Dozens of activists marched against poverty in Halifax Saturday, part of a world-wide “Stand Up” on the United Nation’s International Day to Eradicate Poverty.
“The rally was in support of the millennial development goals, which is what the global campaign is centred around,” said Make Poverty History Halifax organizer Merlin Watt. The eight goals are based on UN plans for aiding developing countries by 2015. “In Canada, Make Poverty History has also adopted a domestic element to their platform, rightly recognizing that we have poverty in our own back yard.”
Protesters gathered at Victoria Park and marched down Spring Garden Road en route to Halifax North library, where a community fair signed up volunteers for a range of anti-poverty initiatives.
The NDP’s Megan Leslie joined the march. “Poverty is about policy,” the rookie MP for Halifax told the crowd at the library. “It is about the political decisions that we make.”
Leslie called for a federal poverty-reduction strategy and asked her constituents to help her make it happen. “I’m talking about it in the House of Commons, but I tell you that I can stand up there and talk about poverty till I’m blue in the face and it means nothing, unless there is … pressure coming from (the community).”
Jacquelyn Scott of World University Service of Canada was one of the volunteers signing up new recruits. WUSC brings students from the developing world to Canada to further their studies.
“Our motto is ‘education changes the world,’” the Saint Mary’s University student said. This year, WUSC at SMU is sponsoring a man from Ethiopia who had been living in a refugee camp.
Global organizers of the “Stand Up” were hoping to better last year’s turnout of 117 million people.