Filmmaker sells possessions to help families stay afloat

A Whitehorse resident is selling most of his worldly possessions this weekend to help fund a guaranteed income experiment.

A Whitehorse resident is selling most of his worldly possessions this weekend to help fund a guaranteed income experiment.

On Saturday, everything must go: a truck, snowmobile, mountain bike, computer, canoe, clothing and camping gear are among the many items Jayden Soroka is getting rid of.

He wants to raise money in order to recreate a groundbreaking social experiment from the 1970s that took place in Dauphin, Manitoba.

Known as the Mincome program, families in the small community were provided with a guaranteed income for four years and closely monitored during that time.

A report published in 2011 concluded that mothers spent more time with their newborns, students showed higher test scores and there were fewer visits to the hospital, among other positive impacts.

Soroka is partnering with Buffalo Gal Pictures in Manitoba and Flat Tires Films here in the Yukon to follow three Canadian families for a year and produce a documentary on their experiences.

The families will keep receiving welfare while their incomes are bumped to just above the poverty line, Soroka said.

The funding will be based around their needs and will be adjusted accordingly.

He believes that will require between $40,000 and $50,000, which he and the documentary’s director will raise from estate sales and help from friends and relatives.

Soroka said he won’t miss any of the items he sells.

“I looked around my place and there are a lot of things in my life that just collect dust,” he said.

“They’re things that I no longer need so why own them? It’s an easy choice between putting that money into my bank account or giving it to families in need.

“To me that’s empowering.”

Soroka, who will produce the documentary, said he’s been getting help from various agencies around the country to find the perfect families for the project.

They’ve looked a little closer at P.E.I. and Nunavut because both jurisdictions have been working on their own guaranteed income models, he said.

Pangnirtung, Nunavut is one of the communities Soroka mentioned because of its high levels of poverty.

Guaranteed income means working families can stop relying on income support programs and spend the money they earn on more important priorities, such as housing, health care and education, he added.

He wants people to witness what it’s like to be outside of poverty in those places.

“The families know that every month, they have a guaranteed amount of money,” he said.

“They’ll still be receiving welfare, we’ll just be topping them up. We want to give people the chance to be a family again, to have stability.

“Welfare is broken. This is a better system.”

Welfare benefits are often reduced dollar-for-dollar for low-income recipients who earn more money, and that’s a problem, Soroka said. This project would allow families to keep a lot of the money they earn.

“If you want to work hard, you’re going to receive money and then you can be better off,” he said.

“When you make and spend your own money, it gives people their dignity back.”

After the project is fully funded for development, the plan is to meet between four to six candidate families in person, create a trailer for broadcasters and hopefully go into production next spring.

Soroka wasn’t sure if one of the families would be from the Yukon, but he said Whitehorse could really benefit from a project like this.

“Can you imagine if people gathered at Shipyards Park once a year and brought all the stuff they didn’t want anymore?” he asked.

“Then we could give money directly to families in need. We would change people’s lives.”

Soroka’s living estate sale will be held tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 125 Normandy Road.

Contact Myles Dolphin at