As election day draws near using your vote as your ‘voice’ is an often coined phrased. This election, there is one candidate that is championing a voice, one that is often unheard and unnoticed.
Nicholas Ross is homeless and running for mayor. Having attended a number of mayoral events I had a chance to interact with Nicholas. He is unable to speak so we had to communicate by him writing me notes. He told me he was homeless and couldn’t afford to participate in any of the other election practices that the other candidates could such as flyers, signs, or even having an internet presence. I walked away from our interaction upset yet inspired.
Ross’ campaign was recently documented in a Guelph Mercury article:
My interaction with Ross led me to reflect about the larger issue: accessibility to resources that creates equity and opportunity. This is true in our school system as well. Having recently met with a neighbourhood group, they had mentioned the equity problem and how it is adversely affecting children in their neighbourhood. The neighbourhood group highlighted how poverty was affecting school attendance, participation in school activities that require families to pay a fee (home economics, physical education and field trips) nutrition as well as school amenities such as play structures. Sometimes groups that are affected by poverty, like mayoral candidate Ross, may not have the access or ability to advocate their needs. The neighbourhood group is doing Herculean efforts by producing thousands of snacks for families in their neighbourhood a month! But more help is needed. There is an foundational problem that needs to be fixed.
That’s why I feel it’s important for our elected officials to get engaged with these groups. If they are unable to come to you then it’s important that elected officials go to them. Because silence doesn’t indicate an absence of a problem, it may be the absence of voice.
The Trustees candidates in the upcoming election have all provided feedback to the Guelph and Wellington Taskforce for Poverty Elimination on how they feel the board can play a role in poverty elimination. The feedback is available here: http://gwpoverty.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/SBT-UGDSB-2-3-4.pdf
For more information about the task force and this municipal election please visit the fact sheet page:
To find out how you can help by getting involved in neighbourhood groups or other ways you can help you can visit: