of my job is to represent people on welfare in cases challenging unfair welfare laws, policies and practices. I live in Vancouver. Welfare rates are far too low in BC for people to be able to live with any dignity. Every day I hear about the struggles that people on welfare face as a result of having virtually no money. I have joined this challenge as I admire the work of the Raise the Rates campaign in bringing attention… Read More

Shannon Quinn

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I work in the DTES and see first hand how difficult it is for so many individuals to access nutritious food. Many families and individuals struggle to meet their basic needs and I would like to help bring attention to the issue. Spending a mere $21.00 on groceries for a week was challenging in itself…getting through this week, will be incredibly difficult and I feel so much empathy for those who have choice but to live this way all the time. https://www.facebook.com/shannon.quinn.9400

Stacey Tyers

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Councillor, City of Terrace and Poverty Law Advocate, TDCSS I am taking the challenge because I was a teen mom on welfare. I spent a lot of time below the poverty line. It is so important to raise awareness and understanding of the difficulty for people living on so little. The expectation that they should simply be able to pull up their boot straps when you are faced daily with just needing to survive, is unrealistic. Shelter and food should be a basic human right. https://twitter.com/stacey0891 https://www.facebook.com/staceyforterrace

Suzanne Johnson

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I am a Registered Dietitian and member of the Penticton Band (Okanagan Nation). I live in the Penticton Indian Band community with my daughter and husband, who will not be participating in the challenge. Food insecurity is a significant issue for many First Nations people with roughly a third of families who are earning wages facing some degree of food insecurity. The number of individuals on limited income assistance is also significant and these individuals face food insecurity at almost double the rate of their wage-earning neighbours. I have been raised in… Read More

Sue Moen

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I’ve been involved in food security for 20 years – from the time we sat at tables as representatives of emergency food providers with health and civic authorities that made fun of us and didn’t know what we meant. I currently farm garden to feed my family as much as I can without going to stores, but even that requires cash inputs at some points in the year and we can’t grow all we need yet. I continue to work with the homeless population in Campbell River and know the challenges they… Read More

Tanja Cvekic

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I am an elementary school teacher and the current chair of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers ‘ Association Anti-Poverty Committee. I immigrated to Vancouver with my family in 1995. My reasons for taking this challenge are to increase awareness about poverty issues in BC, to remind myself how fortunate I am in my life and to spark conversations with colleagues and the community around the state of social programs in BC. https://twitter.com/TanjaCvekic

Tess (Theresa) Healy

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I live in Prince George BC. I work for Northern Health in the Population Health program and I also teach at UNBC. I am taking the challenge because I used to live on welfare and remember the shame and challenges that accompanied it. Yet, it is a support system, designed to help us when we are in trouble and look where I got to because the system was there for me. Regarding fears and worries taking the challenge: I have to travel a lot and worry about how I will be able… Read More

Victor Elkins

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Lives: Kitsilano About Me: I am the President of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). I am a long-time activist, and have spent more than two decades advocating for and defending public health care, workers’ rights, and human rights. I have been foster parenting many amazing children for the last 15 years. Why I’m doing the Challenge: I have witnessed the impacts that poverty has had on some of the kids I’ve fostered, and the disadvantages they begin their lives with as a result. They have come from homes where parents or grandparents… Read More

Victoria Lee

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I am a family medicine and public health and preventative medicine doctor. I currently serve as a Medical Health Officer for Fraser Health Authority in British Colombia; and co-chair BC Population Health Network and the Population Health Committee for Health Officers’ Council. Both groups focus on using population health approaches to improve health equity in BC. I am taking the challenge because poverty creates ill-health in our communities and makes people sick. When it comes to what matters to Canadians, healthcare often tops the list, but there are many factors outside the… Read More

Zeina Elkarsh

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I have been participating in the Welfare Food Challenge beginning from yesterday. I am currently in grade 12 going to Ballenass Secondary School in Parksville BC. I’m participating in this challenge as it raises awareness of a serious problem that we have and not many people consider. I’m proud to be part of this 🙂 !