This past week I was in Kingston, Ontario preventing at the !nstigate Anti-Poverty conference (you can see my presentation here). On Friday at lunch the conference organizers suggested we go and see a protest being put on by the catholic sisters at Kingston City Hall. I was intrigued, so went to check it out.
The Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul have been standing at City Hall every Friday from 12:15 to 12:45 since 1995 when Harris cut social assistance rates. They stand with signs protesting poverty in their community. At the same time, the sisters provide a soup kitchen called Martha’s Table in Kingston. They consider the protest to be an essential supplement to the hands-on work, balancing service and political action.
I was struck by the length the protest, and their dedication to the cause. Two of the sisters I talked to had been with it since the very beginning, and made it out most weeks. There was also a great selection of other people who were taking time out of their lunch to join in. Some might mock based on the lack of success, but I think that if we surrender when things don’t go our way, there would be no one to push the anti-poverty agenda. I have been involved in health care with homeless people for only 5 1/2 years, I hope that in 10 years time I will still be showing the same dedication these wonderful ladies have shown.
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated in our common life.” – Jane Addams