Helping the poor speak up

The story of our life is not our life, it is our story. 

This was the motto of the “Storytelling, Leadership and Advocacy” training offered by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, which I had the chance to attend this past summer.

Eight well-attended sessions offered each participant a chance to review the story of his or her life in order to prepare a 10-minute presentation. We were able to attend various presentations, including those from BYTE, a youth organization, government officials and other groups. But the presentation that impressed me most was that of Els Lundgard, an outstanding speaker, who explained how to get our message across to the media. I believe that for people living below the poverty line, it is important to know how to talk to the media unambiguously in order to denounce, among other things, the injustices we suffer in order to improve our situation. Els gave us good tips for communicating clearly.

The material provided for the training was adequate and helped us to see our story more clearly. Questions such as, “What is my favorite animal? Who do I admire? What frustrates me?” may seem insignificant to you. Well, I now realize that I have characteristics similar to those of my favorite animal, the horse. I realize that the people I admire have qualities that I have, or which I aspire to. Putting on paper what frustrates me allows me to get out frustration and gives me a different perspective of the situation. I need perspective, strength and determination to see the light at the end of the tunnel after 20 years of living with invisible chronic pain and knowing that a cure is available in private clinics but is not covered by our Yukon health insurance.

In fact, whether we are poor because of an illness, alcoholism, drug use, chronic trauma caused by residential schools, homelessness or the like, we feel judged, helpless and alone in our pain.

I found this training to help recognize my values (other than monetary) as well as the achievements in my story. It encourages me to integrate into the community, to be creative, to feel included and to serve others as much as I am able to.

The trainer Maureen, and her assistants Kery and Maya, were very human and helped us see the best in us. In addition, we received $150 if we attended all sessions. I hope that YAPC will get the funds to continue offering this very useful training to low-income people. I would even suggest that its duration be extended.

Jacqueline Vigneux

Whitehorse

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