Highlights from Cities Innovating to Reduce Poverty: Vancouver 2018

Posted on June 21, 2018
By Alison Homer

Cities Innovating to Reduce Poverty, Tamarack’s 2018 Western Regional Poverty Summit, brought together changemakers from more than 25 cities from Western Canada and beyond, to dialogue on innovative ways that governments, cities, and sectors can work together to end poverty.

Over a day and a half of learning, elected officials from all levels of government, city staff, business leaders, funders, community organizers, and experts with lived experience of poverty convened to teach and learn together. The event hosted fabulous speakers, a social innovation walking tour, interactive workshops, and a city-hosted reception.

Event Plenary
Cities Innovating to Reduce Poverty was kicked off by emcees Wes Regan (City of Vancouver) and Shakira Miracle (Vibrant Abbotsford) who welcomed Syexwaliya/Ann Whonnock (Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw/Squamish Nation) to lead us through an opening prayer, and City of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who conducted a Welcome to Vancouver address.

@s_eweida Opening talk and prayer by Syexwaliya. Touching presentation acknowledging the indigenous population's long history & heritage in the Vancouver area. #CRPWEST @WBFoodBank

@katepbutler “We may not see the 1 in 5 kids living in poverty, but they’re here. And we need to see them” ~ Gregor Robertson at Tamarack’s Cities Reducing Poverty Summit #CRPWest @maytree_canada1

The event plenary began with a BC Experience panel where Cities Reducing Poverty members (Tristan Johnson, New Westminster; Anna Purcell & Aaron Ander, Nelson; Donald Kattler, Port Hardy) shared about what is innovative and unique in each of their community contexts and poverty reduction strategies.

@BbyServices Tristan Johnson, Planning Analyst, City of New West, speaking about addressing the stigma attached to poverty through mythbusting #crpwest

@KateGunn Nelson's Anna Purcell: Local businesss may not frame their community sppt as poverty reduction but they can & do play a key role.  #CRPWest

@BbyServices "When we engage with people who are struggling," reflects Aaron Anders, Coordinator, Nelson at its Best, "we can sometimes find the best insight and local solutions". #crpwest

@DToyPries: If you are doing work in reconciliation and it feels easy - it is not reconciliation #truth #quotes #enoughforallyyc #trc #crpwest #povertyreduction @VibrantCalgary @VC_Canada


Hon. Shane Simpson, BC Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction followed, by responding to the BC panel with his own reflections.

@Peel_Poverty Shane Simpson, BC Minister of Social Development & Poverty Reduction speaking at #CRPWEST. 557,000 ppl living in poverty. Until now BC was only province w/out a poverty reduction strategy; that is changing. Discussions with community, Indigenous & First Nations has begun. 

@BbyServices Hon. Shane Simpson speaks about the 4 pillars for poverty reduction in BC: (1) closing the gap between the high cost of living and low income, (2) opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, (3) social inclusion to challenge the stigma of poverty and (4) reconciliation #crpwest



After the morning break, Adam Vasey (Tamarack Institute) provided learners with an overview of the State of Cities Reducing Poverty report, which documents how the growing movement of place-based poverty reduction strategies is impacting the poverty reduction landscape in Canada.

@KateGunn Bold local leadership on poverty, new champions, reconciliation - @adam_vasey w shout out to @doniveson @bishjane & @EndPovertyYEG #CRPWEST

@melindammarkey @Tamarack_Inst rep Adam Vasey sharing examples of impact on poverty reduction - “be aspirational, focus on the vision we want to see for our communities, not just the issue to be solved.” Great example with the “make Hamilton the Best Place to Raise a Child Campaign.” #crpwest

@CTAPinSK Cities can be a strong advocate - they are the level of gov closest to community - they have levers to make change - they have the ability to disrupt systems   #CRPWEST


To close the Day 1 plenary, Paul Born (Tamarack Institute) provided a reflection: The End of Poverty, which highlighted the rapidly growing commitment of Canadians toward ending poverty.

@BbyServices "The three tools we can invest in to end poverty in 20 years," reflects Paul Born @Tamarack_Inst, "are living wage, affordable childcare and basic income". #CRPWEST

CRP in Action

The following four CRP in Action segments were embedded into the event which provided opportunities for lived/living experience experts and poverty reduction practitioners from Cities Reducing Poverty member communities across Western Canada to share priorities and stories of their work:

  • End Poverty Edmonton’s Indigenous Circle (Nadine Chalifoux & Andrea Burkhart)
  • Surrey Youth Leaving Care (Tanika Dodds & Sam Pothier, Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition)
  • Creating a Culture of Inclusion in Saskatoon (Vanessa Charles & Colleen Christopherson Cote, Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership)
  • Voices Influencing Change in Whitehorse (Kerry Nolan & Kristina Craig, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition)

@CTAPinSK Ppl with lived experience of poverty often spend so much time convincing ppl they exist Are u listening to these stories? That circumstances are created by the system, perpetuated by the system

@BbyServices "I can be an advocate of one if I'm not an advocate for all," says Nadine Chalifoux, from the Cree Nation in Alberta and an Indigenous Circle Member, End Poverty Edmonton. "Becuase we all intersect and you can't fix one issue without fixing another". #crpwest

@KateGunn "80 % of youth who age out of care go on to poverty." Our colleagues from Surrey talk abt their Youth Advisory work to change this #CRPWest


Day 1 concluded with a City of Vancouver hosted reception and celebration, featuring inspiring speeches by Councillor Andrea Reimer and Wes Regan, which showcased the city’s innovative approaches to planning and co-creating strategies to reduce poverty through a dual community economic development and healthy communities approach.

