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Looking Out/Looking In: Women, Poverty and Public Policy A Photovoice Project Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 2006 Sponsored by the Saskatoon Antipoverty Coalition.

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Presentation on theme: "Looking Out/Looking In: Women, Poverty and Public Policy A Photovoice Project Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 2006 Sponsored by the Saskatoon Antipoverty Coalition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Looking Out/Looking In: Women, Poverty and Public Policy A Photovoice Project Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 2006 Sponsored by the Saskatoon Antipoverty Coalition & the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence

2 “Looking Out/Looking In” Low income women are often subject to scrutiny and surveillance by others. In this project we were behind the lens, not under the lens. We looked in at our own experiences and out at the world from our own perspectives. We look out for all the obstacles that come from living in poverty and we look for all the good things that keep us going. We encourage people in communities to look out for each other, by developing just policies and treating everyone with dignity and respect. We are looking for change and hoping to make a difference. Exploring multiple meanings It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood Lynn*, 2006

3 Looking for an Integrated Strategy to End Poverty Our goal in this project is to use our words and photographs to raise public awareness and influence public policies to reduce poverty and improve the conditions of women’s lives. Why Are We Not Allowed to Know Our Rights, Dawn McGraw* 2006

4 Saskatoon Photovoice Photographers* Butterfly Russell* Dawn McGraw* Elaine Gamble Genevieve Jones* Lynn* *Some of the women have chosen pseudonyms to protect their anonymity. Mary Jane* Moe S.* Nadia Smith Virginia Beebe

5 Saskatoon Photovoice Committee Vanessa Charles, Saskatoon Antipoverty Coalition Debbie Frost, National Antipoverty Organization Kathryn Green, University of Saskatchewan, Department of Community Health & Epidemiology Lorraine Marquis, Saskatoon Health Region Carolyn Rogers, Saskatoon Antipoverty Coalition Kay Willson, Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence

6 Being in Poverty Hurts! Genevieve Jones*, 2006 The pain and stress affect all areas of one’s life. It is often acted out in destructive ways including: inability to trust and build support—friends or community programs, etc. — through addictions, child abuse of all kinds, and/or spouse abuse.

7 It’s Like You’re Handicapped Elaine Gamble, 2006 This is a picture of my daughter’s prosthetic limb. It helps her overcome her limitations. When you’re living in poverty it is like you are handicapped because there are so many restrictions, so many limitations. Someone can go in the store and buy a magazine or a shirt that they need for their kid. They can go ahead and buy it, but you can’t, because you have to think about other things. You have to think, ‘Well, if I buy that, then I can’t pay my phone bill. If I buy that, then I can’t get this for my kid.’ You’re always shortchanging. Sometimes my daughter needs something at school—a book fair or school function. She can’t go or participate because I had to buy Pampers or wipes for the baby instead.

8 Waiting by the Phone Lynn*, 2006 Surviving below the poverty line means being isolated from loved ones in good times and bad. I do not have any money to put toward long distance calls. I cannot reciprocate; I just get calls when other people feel like calling.

9 Vacation?! Genevieve Jones*, 2006 Places like this— McNally Robinson, the public libraries, the Mendel and other art galleries, the University Geology Building—are my usual vacation spots. And closer to home when I'm not feeling well. Out of city, or province, or country are not things I have money for, unless I choose not to eat properly, or make other such sacrifices.

10 Closets/Emptiness Dawn McGraw*, 2006 This is my son’s closet. My kids don’t have a lot of clothes and certainly not expensive clothes. What’s there is all too small for him. It’s just empty, like the hearts of our children sometimes. The closets have no doors. Too many tenants in the past have damaged the doors, so now tenants are not allowed to have them.

11 TV and a Phone Mary Jane*, 2006 If you are on assistance, a phone is a luxury, a TV is a luxury. And if you have cable TV, it is an extreme luxury. Your TV provides you with entertainment. You can’t afford to go out to a movie. The only way I got a phone was I was in a relationship where I was in danger, so I had to have some way of calling for help.

