April 22, 2021

Michael Barkman: Canadian Community Economic Development Network

Michael Barkman: Canadian Community Economic Development Network

Michael Barkman is a life-long Winnipegger and Manitoban, with a deep affection for the lands and water of Treaty 1 and 3 Territory. Michael cares deeply about social, economic, and environmental justice, and believes in collective movements and solutions rooted in the knowledge of local communities. He is able to practice this through his role as the Public Policy Coordinator with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) - Manitoba. Michael’s work focuses on building a collective mandate among members and taking action to advocate to the provincial and local government for positive policy change. Michael is the current Chair for the Make Poverty History Manitoba coalition, bringing together organizations and individuals across the province to change public policy to address poverty. 
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

Michael Barkman is a life-long Winnipegger and Manitoban, with a deep affection for the lands and water of Treaty 1 and 3 Territory. Michael cares deeply about social, economic, and environmental justice, and believes in collective movements and solutions rooted in the knowledge of local communities. He is able to practice this through his role as the Public Policy Coordinator with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) - Manitoba. Michael’s work focuses on building a collective mandate among members and taking action to advocate to the provincial and local government for positive policy change. Michael is the current Chair for the Make Poverty History Manitoba coalition, bringing together organizations and individuals across the province to change public policy to address poverty.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Cree, Oji Cree, Dakota, and the Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation.

This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights.

Here's your host Stuart Murray.

My guest today cares deeply about social, economic and environmental justice.

He believes in collective movements and solutions rooted in the knowledge of local communities.

He has collaborated on numerous community events and actions for public education.

Anti poverty, economic justice, L G B T T Q Plus Rights and the environment.

Michael Bartman is the current chair for make poverty history.

Manitoba in Coalition Michael Bartman Welcome to humans on rights.

Thank you.

Thanks so much for having me.

So, Michael, how does somebody get involved and be so interested in advocating for education in particular on the issue around making poverty history in Manitoba?

I've been doing a lot of reflecting that very question, I guess.

How does one come to be doing the work that they're doing?

Especially I want to say from the outset that I'm not somebody who's ever lived in poverty.

I come from a family background of whole heck of a lot of teachers so comfortable by no means, uh, you know, overly wealthy or anything but a lot of public servants in that way, but definitely a comfortable line of privileged background in many ways growing up in West Winnipeg, but one kind of piece, maybe the in a roundabout way.

Stuart, answer your question that I've been chatting about with folks.

I am turning 28 soon, and I think I come from an interesting generation where a lot of social issues and environmental issues were certainly coming up, not saying that they weren't present in schools or education before that, but definitely a really serious way from the time I was in elementary school student, from learning about recycling and the perils of the ozone layer to thinking about poverty, especially at a global lens.

And maybe that's the difference.

Yeah, but I think something really interesting happened where we're still figuring out how to teach young people about what to do about it.

And I think at the same time there is also an advent of a lot of social media, just kind of starting out as a platform.

I got my Facebook account and I was in grade seven, which is so weird to think about.

And I think what happened was there was a lot of really interesting, sort of individualistic, almost or like kind of personality influenced activism at the time.

So you know, you're a student and you can go out and you could change the world all by yourself.

And I think it was maybe a harsh reality to become an adult and realise it's actually pretty hard to do that by yourself.

You need other people with you.

Yeah, I got really interested in sort of being able to do something for the community that I lived in, whether that's for folks who are very struggling in poverty or for the environment.

But it was really going to answer your question, a round about way.

It took me a while to realise, Oh, we got to do that together in our own different ways in our own different organisations and groups and communities.

But it maybe took me a while to realise that the sort of maverick approach of one person with a social media account isn't going to be the change or the change of the world as I was maybe thought when I was 16.


Well, fair enough.

But I mean, it still was something that got you to where you are today.

I mean, somebody has to You have to start somewhere.

And so from that perspective, Michael was there anything that it's fascinating when you see it come from a sort of long history of family, of, of teachers, because I think education is really what I want to talk to a bit about when you talk about sort of collaboration.

But before we get there, is there anything at all that you viewed you saw you witnessed You were part of that really did have an impact and say, You know what?

