The Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries (SPC) held its third annual Poverty Symposium as part of DIRECTIONS DAY on June 12, 2008. The importance and purpose of the 2008 symposium was to engage community groups in ideas and solutions around poverty reduction, to raise awareness of local and national poverty initiatives and to find and utilize a forum for community collaboration.

The SPC welcomed Peggy Matchim and Aisling Gogan, from Newfoundland and Labrador, to speak on the province’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Aisling outlined the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy while discussing the developmental process and how community partners were involved. Peggy focused on the community perspective and highlighted the successes and challenges of multi-sector collaboration in St. John’s. Also discussed were meaningful methods used to engage citizens and community reflections on the province’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Following the keynote speakers, there were four workshops from which participants could choose to learn more. The breakout sessions were the following: Community Engagement was facilitated by Michael Creek from “Voices from the Street“; Michael, who is a survivor of poverty, discussed the importance of community engagement to address the issue of poverty. The second, Social and Enterprise Development Innovations, (SEDI), featured Barbara Gosse from SEDI, a national non-profit organization, who engaged her group in a presentation on asset building. The third workshop entitled A Community Response to Fair Income was hosted by the Community Response for Fair Income Planning Group. This workshop engaged individuals to develop a strategy towards advocating fair income within the community. The last workshop entitled Social Enterprise, was facilitated by Fiona Kangaloo, Manager of Morning Glory Café and Bakery in Kitchener, and focused on the importance and success of social enterprise initiatives.

There were approximately 70 participants at the symposium including representatives from community organizations, municipal and regional government and interested individuals.