National conference on northern poverty?
Poverty in the North is a subject that is not often talked about.
Because of the lack of jobs, the high cost of living, large extended families living together, lack of housing, and other factors, many people in the North are living far below the poverty line. Even the level of income support does not begin to cover the true cost of living in the North.
Our saving grace is our tradition of sharing and compassion. People share their country food and other essentials with other people. Even then, in many places, you may have to buy the country food now. The cost of getting equipped and maintaining the equipment and supplies to harvest wildlife is extremely high.
Being poor reduces life expectancy; causes undue stress and sleeplessness; perpetuates addiction to tobacco and other drugs; destroys self-esteem; and promotes negative feelings.
Yet, people are still reluctant to talk about it. Every single day, people who are broke go on the local radio asking for loans, sometimes at 100 per cent interest, and sell furniture and other essentials at very low prices to buy food and cigarettes.
We need to talk more openly about poverty and start dealing with the problem and find sustainable solutions. We feel that a national conference dealing exclusively with the issue of poverty and finding answers is needed.
At some meetings up here, poverty is brought up as a side issue, and not given the attention that it deserves.
It is time that we gave the voiceless a chance to have their say. Let’s pull together and improve living conditions for the people of the North. We invite your comments and suggestions.
Marius P. Tungilik, Iqaluit
Peter Irniq, Ottawa
Jack Anawak, Ottawa