CWP Talks Poverty in Northern Canada

CWP’s Michèle Biss has been in Northern Canada to meet with different communities and talk about poverty as a human rights violation.

This trip has been an incredible opportunity to make connections and listen to people in Yukon and the Northwest Territories about what poverty is really like – and how each territory has unique needs and solutions.

Michèle sent this blog from the road, and will be sharing more reflections once her trip to all three territories is complete. You can hear more about our trip by checking out some of the interviews and articles on our media page.

We also want to send a very big thank you to Alternatives North’s Aggie Brockman for hosting this visit to the NWT! (Aggie pictured with Michèle right)


On Thursday, I arrived in Yellowknife and we hit the ground running. I started off with an enlightening conversation at the Wellness Centre in the First Nation’s Community of Ndlio about the prevalence of poverty, homelessness, and hunger among First Nations peoples. The inadequate housing conditions are visible in many parts of the community.


We started Friday with an interview at a local radio station CKLB.

The visit was well timed, and I was able to open the last day of the Working Together to Keep Northern Kids Healthy conference on a rights based approach to poverty in front of an audience from all over the North.

In the afternoon I went to the beautiful Legislative Assembly building to meet with Julie Green, Kevin O’Reilly and Cory Vanthuyne to talk about the NWT poverty strategy and poverty in the north

In the afternoon, I met with a senior advisor on the Northwest Territories poverty strategy. A great meeting followed at Aurora College with a group of social works and colleagues working on anti-poverty initiatives in the community.


On Saturday morning, we had a diverse group come out to our workshop in Yellowknife, about 23 people attended. We had a rich conversation about poverty in the north and a rights-based approach. Thank you to Alternatives North and Aggie Brockman for their amazing work in coordinating this session and the rest of the visit.

In the afternoon, I got to go on a tour with our local board member, George Lessard to see the beautiful sights around Yellowknife.


Sunday was a chance to travel to the community of Behchokǫ̀. Our board vice president, George Lessard, was kind enough to take me the hour and a half drive to the community. I was struck by the visible poverty and boarded up houses. I was reminded by colleagues that Behchokǫ̀ is perhaps not even the hardest hit community by poverty as many are not road accessible.


On Monday, I had the opportunity to meet with Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services – and the Minister in charge of the Northwest Territories poverty strategy. We had a great conversation about the rights of people living in poverty.

Monday afternoon, I visited the Women’s Centre at the Centre for Northern Families, and spoke to individuals there who worked and lived at the shelter about poverty in the region.

I had a great chance to catch up with some amazing colleagues and advocates in the afternoon!


Tuesday morning, I met with Andy Bevan, Assistant Deputy Minister, (Labour and Income Security), Education, Culture and Employment to talk about social assistance, education and human rights.

Later that morning I met with Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck to talk about the role of the city in ending poverty.

Now off to Whitehorse!


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