Week of Action Against Poverty in Kenora, Ontario builds relationships, finds solutions

The tenth annual Week of Action Against Poverty, in Kenora, will wrap up Saturday, with the completion of more than 30 community-based projects.

"Money isn't the only dimension to poverty" says one of the week's key organizers

Since the annual Week of Action Against Poverty began 10 years ago in Kenora, the city has successfully launched a chapter of Habitat for Humanity and now has a soup kitchen serving a hot meal everyday. (Armando Babani/EPA)

The tenth annual Week of Action Against Poverty in Kenora will wrap up Saturday, with the completion of more than 30 community-based projects.

Families, schools, banks, businesses, churches, social agencies - almost everyone in the northwestern Ontario city of approximately 15,000 takes part. The city council even makes a formal declaration of the week.

"Literally, we are looking around and seeing where things have changed out of these projects," says Nan Normand, an executive member of Making Kenora Home, and one of the organizers of the week of action.

"We monitor for results. It's not just a chat and forget about it."

The northwestern Ontario city of Kenora is marking its tenth annual Week of Action Against poverty. Almost everyone in the city of approximately 15, 000 seems to take part. (Week of Action Against Poverty/Facebook)

In the past 10 years, a chapter of Habitat for Humanity has been set up and two builds conducted and soup kitchens now serve hot food every day.

The week is "really not that organized which is why it's a wonderful Christmassy type event. We let people pick their own events," said Normand, pointing to the Miles of Mittens campaign, which saw a chain of mittens, starting at city hall and stretching nearly a kilometre through the community or the clothing drives, which collect much-needed socks and underwear.

But Normand believes the partnerships forged during the week are the real benefit.

"Money isn't the only dimension to poverty, and you are not going to get out of a poverty cycle unless you have connections with other areas and other people and other viewpoints and so it always around relationships."

Nan Normand is an executive member of Making Kenora Home, and one of the key organizers of the annual Week of Action Against Poverty (Nan Normand)

In many cases those relationships form across generations, she said, citing the work of Keewatin Public School. The students made Valentine bags for every person at the emergency shelter and Fellowship Centre "which was wonderful and sweet. The patrons were very pleased to get them, complete with individual Valentines from all of the students."

Normand would like to think one day there won't be the need for a Week of Action Against Poverty but, in the meantime, it's important to keep "the issue in our awareness, and makes us realize it's not just something you pass off to the government. 'Oh yes. Poverty is bad. The government should solve it."

"The solution always comes from individuals."