Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 94

Dear Colleagues, 

The provincial election is over and we were able to use our Income Solutions advocacy to raise the issue of basic income and living wage at many All Candidate Debates. We shall continue to hold space for solidarity on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Power is held accountable within and outside of the ballot box. We shall continue to raise our rural voices and amplify the voices of the most vulnerable in our communities.

This month is Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month. We recognize the rich history of Indigenous Peoples, the resilience of Indigenous communities and the work being done towards truth and reconciliation. This month, take the time to learn and explore Indigenous history. Access resources and join community activities.

  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: visit their education hub for additional learning and teaching resources.
  • Indigenous People’s Day – Sacred Fire June 21st, 
  • Giiwe Youth-In-Transition and Housing Sharing Circles invites Indigenous and Non-Indigenous partners to join the upcoming Giiwe in-person circle. Friday, June, 17th, 10am-2pm, Traditional Fire at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority near Inglis Falls. People are welcome to come and bring colleagues, family and friends. Lunch is potluck and Nadia Ellis (is coordinating all donations.   (nadia.ellis@grey.ca
  • Anishinaabe Giizhigad (Anishinaabe Day) on June 6. To learn more about this new holiday, have a read via Anishinabek News.

We recognize and celebrate the 2SLGBTQI+ community in Grey Bruce. The Grey Bruce Pride have pulled together a list of events throughout the two counties.



  • Ontario government support: people who are affected by a fire (and other circumstances), who are not being supported by OW or ODSP can apply for financial support (under $1,000) at: https://ea.mcss.gov.on.ca/
  • Owen Sound Water Rates:  according to a recent study, the average annual residential Owen Sound water/wastewater bill (for 200 cubic metres of consumption) was $1,344 in 2020, in line with the average for other municipalities with water services in Grey Bruce ($1,371). Water and wastewater surcharge rates have been raised which will impact on many people’s ability to pay bills quarterly. However, people can now negotiate monthly payments to make it easier to make payments. 


  • YMCA Emergency Shelter: ·        
    • In 2019, the YMCA provided 2,569 nights of shelter with 214 nights of shelter/month.
    • In 2020, the YMCA provided 6,513 nights of shelter with 543 nights of shelter/month.
    •  In 2021, the YMCA provided 8,380 nights of shelter with 698 nights of shelter/month.        
    • In Jan-Apr 2022, the YMCA provided 3,875 nights of shelter with 968 nights of shelter/month. 
  • Cooling Stations are open in Grey County and Bruce County: contact 211 for the latest listing. 
  • Hanover Fire Response: community partners continue to provide support for tenants who are homeless after the fire. The trauma of the event is still being felt by tenants as expressed in this first person account. But the community and social service partners are doing their best to assist people to find shelter and recover. 
  • People impacted by the fire should contact 2-1-1 for support. These needs will be channeled to the appropriate service agency. 


Recent data collected at Foodbrucegrey.com (20 May 2022): 

  • 46,000 community meals were distributed in the 1st quarter of 2022. This is a slight increase over 2021 but with less organizations providing meals. Community meal programs are busier than anytime in the last 20 months. This is driven by the cost of housing and living right now.
  • 21,000 kilograms of food was diverted under food rescue so far in 2022. 17,000 kilograms were diverted in 2021. Please reach out to Paul Wagenaar or Jill Umbach to assist in onboarding new retailers.
  • 55,000 kilograms of food was distributed by food banks. This is a 32% increase over the same period in 2021.
  • 8,000 volunteer hours were donated in the 1st quarter of 2022. Volunteers are largely seniors and they are doing an incredible job. Reach out and thank these volunteers.
  • Community gardens are in the planning and preparation stages for summer production. Food donations and volunteers are tracked for these important programs as well.

Stay well, Jill

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 63

Dear Colleagues, 

The Poverty Task Force offers our deep condolences and stand in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, with all residential school survivors, and with all of our Indigenous friends and neighbours who continue to face intergenerational trauma and oppression based on deeply rooted, systemic colonial legacies.

This legacy of life-threatening discrimination against Indigenous peoples is threaded throughout our history and continues today. The last residential school closed in 1996, and many of the survivors of the 139 schools that existed across Canada are alive today, still dealing with the trauma that was inflicted on them as children. 

Our colleague, Diane Giroux from M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre has written to community partners –  

“Our shared journey must consist of reconciliation as we strive to bring healing to all. Your engagement in Giiwe is one of these appreciated reconciliation gestures. 

At our May 21st Giiwe Sharing Circle, a draft list of recommendations that could be implemented within agencies and organizations was shared.  This document is still a work in progress as we consult with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Teachers, Healers and the community to bring it to completion. 

Please consider addressing one or two of these in the coming weeks. Each gesture is a contribution to healing and giving hope. There needs to be hope.” [email povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com for a copy of the recommendations]

Merci and Miigwetch to Diane for sharing her words of action and healing.  We cannot end poverty without addressing Indigenous-specific racism through meaningful learning, advocacy, and reconciliation. 

  • M’Wikwedong IFC is inviting the community to join them for a come-and-go ceremony and sacred fire for all the children found in Kamloops, BC on Friday, June 4th from 11am-2:30pm. 
  • For those who need support right now, or anytime in the future. Please call National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, 1-866-925-4419 

Today, the Core Working Group launched the National Action Plan on MMIWG and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People.  The plan has been co-developed with  the National Family and Survivors Circle and 8 sub-working groups. The plan will drive transformative change to end systemic racism and violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women/girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples.

  • The National Action Plan responds to the findings of and 231 Calls for Justice from the 2019 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the 62 Calls for Miskotahâ (Michif word for change) from the Métis Perspectives report.
  • Today also marks the  2nd anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the MMIW National Inquiry
  • The National Inquiry has determined that colonial structures and policies are persistent in Canada and constitute a root cause of the violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 
  • The residential school system is part of the systemic violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. 
  • The report highlights that the thousands of truths shared before the National Inquiry reinforce the existence of acts of genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people:
  • The federal government announced investments in excess of $18 billion in the 2021 budget over the next 5 years to improve the quality of life, advance reconciliation and create new opportunities for people living in Indigenous communities.

National Indigenous History Month is a time for all of us – Indigenous, non-Indigenous and newcomers – to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions, and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.   

National Pride Month Grey Bruce Pride has planned a wide range of activities this month. Go to their Facebook page for more details. Some activities include 

  • exploring 2SLGBTQQIAP+ terms each day
  • education material and self-discovery pieces shall be posted daily
  • car rally on June 27th 
  • identifying businesses as as pride safe spaces
  • collecting pride letters to support 2SLGBTQQIAP+ members who are struggling 


  • Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund The Federal government launched a $291 million loan fund for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. The loans range from $25,000 to $250,000. This is part of the Black Entrepreneurship Program.  


  • Remote learning will continue for the remainder of the school year, the Ontario Government announced. This will allow the province to continue its focus on accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations to support a safer summer and return to in-person learning in September for the 2021-22 school year.  
  • Sick Kids-led study (Feb 2021) found more than 70% of children aged 2 to 18 years expressed feeling lonely, overwhelmed, sleepless, worried, sad, irritable, anxious or stressed during the first wave, with isolation posing a significant risk factor. 
  • Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced an $80 million fund for school boards to hire up to 1,000 additional mental health workers for the next two years. Over $31 million was announced for support to schools for 2021-2022. 


  • Intersectional Action Fund is a federal grant that usually goes to organizations outside of the health sector to 
    • identify priority areas for collective action on social determinants of health (SDOH) and wellbeing
    • foster transformative partnerships to facilitate action on SDOH and wellbeing and build capacity to take action on SDOH and wellbeing. 
    • projects funded range from $25K-250K for 1 year. 
    • Application Deadline: July 12, 2021 at 3:00pm EDT. Funding starts no earlier than Fall 2021.

 Stay well, Jill