As an individual, I am going to start to see how I can be one of these people that advocates for change.

I mean, you think in a really simple way, I was always kind of somebody who, you know, I was on my student council are involved in certain ways, but maybe that was more for sort of a social aspect.

But really, when I saw the activism happening through the students association at the U.



I was really enthralled.

I really Yeah, I found a place in a home, and I think that is really important.

Maybe it fits into with what I said earlier is I think people are drawn in often on issues or on things that may be bothered them on a personal basis.

But I think they stick around in some of this work because of relationships.

And that was really apparent to me that the friends that I made at the university level or a lot around the kind of work I was doing, but maybe a little bit deeper is them.

I also in my own journey of coming out being comfortable as a as a queer person, seeing a lot of the activism and history of activism, of queer politics and queer organising and really coming into a time where there was so much more acceptance than my, you know, predecessors in that movement 15 2030 years before me.

So I mean, I don't I don't think I would have said this at the time, but now I really see that I have benefited in being able to come out being so accepted from the advocacy or activism on that issue from people before me.

So there's maybe a feeling of responsibility of trying to do what I can now, so that 30 years from now maybe there's somebody who benefits again.

I don't think I would have said it in that way when I was first getting involved, but I had a sense of responsibility.

I'm sort of drawn to your comments about sort of getting a level of comfort and being in a position to be open and to advocate for something.

And when you're advocating, you know, whether it's your own personal lived experience, Michael, I think the notion always is.

There is those that will always as you start to advocate, you realise there are those that are opposed, and so you're always talking in your bio and your background about collaborating.

Did you have a challenge, or have you?

Can you share any challenges you've had when you've tried to collaborate on issues that are passionate to you because there are always others, and in many ways, in in a democracy there should be others on the other side.

It's just how rigid Sometimes they are on the other side.

Can you share your thoughts on that?

I think something I've been thinking a lot about and would love to at another time.

Here are two more what?

You what you might answer because I think it is so important.

Especially right now.

Let's talk about much more broadly about polarisation and sort of influence that Social media might have on Echo.

Chambers are just going to look for the beliefs that we believe in.

And I think I've been really trying and coming to terms with how important it is to collaborate, as you say, But maybe even before collaboration to just build relationship or conversation with those that aren't part of that echo chamber.

Obviously hard to do in a time in which were mostly at home on our computers and often not making the same kind of acquaintances or reaching out to new people as we might have, I think that this is just something in the sort of groups that I'm involved with, a real basic level.

I think there's so much value in going to knock doors or make phone calls with people that we don't know very well, and I was really learned a lot when I went into the Elmwood area, which is a community A.

As I said, I grew up in West Winnipeg and more familiar with that and living in the West End.

Now it was knocking on doors in Elmwood to talk about the issues of climate change, and, you know, if someone who also spent a lot of time doing anti poverty work, I just was really forced to kind of eat humble pie, so to speak, in terms of going door to door, to talk, or like even present these issues that made me feel far away.

Or maybe I was talking about my own fears with climate change, as opposed to starting with asking people what they were feeling about it and that sort of thing.

So it's really quite like as going to chat with new people always is quite really opened my eyes in many ways.

But I think to me it spoke to how it's important.

We think about how things are being messaged when we're talking about these things and yeah, I was just really blown away with sort of response we got and then also, to be honest, like maybe the arguments at the door, because it felt so.

I felt so passionate about what I was.

Therefore, and other people were passionate on many other different things.

But they're all good conversations.

I learnt a lot, right?

And so conversations are fantastic.

And that's why I'm really delighted you're joining me on on this podcast.

Michael, just go back for a moment.

Did you say you were in Point Douglas at this time when you were door knocking, I was in Elmwood.

I know.


I'm sorry.


Syrian Elmwood.

Was there a political campaign going on?

Or was there a particular reason that you were trying to find out about climate change?

Yeah, I was door knocking on behalf of a national campaign called Our Time.

So it was kind of in partnership with a group called 3 50 dot org That was, as part of the federal election, organising groups of young people, especially to organising different writings, especially writing that were maybe swing or that sort of thing to go talk about the issues of climate change that was really under that banner of a national campaign to try and boost up that issue at election time.

