Christmas, Poverty and Living in Victoria

It has been many years since I have had the privilege of celebrating Christmas in Victoria — many years of spending it in a developing country where Christmas is a day, not a season. I approached this Christmas a bit leery of being sucked into the commercialism of the season, and not wanting that to be the primary experience for my kids.  As a part of my job, I read the Times Colonist and keep abreast of what is happening in Victoria on social media — also a new experience for me. And while I am cynical about the commercialism of the season, I must admit that the overwhelming message that I received from our local media is that Victoria cares. Every day in the news are articles about people and organizations that are working hard to make Victoria a better place to live, a community that cares for its own and shows concern about the issues of homelessness and poverty. This weeks series in the TC about Hidden Poverty has been excellent — kudos to Sarah Petrescu.

Engaging people in discussion about poverty in our city is obviously not straightforward. My perception is that the folks at the TC are endeavoring to do in a sensitive and timely manner.  But the question that remains after reading these articles is — What can we do about it?  How can the average person in Victoria make a difference that will last throughout the year, not just during this season?  How can we ensure that more low-income housing is built, that organizations like The Mustard Seed and the Transition Houses are funded and that the services needed for people with mental illness are in place? How can we as a community engage with our local, provincial and federal governments to deal with these issues in our city? Talking about it and raising awareness is so important — but if there is no action, it becomes futile. 

I’m looking for a response — how do YOU think change can come about in Victoria and what can we as Victorian’s do to make it happen?