Organizing to end child poverty in Kelowna

Community Action Toward Children’s Health gathered concerned community members Tuesday for their National Child Day Event.

Mark Holmgren offered a Kelonwa audience some insights on how to tackle poverty at a community level

Kelowna is getting ready to end child poverty.

Community Action Toward Children’s Health gathered concerned community members Tuesday at the Laurel Packinghouse for their National Child Day Event.

This year’s theme was working toward a poverty reduction plan for the Central Okanagan.

“Communities need to come together and address those issues that can be addressed at this level,” said Myrna Kalmakoff, community coordinator for CATCH.

“We need to encourage our provinces to adopt a poverty reduction strategy and our federal government to adopt a national poverty reduction strategy, but there is a lot we can do at the local level.”

Already, Kalmakoff said, there has been progress made toward that effort. CATCH started the conversation about creating a poverty reduction strategy a year ago, and they’ve done a lot of background work.

On Tuesday, Mark Holmgren, senior director at Tamarack Institute, was the man tasked with explaining just how to create that momentum.

Holmgren joined Tamarack in January 2016 to lead its Vibrant Communities initiative, which is an extension of work he’d undertaken in earlier incarnations.

He’s provided executive leadership to two Edmonton-based, inner city human service agencies focused on addressing poverty and homelessness; as well as providing consultation to a number of groups on issues relating to social housing development, organizational change, strategy development and leadership.

He also served as CEO of Bissell Centre, where he led a team of 130 staff delivering Housing First services, assertive street outreach, family and children services, and programs in the areas of mental health, addictions, homelessness prevention, FASD interventions, and employment services.

“For many years there was a feeling that government should take care of this issue, but poverty appears in every city, town, neighbourhood,” he said.

“We’ve been shown, with the work done with other communities, if they take charge of their situation things start to happen.”

The involvement of municipal governments puts pressure on provincial governments to chip in.

When community faith leaders and business leaders start looking at poverty, then the other power players start looking at it.

“Housing, transportation, unemployment a minimum wage, high school graduation… . we think there’s more of a potential to end poverty if there’s local drive to do it,” he said.

An example that came to mind was in Grand Prairie, AB, where members of that community joined together to address poverty issues and in the end they provided free public transit to those in need.

Similarly, in Edmonton, there was a mayor’s tasks force and they found a way to make public transportation accessible for very low income people.

“I think more people are struggling than we realize. There are lots of people who earn a wage that’s above the poverty line, but are living paycheque to paycheque,” he said, noting that the most recent survey by the Canadian Payroll Association found that 50 per cent of Canadians are just two paycheques away from losing their home or car.

“Canada has the largest percentage of low income workers in the world,” he said, and that has serious repercussions for future generations.

“If parents are working two jobs it’s hard to take are of their kids, if they don’t have the money or are struggling to get by.”

For more information go to

Just Posted

UPDATE: Homeowners keep fire at bay in Oyama garage

Fire crews are reportedly on scene of a structure fire on Broadwater Road

Comedians to share laughs to help Kelowna school

Fundraiser begins effort to replace $20,000 stolen from South Rutland Elementary PAC

Rockets’ Erik Gardiner retires from hockey

Gardiner steps away from hockey for health and personal reasons.

Peachland’s doctors moving out of the district

All the doctors at Beach Avenue Medical Centre are leaving

Reaction from Costco shoppers on potential move to West Kelowna

Rumors have been heard that the Kelowna store may move to West Kelowna

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Most Read