Integration of poor people into the larger community is key to eradicating poverty in Canada, says Claudette Bradshaw, a former federal Liberal MP who served in the federal cabinet and was the federal co-ordinator for homelessness.
In most ways, those living in poverty are no different from those who aren't, Bradshaw said in an interview with Information Morning Moncton.
"They are like you and me ... they are in the same community, they are at the same schools," said Bradshaw, the former MP for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe.
"They want what you want."
Bradshaw, a longtime activist, was speaking on the 25th anniversary of the United Nations declaration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Bradshaw opened the first food bank in Moncton and founded Headstart Early Family Intervention Centre.
Asked Wednesday how she felt about having a day for eradicating poverty, Bradshaw said she has a different outlook on it now than she did then.
"If you would have asked me that when I opened up the first food bank I would have told you how mad I was that we had to do that, OK? Now that I've matured a little bit, and my hair is a little bit whiter, and my body is a little bit wider, I will say to you it's all the time."
Many stories of success, sadness
Bradshaw said she used to go to work at Headstart and see children coming in hungry. She'd never thought Moncton would need a food bank.
"If I ever wrote a book on what I lived and stories that I seen and stuff that I heard, people would think ... no that's not happening in my city, but it is happening in your city."
Bradshaw said many stories have stayed with her over the years, but the one she recalls the most is a mother of four children who dreamed of going to university and realized her dream as a mature student.
"We don't realize the potential. When you show them love, when you show them you care … they're special."
Bradshaw said the struggle at Headstart was always wondering if it should stick with core programming or do more. She added she never regretted doing more.
"The need was so big."
What made her most proud was seeing parents being able to care for their families after getting some help.