Again like that feels like such an important want to have conversation and to bring it to people's lived realities, as opposed to feeling like a far away type of issue and in the same vein, like that's something that might make poverty history.

Work that we've been talking about a lot is how do we make sure that we're chatting with folks and bringing these issues for people who have never experienced poverty?

Who then maybe you can think about how they're voting or how they're spending their money or how they're donating and consider some of those choices if they don't have that kind of lived experience.

So it's kind of like bringing that to their doorstep or to their living room or whatever, and in a way they understand.

Yeah, so, Michael, you know, just because I've had some experience myself door knocking in previous careers kind of retail politics, I think, is sometimes what it's called.

But in this case, you know what?

You're at a doorstep.

You're you're having a face to face conversation with a person of family.

How has that impacted?

You know, from your perspective, with covid.

I mean, you know, here we are.

We're talking by Zoom.

We can't sit across the table from one another.

So in terms of trying to get out in front of some of these issues, and particularly on an educational basis that you're trying to explain or you're trying to bring information forward, how would you say the covid has impacted that ability to to what you're doing, then of what you sort of see on the political horizon.

But then I want to talk about your ability as you're trying to educate people in a collaborative way around make poverty History of Manitoba.

I think it's been really hard and, you know, I think there's been a lot of creativity that's gone into things that I've worked on or things that the groups that people I collaborate with have worked on.

But all in all, I think it's just very challenging, particularly for the reasons that we've been talking about that, to make sure that conversations as much as they moved online don't just revolve around the same people or involve the same kind of echo chamber to use that word again over and over, and that feels particularly challenging right now to bring the group so that communities are the organisations of the individuals into something you know to give an example.

We had an event for make poverty history at the beginning of April this year around homelessness in Winnipeg.

And really, it was our intent to try and bring people who were increasingly concerned about homelessness when it was very, very cold this past winter and invite them into a conversation about long term or systemic change to end homelessness, as opposed to just only maybe being concerned when it's minus 40 overnight and then otherwise, being something that we forget about.

And it was a thing that we really had to rack our minds as a group like, how do we actually accomplish that goal of reaching those people or those communities?

I think we did some interesting or creative things to do.

Some targeted or strategic outreach through ways that people organise themselves all over the city are all over the province in in their daycare centres in their local rotary club.

Those sorts of things there's all sorts of ways humans we organise ourselves so we can be a bit strategic maybe about making some of those relationships.

I think that reaches wider networks.

But yeah, overall, I would say to answer your question.

It's certainly been a challenge because we've relied so much on social media through the pandemic, which has been both a blessing, obviously, to remain connected.

But I think in many ways has also emphasised some of those silos that we might exist in, and it can be a bit more challenging to break them down and collaborate, or at least just learn from each other.

I want to talk a little bit about collaboration.

It's something obviously that you are very focused on.

And if you look at your your work that you have been involved in as your still a young man at 28 I mean, you've done a tremendous amount.

So your runway in front of you thank goodness for society is going to be great.

So thank you for what you've done.

And I know what you will do, Michael.

But you know, collaboration at a time of covid, you know, is also another challenge.

And I just be very interested to kind of get your sense of some of the innovative things that you've seen that have worked and maybe some of the things that you've tried, that maybe you wouldn't necessarily do again.

Yeah, we'll definitely And thanks for those kind words And absolutely the collaboration is a huge part of it really hearkens back to what I said initially that I believe so strongly that we won't achieve the change we want to.

If we try and do it alone, there's that very good expression of If you want to go fast, go alone And if you want to go far, go together, of which the origins There's a lot of dispute where it comes from, but I think that the sentiment is really true for me.


My paid work is with a group called the Canadian Community Economic Development Network.

So really happily I can kind of put these principles of collaboration to work through my paid job, which is bringing together a network of community based organisations of social enterprises and of co operatives and others who are interested in local fair economic development, of which that you know, there's a concern, too, about addressing poverty.

So there's been some I mean, it's not necessarily in the work that I've been involved with, but more members of our network doing collaboration through this pandemic, but I think is really, really inspiring.