12 “Feeling good about yourself is essential to feeling good about life, but sometimes people are forced to do things that take away from their self-respect.” One day I saw someone approach this garbage can, take out a discarded bag and eat the garbage inside. I was shocked, and embarrassed for the person. I had never seen anyone eat from a garbage can before. I live in poverty but I have not yet been hungry enough or desperate enough to eat from a garbage can. I thought about how quickly and easily a person’s life circumstances can change to where any one of us could be forced to find our lunch in this way. There are people in the world who, every day, are forced to do such a thing. How good is that for one’s self-respect? Nadia, 2006

13 All I Want for Christmas is to Participate Lynn*, 2006 I’m not able to buy a present for a niece or nephew and I also don’t get any presents because people don’t want to make me feel bad or obligated to buy something for them.

14 Bad Weather Elaine Gamble, 2006 This is a picture of me driving out to my reserve to try to get financial aid because my power and my rent was due. My husband lost his job and we’re having a really hard financial time. I had to take my kids on the highway in this kind of weather because if I didn’t, my power was going to get cut off and I wasn’t going to have a place to live with my children. It was a gamble to go out because I wasn’t guaranteed anything, and, in fact, I didn’t receive anything.

15 Suicide Prevention Lynn*, 2006 I live alone and often suffer from depression and yet I am not allowed enough money to feed and care for my ‘antidepressant.’ If I commit suicide, who will take care of her?

16 I tried for seven years to change the pet policy so I could have a cat. And they would not allow it. They felt if the mentally ill had cats, they would run around the neighbourhood and end up at the SPCA. You have all these stereotypes. I complained and I tried and tried. A few years later they phoned me up and said that I could have a guinea pig. I would have preferred to have a cat but that’s what I was allowed to have. They’re a lot of fun. Little Pickles and Punkin Smith*, 2006

17 The Empty Shopping Cart Butterfly Russell*, 2006 To me the empty shopping cart is symbolic. A shopping cart should be full of groceries and have a little kid bouncing up and down in the seat. But for many, every time they look at a grocery cart they feel guilty because they don’t have enough money to fill it up with groceries. And the other thing I think when I look at a grocery cart is, ‘Thank God I’m not the one who’s got all my worldly possessions in it.’ Or I could be wandering up and down back alleys picking up pop bottles. So the shopping cart has a lot of meanings.

18 Feed or Bleed Lynn*, 2006 The choice is clear. If I don’t eat – no one will know. If I don’t buy sanitary supplies – everyone will know. I already use $110 toward extra rent money needed, out of the $210 that I have to live on.

19 The Right To Food Mary Jane*, 2006 If you know your Human Rights Code, you can use that, ’cause the Human Rights Code says that the government has to provide an adequate amount of money for food, clothing, and shelter. Go to the line for yourself. Get some support. And if you have to, get a lawyer, ’cause there are lawyers that will take you on. Go to them. It’s hard and sometimes you feel like crap. But you’ve got rights. You’ve got to go for it. Don’t give up. That’s the only way things are going to change.

20 Fifty Miles Away Butterfly Russell*, 2006 These are all the things that I can get for nothing at the library—the tapes, the books, the movies. But the bus fare costs me $4.50 and I am living on a budget of $6 a day. It feels like the library might as well be fifty miles away when you don’t have enough money for bus fare to get there. I sit on the Get on the Bus Coalition. We’re trying to make some changes so that people who are on assistance will be able to get a discounted bus pass for $15.

21 Comfortable Shoes/ Scared For My Life Lynn*, 2006 If I want to go out at night, I walk. Most people do not want their mother/ daughter/sister/wife walking in the streets after dark, but it is okay for women in poverty.

22 Getting to the Bus Stop Butterfly Russell*, 2006 This is outside my apartment block and I stuck my cane in there because I wanted that to be part of the picture. Unfortunately I can’t afford to run a car and so I have to walk up to the bus stop all year round. And in weather conditions like that, the bus stop may as well be two miles away because I feel that I can’t get there. I am scared of falling. I just wish that I had a car.

23 Povertymobile Dawn McGraw*, 2006 It slides all over in the winter. It’s not safe and very difficult to maintain, in addition to being a gas guzzler. Lots of times I go nowhere at all because I can’t afford the gas. Heck, I can’t even afford a car wash. Why this is considered a luxury is beyond me—my car, a.k.a. ‘The Povertymobile.’ It is really hard to afford a car. I have been lucky and have had no major problems with it, other than a brake cylinder. I have had to do the tires, but one at a time. I don’t have a proper spare and my front passenger tire is as bald as bald can be.

24 My Bike is My Car Genevieve Jones*, 2006 I cycle from about April to October as the weather allows and when I feel well enough to do so. I walk often, but this also takes better shoes that I cannot afford. Bus money is very limited. I hope Saskatoon soon passes at least a trial bus pass for a minimal amount for people in poverty, like Regina this past year.

25 A Heavy Load Elaine Gamble, 2006 I saw this couple struggling with their stuff from the Food Bank. I really felt for these people. I have a vehicle. I can drive where I need to go. But there is a strength for them. Even though they don’t have a vehicle and they’re in poverty, they’re doing something. They are going to the Food Bank. They are walking to bring their stuff back. And this gentleman stopped four or five times in that little stretch, so you know that what he was carrying was heavy. As photographers in this project, we made a commitment to treat people with respect, and not use their pictures without permission. We have blurred the images of the people to protect their privacy, but we wanted to share this picture of poverty in our city.

26 I live in the Saskatoon Housing Coalition which has three apartments and a group home for people who have mental illness. I am fortunate living at the Housing Coalition. I’ve been there sixteen years. They need lots of buildings because there is a long waiting list for people with psychiatric problems who want to live there. We are dead centre in the inner city where there’s crime, because that’s all we could afford. Guys have been beaten up because it’s not a safe area. Inside the buildings we’re very safe. They shouldn’t put them all in the high-crime area. A Safe Place to Live Smith*, 2006

27 Black Mould Dawn McGraw*, 2006 I have black mould in my basement. I have tried to clean it regularly with bleach. It keeps coming back; it’s spreading. I have told them this is not healthy for my children. I have a very damp basement so I am not surprised. My house is very old. My landlord takes forever to come in and fix things—things that are a danger and put my children at risk.

28 My Journey Virginia Beebe, 2006 This is like a path, a journey—the journey I have been on since I became a teen parent. Always searching for ways to break out of that box, break out of that system, and to be who I was inside and not what everyone would tell me I was.

29 Self Portrait Virginia Beebe, 2006 I am in a transition period. I am going to convocate from university soon. I do not believe I could be sitting here today without the support network that I experienced at my high school, Nutana Collegiate. They approached with a wraparound philosophy to give every opportunity to that child to open that door, and to support them when they walk through that door. They have been key to my story.

30 “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer) Nadia, 2006 The reality is—I am disabled. I am a woman. I live in poverty, my voice is not heard. The truth is—my spirit has risen above this. There are times, though, when people or situations come along to remind me of what I am and try to put me back in my place. You cannot understand how I feel by studying books, by taking courses. You can only understand how I feel by crawling into my skin and living my life.

31 You Have to Be Strong Mary Jane*, 2006 The concrete fence is about the strength people have to have living on assistance. You have to be strong in order to fight for justice. In order to be on welfare, you have to be strong. It’s surprising how strong you have to be, cause if you’re not, you’ll go under.

32 Happy Times Moe S.*, 2006 I have come from a lot of different places behind me and I try to live every moment as much as I can. This is one of my happy times. The school is a real important place in our family. It really brought us home. And our events are so much like a family get- together. It is really important to me to have that.

33 “Don’t let go of hope. Hope gives you the strength to keep going when you feel like giving up.” Nadia, 2006 I hate winter. It’s cold, it’s dreary, it’s colourless, it isolates me. And yet, sometimes, it presents such a day of undeniable beauty. I look for these kinds of days in my life. I hang onto them. They keep me going through my winter.

34 Funding for this project was provided by Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence with financial support from the Women’s Health Contribution Program, Health Canada. The views expressed are those of the photographers and not necessarily those of Health Canada.


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