Member Spotlight: We’re Together Ending Poverty (WTEP) – Associate Member (April 2019)

Interviewer: Jennah Martens-Forrester, CommunityWise

Interviewees: Erin Trout and Carmen Nashchuk, WTEP

What is the name of your organization?

We’re Together Ending Poverty

Can you summarize what your organization’s main objectives are? What are the mission/vision/values that guide your organization?

We are a diverse, grassroots group of activists who are working to educate and empower ourselves and others to take action on the root causes of poverty. We also want to create mutually supportive relationships that encompass learning and sharing. We want to transcend practices of oppression in our relationships. We welcome all who self-identify as women or non-binary. Our values are as follows:

      • We believe charity does not solve the root causes of poverty
      • We believe that to understand the root causes of poverty we need to examine our society from many different perspectives including but not limited to: gender, race, class, ability, age and sexual orientation
      • We believe diverse voices of lived experiences need to be central to making change
      • We believe the concentration of wealth in a few hands, locally and globally, and the continued existence of patriarchal and classist attitudes and practices are fundamental causes of poverty
      • We believe working for permanent systemic changes in our political, economic and social systems to improve the lives of those living in poverty benefits everyone
      • We believe in equity, which means we strive for programs such as, but not limited to universal childcare, a living wage for everyone, and affordable housing.

When was your organization founded / How long have you been doing this work?

In early 2008.

How has your organization changed over time?

We have kept working on our analysis of oppression and intersectionality and we are striving to become more inclusive.

What lead to the creation of this organization?

In late 2007 and early 2008, there was a project in Calgary called Poverty Talks. The project held discussion groups throughout the city to discuss issues of poverty. One of those groups was held at the Women’s Centre of Calgary and at the end of that sessions one of the participants said we shouldn’t end the discussion here, we should form a women’s group because poverty effects women differentially. Women who were interested kept meeting and together formed Women Together Ending Poverty.  In late spring 2018 the group helped organize a grab inclusive workshop alongside Skipping Stone and moved to welcome all who self-identify as women, as over the years the group has felt that inclusivity is an important part of grassroots advocacy efforts and is cognizant of the personalized and fluid nature of gender identity.  This has led to WTEP’s name change from Women Together Ending Poverty to We’re Together Ending Poverty and is welcoming to those who identify as non-binary as of January 2019.

What is it like to work with WTEP? What is a typical day for you?

It has been both humbling and inspiring to be surrounded by a group of people with such diverse skill sets accompanied with the motivation and desire to make change around the root issues of poverty on a grassroots level. The amount of collaboration and support that unfolds within WTEP meetings and otherwise has been the most influential aspect of this journey, and am grateful for the relationships and connects that have been created within the group and Calgary communities.

As of right now the day-to-day responsibilities include gathering in-depth research through an anti-oppressive and gendered-lens on issues of poverty within Alberta and Calgary contexts.  Expanding social media outlets to be able to provide information around poverty to more Calgarians.  Assisting with and developing inclusive workshops for Calgarians around issues of poverty in the city, such as areas of colonization and basic income.

What are some challenges you encounter working with WTEP?

It is important to understand that WTEP is a group of volunteers that have come together to advocate around the root causes of poverty, and that is only one aspect of our individual lives.  There are many challenges in being able to balance other aspects of our lives with the responsibilities and efforts associated with WTEP, and is why creating momentum through knowledge, information, and action with scarce resources has been WTEP’s main challenge this year.  Therefore, WTEP continues to build relationships and collaborations with other organizations and community members to be able to carry out the appropriate advocacy efforts in supporting those living in poverty.

How has being a member of CommunityWise impacted the work done by your organization?

CommunityWise has provided great meeting space for workshops and for coalitions that we have been a part of. We have also used the space for special events which have allowed us to pull together different groups of people. Over the last few years, the existence of the Anti-Racism Organizational Change Project has really impacted our work and made us more conscious of the need to be more inclusive than we are.

Are there any new projects/initiatives you are working on at the moment?

WTEP is currently working alongside RAM in collecting information from Alberta Political parties through surveys on issues around rent control and future efforts around social supports for those living in poverty – considering future elections.

WTEP is also working on a Basic Income Workshop for community members held at CommunityWise at the end of April, 2019, with the goal of holding future workshops around Basic Income in the fall.

Is your organization hosting any events or campaigns coming up soon that people might be interested in?

We encourage people to contact the Renters Action Movement and find out how they can support the Rent Control Campaign and tenants’ rights. We also encourage people to contact WTEP if they are interested in the Calgary Anti-Oppression Network.

What can the community do to best help support your organization and the work you do?

They can join WTEP, RAM, and/or the Calgary Anti-Oppression Network. They can also donate money or contribute ideas!

Where can people go for more information about your organization?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wtepyyc/

Email: wtepyyc@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.