You know, the province was trying to house folks who are homeless to try and make sure there were spaces for for people to isolate and they were able to purchase or renovates.

Or, I should say, a Manitoba housing building and the group that did that renovation is called Purpose Construction, which is a local social enterprise I was able then to employ.

They employ people with barriers to employment, whether they've been incarcerated, whether they're newcomers and maybe face language barriers, or whether they've been through the child and family services and have other barriers to employment.

So I thought it was just so awesome that this company that is employing these people, that people can have access to good work to meaningful work that pays enough so they can support themselves.

But they may be been through, or they maybe would have needed something like this, uh, this immediate housing 10 or 15 years ago or even five years ago for themselves.

Another really cool example was three different social enterprises work together to sell masks that were made by the cutting edge to programme the Canadian Muslim Women's Institute.

They work together with another company called Local Investment towards Employment or Light to produce these masks again.

It was made either by newcomer women or other folks with barriers to employment.

And then they were sold at Pollock's Hardware Coop, which you've seen in The news has been struggling.

And then there's a local cooperative that, like many would be impacted by the pandemic, started Awesome.

Another example of collaboration, then definitely more on the sort of advocacy or activism side, I think, lots of great instances of collaboration.

We host an annual conference called The Gathering in the in the Fall, and we hosted all on Zoom this year, and people were really, really delighted still to join each other, to even talk about what collaboration looks like and how to do it.

It's not just a thing that happens, it's a skill, and it can be worked on.

Yeah, that was really awesome to have this, uh, this whole virtual big event with hundreds of folks join, even though it was just all on Zoom and there's so many ripples of collaboration.

I think just by a chance, that container to bring people in.


And you know, when I sort of get to kind of our topic today about making poverty history in Manitoba, You know, Michael, you've obviously had an involvement in a lot of social, economic and justice issues that have been of interest to you.

What got you interested in making Manitoba are making poverty history in Manitoba again?

This may be a learning journey of mine to really I've said many times now think about the importance of collective work.

I was also maybe think about what's my position in that again as someone with relatively lots of privilege in my life, I got involved quite a bit with student, as I said to the student organising, and then it was actually part of our National Students Union for a few years, which to me, I felt like a really useful experiences of a student.

But I can also contribute so in my time to helping out the people I see around me much at that time, where other students I also was really then keen to join with the groups which I was already formed to make poverty history Manitoba knowing at the time, because I was so invested in student organising and helping students the particularly issues or impacts of poverty and being a student.

So I got involved with that group, but it was definitely because of the people, the relationships that I built through my classes.

I was I graduated with a political science degree from University of Winnipeg, but I did a lot of classes in urban and inner city studies and if people haven't heard of the department or the programme, I think it's really awesome.

Fairly new programme at U of w that is right now has a new beautiful building on Selkirk Avenue, the merchants corner.

When I went there, it was tiny, dingy department in the basement where you hear kids running around in the daycare above and it was just awesome to make relationships with a tonne of different people in that department.

I would ride over the Arlington Bridge from my place in, uh in the West End at the time into the north end and joined students who are coming right and walking from their homes in that community.

And there's a lot of sharing a lot of history about people's cultural and social backgrounds and economic backgrounds anyways, so that my sort of experience there in meeting students with lived experience of poverty currently while trying to study being parents at the same time, to, um, I felt like that was a lens or an important angle that I had to bring to my activism as a student organiser.

Anyways, that led me to make poverty history, and I felt again like a responsibility to maintain my help in that organisation.

In that group that brings together both people with and without lived experience of poverty.

And then I wanted to make a commitment to be there for a while because it's a long, long, long, long term issues that we're working on that can't just be resolved in a year or two.

So, Michael, as you're looking at making poverty history and and and the things that go along with it, is there.

Have you seen where there's been levels of success in other communities that you can sort of draw upon that experience to sort of look at how that can impact?

I mean, every community is different in Winnipeg is different than Toronto is different than Chicago, etcetera.

So, but is there something that that you've been able to the organisation been able to glean?

And I'll ask you because I'm asking it in this context, I'd like you to think about our answer, if you could, the notion that because some of your stuff in your Web sites very robust.