Day 2 of the event was comprised of a Social Innovation and Poverty Reduction Strategy session, which featured a video message by Hon. Jean Yves Duclos, and brought together some of the country’s top thinkers, policy makers and activists (Darcy Riddell, McConnell; Al Etmanski, SiG) to explore the important role that social innovation plays in society. Darcy spoke to scaling out (impact more people), up (impacting laws and polices) and deep (impacting cultural roots – hearts and minds), while Al spoke to the importance of bringing love, joy, and humility into our work.

9Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 7.58.19 AM

@Elation_State @DarcyRiddell: #ReconciliationEconomy: Redefining wealth and equitably managing resources #collectiveimpact #thesafeandjustspaceforhumanity #CRPWest #inclusiveeconomy

@CTAPinSK Today is the day to take a WILD leap.... first step is bold (we have built this) what is a wild step - be brave, be creative and leap beyond the status quo #CRPWest‏ @aletmanski

@AnastGaisenok "Intelligence is enlightened by heart". Powerful words by  @aletmanski at #crpwest. Let's be bold and #endpoverty. #bcpoli #alliance2030


Their presentations were followed by a dialogue with two senior policy makers (Catherine Scott and Colin James) who are leading the charge on creating national social innovation and poverty reduction strategies.‏

@411Regan Catherine Scott of @Labour_ESDC on emerging directions of federal gov social innovation & social finance strategies #CRPWEST @Tamarack_Inst

@MrsShinski Colin James presenting a summary of engagement & themes in the soon to be released Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, in which @CAPoverty participated. #CRPWEST


The event was closed with a keynote by evaluation expert Mark Cabaj (From Here to There), who addressed how we can get to the next level of framing, measuring and communicating the results of our work.

@Elation_State #ClassicCabajism from #MarkCabaj: Act. React. Adapt. 3 good ideas: Relentlessly harvest outcomes. Assess contributions, unanticipated consequences, and ripple effects. No #s without stories and no stories without #s.#CRPWest #CollectiveImpact

Vancouver Social Innovation Walking Tour

Co-designed by Kiri Bird (LEDlab), Davin Boutang (Universal Cart Project), Steven Johnston (Exchange Inner City), Johanna Li (Eastside Works) and Wes Regan (City of Vancouver), this walking tour brought event participants to a number of social innovation sites in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, including The Binners’ Project Universal Cart Pilot, the Centre for Social and Economic Innovation @ 312 Main, Potluck Café and Catering, East Van Roasters, and EMBERS Eastside Works.

@411Regan Speaking to #CRPWEST @BinnersProject shares how they provide over 150 work opportunities for their members this week alone.

@Elation_State #DavinBoutang of #Binnersproject: Meet people where they are at and give people - living in poverty - projects to lead social transformation that they will benefit from #inclusiveeconomicgrowth #listentothewisdominthesystem #CRPWest



Workshops at SFU Harbour Centre

Cities Innovating to Reduce Poverty hosted the following workshops at SFU Harbour Centre:

  • The Role of Municipalities in Poverty Reduction: The Alberta Experience
  • Human Rights in the City: Working towards recognition, institutionalization, and accountability of human rights in cities & municipalities
  • Community Conversation for Large Scale Change
  • Canadian Strategies on the Ground: The Role of Lived Experience Leaders in Complex Systems Change
  • Facilitating Provincial and Territorial Poverty Reduction Strategies: How Can our Cities Help?
  • Living Wage in the Golden Age of Minimum Wage
  • Building a Common Agenda for a Collective Impact to Reduce Poverty
  • Toward a National Network of Lived Experience Practitioners: A Dialogue

@KateGunn An amazing panel on prov/terr anti poverty work. Molly Harrington @Feathermaker & @MarkHeyck share challenges & passion for change #CRPWEST 

@Peel_Poverty Interesting workshop on meaningful engagement of people with lived experience of poverty. The ‘Creating a Culture of Inclusion’ guide is a terrific resource. #CRPWEST #nothingaboutuswithoutus 



Positioned at a unique moment in history in which cities, provinces and our federal government are all converging with independent, yet interrelated, poverty reduction strategies, and where cities are working together in an unprecedented way to develop place-based approaches to ending it, Cities Innovating to Reduce Poverty celebrated successes, facilitated learning and dialogue across sectors, harnessed the distinctive synergies of today's poverty reduction movement, and took our collective understanding of innovation in poverty reduction to the next level.

Thank you to our partners and to everyone who participated in, supported, and contributed to this event.

Read more:

Poverty Reduction, Alison Homer, Cities Reducing Poverty

Alison Homer

By Alison Homer

Advancing a vision of ending poverty in Canada, Alison provides leadership and drives excellence within Communities Ending Poverty (CEP). Her team actions an initial focus on ending working poverty, partnering with thought leaders and members from multiple sectors to identify levers and opportunities, influence policies, and shift systems.

Related Posts