lets make affluence history

You can’t hide hunger. Even in the wealthiest cities in the world you can see it. The Rundle Memorial United Church in Banff has a food pantry…

You can’t hide hunger. Even in the wealthiest cities in the world you can see it. The Rundle Memorial United Church in Banff has a food pantry to meet the needs of their poor.

I have helped serve bowls of soup at the Catholic Worker’s St. Joseph House on East First Street in lower Manhattan not all that many blocks from Wall Street.

Surely the good burghers of Davos, the Swiss resort town where global economic elites along with political leaders, like Tony Blair, gathered this past week for the World Economic Forum, have a soup kitchen or emergency food program to serve their needy.

I wonder how much thought, though, those gathered for the forum gave to basic problems like hunger, which afflict our planet.

Did they just repeat more of the same barren cant we have heard all too often from there: more economic growth will solve all our problems?

Or, free the markets from government constraint and all will be well?

Karl Polanyi, in his seminal work The Great Transformation, remarked more than half a century ago that, “To allow the market mechanism to be the sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment would result in the demolition of society.”

We can see the cracks widening in the façade of the 20th-century notion of progress.

Bigger isn’t necessarily better. More doesn’t always improve life.

Readers of this paper know that discussions have begun to ascertain the need for a full-fledged food bank here in Whitehorse.

No one around the tables at a community consultation in the basement of Whitehorse United Church last Tuesday evening doubted the existence of hunger here in the Yukon.

Meals served every day by either the Salvation Army, the weekend soup kitchen at CYO Hall or the Outreach van witness very concretely to that reality.

The boxes and bags of emergency food supplies leaving Maryhouse and Salvation Army every week support this.

A host of other local program providing regular or occasional meals as part of their service to needy clientele further fill out this picture.

How to best address the question of the hunger among us remains a question.

Hopefully, in the next couple of months the outline of a strategy will emerge.

In a side conversation at the table, one young participant reflected on the roots of the problem.

She recalled the Make Poverty History campaign, which demanded that our political leaders work towards this end by forgiving debts, ending child poverty and a host of other remedies.

The real problem, though, she mused was the every expanding affluence of a minority of the world’s population, which mired the rest in poverty.

For her a Make Affluence History campaign made more sense.

Every year, the Canadian International Development Agency promotes a week of reflection on our role in international development.

This coming Sunday marks the beginning of International Development Week.

The theme this year is: “Equally between women and men. To have a voice. To have a choice.”

We know that gender inequality intensifies poverty here and abroad. Measures taken towards insuring gender equality then CIDA offers on its website, would improve “a country’s ability to govern effectively, to grow sustainably, to reduce poverty, and to provide for peoples’ well-being.”

Minister of International Co-operation Josée Verner reinforced the importance of equality between women and men in a speech last October when she stressed: “In many developing countries, experience has shown that in order to reduce poverty, create wealth, and safeguard human rights, nothing is more effective than concrete actions that permit women to take advantage of their great potential.”

Maybe this then should be the first plank in a Make Affluence History campaign.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patti Balsillie will be running for the mayor’s seat in Whitehorse in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Submitted)
Balsillie aims to serve as city’s mayor

Says she has the time, skill set to serve in full-time role

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton sits on the opposition side of the legislative assembly on March 8 after announcing his resignation from the Liberal party earlier that day. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Don Hutton resigns from Liberal caucus; endorses NDP leadership

Hutton said his concerns about alcohol abuse and addictions have gone unaddressed

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read