By the way, there's some great information on your website, which will give out to at the end of this programme you.

You want to obviously get involved in changing policy, you know, because that's important to look at how you change policy.

So in the context of my question, Michael, would you see bringing levels of success if there are other communities to help advance the change of policy?

Or do you need the change of policy to try to show the levels of success?

Are you thinking about specifically, like whether it's almost maybe I don't know if that's what you're getting at, but in terms of when we adopt or in the stages of innovation, if we're early adopters or might we be?

I'm talking we as in Manitoba and Winnipeg and and just getting a sense, Michael, If if there's anything that the organisation may have had a sense of a community that has been able to adopt, whether it's civic policy on ending poverty or provincial or whatever, that allows at least a framework to sort of start otherwise you know, starting from from scratch if that's appropriate to say it that way.

I mean, one thing I'm particularly proud of in our work is we have been very provincially focused.

But maybe four years ago, some of our members for make poverty history went to a conference in Edmonton and learned a lot about what the city of Edmonton is doing to end poverty.

And they have a pretty comprehensive strategy.

They have an organisation that they fund called end poverty.


We have some really important connections drawn between the work to end poverty and the work to end racism.

And that work of anti racist um is really key.

And what the City of Edmonton strategy calls game changers to end poverty.

So we were really inspired by that work in Edmonton and ran a campaign here in Winnipeg to do the same to, say the city, though it doesn't have all the powers.

Obviously, it does have certain role.

It has a mandate that it must care for the welfare of its citizens, including those living in poverty.

And on top of that, we spend a lot of money as a city and emergency services that are, in my mind, really related to the root causes of poverty.

So we were successful in the city.

Now is is we've been working, co creating with them a poverty reduction strategy and absolutely we've been looking to other jurisdictions where we see those comprehensive ideas in place.

They really need leadership and champions in elected officials to say Yeah, like we have a role even though we're just the city But we do have a role in zoning and that includes for housing.

And we have a role in transportation of which a lot of low income people use and we have a role in recreation and we can do things to make sure those recreation services are as accessible as they can be.

Many other different things.

And we also looked at other cities and I I don't know enough about the details exactly, but they're definitely exciting stories about whether it's medicine, hat and and other places that have headline really reads ended homelessness, which I think is exciting.

My mind always needs some deep analysis to make sure that issue is so varied in what it looks like.

But I think there's so much to glean from those places when sometimes the simple approaches are taken of homelessness is about folks not having access to a safe, accessible place to live.

We can do that as a society to provide that.

Maybe it's a little bit easier than we think.

It's not definitely easy.

There's lots of complex complexity to it.

But if we put some attention to it, it may be possible to solve it.

Yeah, and you know your reference on ending homelessness in They tied me in medicine hat.

Um, I had spoken to, I guess now the former the CEO of homelessness, And she had told me about medicine hat.

So there's a success story there, and I guess one of the things I thought was interesting with her comment was how again?

Going back to something that's interested you, Michael, is collaboration and getting people together.

And so you you know, you have make poverty history you have and homelessness Winnipeg.

You have these organisations, but clearly the crossover and the intersection of all of this must be paramount to to finding success.

And I just wondered if you could comment on how some of those opportunities of working together with some of those organisations because you're they're not siloed.

These are very much a part of sort of a basic, fundamental human need and a human right speaking to maybe the importance of collaboration that I actually think that this is something that Winnipeg particular and Manitoba is really good at.

I think maybe as a place where there is not the same amount of resources when it comes to supporting the kind of groups to help address poverty or to help do community development or do social innovation.

Sort of work might not be the same amount as Toronto or Vancouver in terms of resources.

I think that maybe resource scarcity allows us to know we need to work together.

So I would say in general that I think it's a place where there's a lot of deep collaboration and that history runs really long in terms of working on these things collectively think there's still in need, of course, for people to be focused.

And I mean, I said earlier, there may be some simplicity to some of tackling some of these big problems, which is true in one sense and also totally wrong in another, like there's so many different barriers or complexities, even addressing homelessness, let alone to that.

Poverty is not just homelessness that can exist in many different ways.

So a group like in homelessness Winnipeg being pretty laser focused on a geographic area.

And an issue like that, I think, is so crucial because they're able to get the people they need around the table and collaborate, and we work with them to we just we That event I was referencing earlier the beginning of a probably co hosted with them and another group right to Housing Coalition, which is another example of collaborative work.

Yeah, so I mean, I don't have a lot of experience working closely in other jurisdictions, but from being part of a national network.

That's often a comment made about Manitoba.

This we're pretty good at collaborating on some of the shared concerns and some of the shared solutions that we have.

So, Michael, what would you say if you had to walk into Now I'm post covid.

So now you're having an audience and you're going into an audience.

And the first question that came to you was in your capacity as chair to poverty history in Manitoba.

What is the first thing you would like us to either a No Or what would you like us to do?

I think I've been thinking about this a lot, but also maybe not enough because it's hard.

So we like pretty quickly started thinking about recovery.

We're still so clearly in response mode, so I really appreciate the question first.

No, I think it's really important and I think it is.

Getting out there in a really amazing way, is the disproportionate impact of covid, whether the virus itself or economically, on certain communities or populations over others.

And I actually think that there's like that's sort of an equity lens.

If I can say that applied to what this pandemic is like in our society is actually pretty prevalent.

I think there's a broad understanding that it affected people in certain sectors who lost their job or who are more vulnerable to get it.

And that looks more often like women, racialised communities or new immigrants or indigenous people or people with disabilities.

And then we also know.

And there's a lot of discussion about this.

The virus itself is harder or worse for people with than some percent than others.

So I think that's to me an amazing and very fertile ground.

To build a conversation in which we need a response to covid that is also equitable were based on an equitable approach.

And so that feels exciting to me that there's at least we're not totally fighting, that we don't understand at all who this pandemic impacted.

The things that are interesting me there, I think, will be.

It depends, of course, on the Who's in government or their approach, definitely.

But regardless, I think there will be a rush of spending in some way.

And my hope is that that spending, whether it's on infrastructure projects or or another sort of income programmes, really importantly has that equity lens first and foremost that we need to make sure whatever programmes are done to recover from this support.

Those who most need it so that includes a gender based lens and a lens on Dejan 80 and a lens on for newcomer people.

Yeah, so there's like There's to me some really exciting things that I think are coming out of other jurisdictions and ideas here about smart stimulus spending.

I'm really interested in ideas around social procurement, which, if you'd asked me three years ago, if I would care about that, I would have told you what is procurement but real, basically, that we're going to be spending government a bunch of money on goods and services.

Can we make sure that even part of that the companies that are doing that work are also helping to address poverty or giving a job to people who may be lost it during covid And then at the same time?

I think as we know, there's obviously a huge amount of dialogue around ideas of basic income or guaranteed income or better standards in terms of social assistance, And that, to me, is the other piece that must be essential in a recovery.

We saw the huge benefit that Serb as an income provided by government provided, and that was so necessary in an emergency.

I think we have a really archaic system of income supports in the whole country.

I think about that most in terms of provincially here.

Manitoba's not increased our social assistance rates in a long time, but also to be honest, I think that the programme is not only tired.

I think that it has a lot of elements of colony colonialism that still exist to it.

And I think that we could do a lot to reimagine those sorts of programmes so that they're supportive.

They give pathways to people to access meaningful employment and then we have those other things around smart, smart spending and smart stimulus that is really an equitable approach, so they complement each other.

I'd love to explore with you for a second, Michael the thought about you know how, how to make change.

And when you look at certain governments, you know there's programmes that existed as you say they're archaic, potentially build around colonialism.

Do you have some thoughts on how that might change?

Because I really think one of the challenges of trying to make changes that you know, people do things a certain way and they fund things a certain way and those things have been happening year after year, decade after decade.

And so you know the notion of saying OK, you know, maybe when it started it was a good programme because it was something of necessity.

But, you know, as as the world has changed and as we've learned these changes, how can we re imagine some of these issues?

And so I'd love to.

Can you share some of your thoughts on how you might take some of the the arcane parts of maybe what policy and government to maybe try and change that?

Yes, for sure.

And thanks to you, I think it's important when I'm talking this way, too remind where the history of somebody's come from in terms of where our welfare state built, and totally that the importance that they've had two stories that for me really clued me into what I specifically thinking about the income and social assistance programmes in our country.

One is story, actually, in Shaun Loney's book, who's a social enterprise and entrepreneur and creator and been really important in the community economic development space.

And in his book, he talks about the experience in the In Garden Hill First Nation.

Yeah, where it's like very comment, like people receive in the community who are receiving welfare or employment and income assistance checks received that from the government.

They have to pay it to take a ferry to the island where the northern store is located.

And that, of course, is still owned by the North West Company, where people spend money on food that we know very well the astronomical costs of food in the North and I have to pay for the ferry back.

And basically, by the time that's done, the welfare check is gone.

To me that, like, really opened my eyes to where that money is going.

In this concept that's often talked about in community economic development of a leaky bucket.

So money comes in the community, and it just, like, totally sifts out.

It goes to the Northwest Company, or it goes to the members operating the ferry, and it doesn't stay in the community.

The other example of the welfare world that really opened my eyes is what people talk about is a welfare wall, and I didn't know this, and I don't think a lot of Manitoba ins know this that when your unemployment, income assistance or welfare and you start working, every dollar you make at work is then clawed back from what you get in employment and income assistance to the tune of 70 cents on the dollar.

Makes sense in theory, of course, because we want to support people going to work.

But in practise, what happens is it means that people, if they end up in a full time minimum wage job, they might be making on par maybe a little bit more in some instances than what they did on employment and income assistance.

So it actually means that it's more of a disincentive to work.

And if you're somebody who's dealing with trauma, maybe that you're also dealing with some some mental health, rather challenges.

Or maybe you're supporting kids.

It might just be easier to choose the A system.

And I think we really need to value in a support that that's a hard choice people are making, but that the welfare wall really sticks with me as an imagery of, like trying to get out of this programme when, as soon as you start making some money, you get it cut back.

I get why people might choose a different option with all of the other challenge they're facing.

So maybe just two examples to me that show that we've got to be thinking a little bit differently about supports that actually work for people and economies that fill those holes in that leaky bucket, especially for communities that maybe have been marginalised or disadvantaged.

Michael, when you look at what you've seen so far, your involvement again just the fact that you're chairing make poverty history.

Manitoba in coalition What gives you hope for the future?

Yeah, what gives me hope is I mean, it's talking about it already a bit before, but I think there's a really amazing, interesting, broader social understanding of the impact of this pandemic on who it's impacted.

And I think that's open space for some of these conversations.

And I'm just learning so much from people who are talking about an equitable recovery or ideas of adjust recovery.

And I think it's made space for that again.

That's a huge caveat.

There is that it's also a main space at a very, very challenging time where we people have died and people have been very sick and families have been so economically impacted.

So I'm careful not also to like, feel gleeful about the opportunity that it's provided, because it's clearly been so challenging.

But if that's any like one silver lining, so to speak for maybe something that gives me hope is that we're considering how to recover in an equitable way and something we haven't gotten into very much.

But that's also given me hope is the ideas to that.

We have this other big crisis looming when we talk about the climate crisis some people talk about.

This is sort of like a, you know, a dress rehearsal for that which I think is both scary.

But also again.

I don't want to diminish how hard this has been to for many people, the covid particularly.

But that also maybe gives me hope in the ideas of addressing an equitable recovery in a way that also prepares us for more climate, resilient economy or climate prepared economy, which I think can be framed in both a scary way.

But to me can also be framed in a really exciting way where there's so much opportunity in terms of green jobs and employment for people who really need it and transition for people who are maybe working in other sectors, opportunities to maybe build up those kind of economies like I was talking about earlier.

Filling those gaps are those holes in First Nations communities who are now building their own geothermal heat and renewable energy while addressing poverty in their community.

And one example of that is a key energy.

I think it's such an amazing Manitoba story that needs everyone should know about social enterprise that works with and is run by, indigenous people that employs people in a community to instal geothermal and other renewable energy projects.

It then employs people in that community over the long term.

Maybe we're living in poverty before, who knows?

Maybe there was someone receiving that welfare check, and now they are have a stable job, are providing for their family, are working in the community that they live in, and they're they're heat bills go down, and they're also helping us address the climate crisis.

So that's sort of like win, win, win win scenarios.

To me, that's a great story.


Are what's given me.


Yeah, Michael, as we sort of wrap up our conversation.

Um, one of the things is, you know, I can appreciate and some of the as I said, I remind anybody that's listening is you've got a great make poverty history and Manitoba, you've got a great website, lots of great information on there.

And I spent some time going through it.

So it's not I don't mean to say, you know, what is the one?

If somebody were to say what what one action item could somebody take?

I mean, there's so many, there's a myriad.

So this isn't to sort of say, what is the If you're only going to do one thing, you know, do one thing.

But if there is one step, maybe that people could take one step, that they could stay, too on this journey to try to help to make poverty history in Manitoba.


What might that step be?

Well, my natural inclination there is to say to contact your politicians, and I think it's so clear what all levels of government So you're talking civic, provincial and federal levels, and we offer ways of how easy ways to let you know who you should contact when it comes to provincial, municipal and some messaging.

So of course you need that help.

But I think that that is going to be really crucial as I start to turn towards recovery.

That maybe inviting your politician to some of these hopeful conversations or ideas around.

Hey, what are you thinking about?

And what are you doing to consider your role, whether you're in L.

A or a counsellor or a member of Parliament in terms of supporting an equitable adjust and a green recovery for Manitoba, for Canada, for Winnipeg?

So maybe it's a little bit less of like, Why aren't you doing this?

And inviting a politician to have that sort of hopeful conversation and if they're not, may be on board for that yet trying to inspire some of that hope.

And there's your collaboration, Michael right there.

I agree with you.

I think that that's really you know, conversations these days of finger pointing and why aren't you?

I think, uh tends to sort of build walls where you know, you you bring an opportunity to sort of bring people into a conversation or to see something.

Uh, they're better to have.

Somebody sees something from their perspective than be told, you know what they should or shouldn't be doing.

And I think you know, that speaks volumes about your ability to collaborate, and and I want to just end on a bit of a quote if I could, which is not going to be surprised, because I got it off your website.

But it was something that Nelson Mandela said in a speech about overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity.

It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.

While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.

You know, there's something that we can all learn from it.

And I think the education that you have brought to this conversation is something I want to acknowledge and admire, because I do think that it's the education of issues that ultimately is going to make change.

Yeah, thanks for that quote.

That probably is.

Uh, I should just, like, memorise that a bit more second quote, Mr Mandela, but yeah, I agree.

And that that education to is something we're definitely wanting to be so focused on.

I think too it will be so crucial.

as we imagine, and then build some new realities new economies that we haven't quite conceived of yet that to me.


Why Education and collaboration is so important.

If we're going to do that collective imagination of what could we have that's different?

What do we need?

Absolutely need to have.

I think that education is really a step one.

So Michael Markman, thank you for spending some time on humans on rights.

This has been a great conversation.

I want to acknowledge what you have done, what you continue to do.

And I thank you as a member of the community for your actions and what you're doing.

And again, I'll watch with great anticipation and awe as you continue to work, were collaboration through this community to to do what you believe in and hope one day that we can make poverty history in Manitoba.

Thank you.

Thanks, Stewart.

So much for having me and bringing your wisdom and knowledge to to this.

I'm looking forward to hopefully conversations in the future to beyond this.

Thank you.

Look forward to it.

Thanks very much, Michael.

Humans on Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray, social media marketing by the creative team at full current and Winnipeg Thanks also to trick Seem a Bit You in Music by Doug Edmund.

For more go to human rights hub dot c, a production of the Sound Off Media company Hi, I'm Matt Kendall, host of The Sound Off Podcast.

The Podcast about broadcast.

Every week since 2016, we've been bringing on broadcast leaders to talk about their experiences in radio, what they've seen and where they believe it is all going.

If you live in love radio, subscribe to the sound off podcast with Matt Kendall wherever you get your podcasts.