Solving Poverty: Innovative Strategies from Winnipeg’s Inner City by Jim Silver

In Solving Poverty, Jim Silver, a veteran scholar actively engaged in anti-poverty efforts in Winnipeg’s inner city for decades, offers an on-the-ground analysis of this form of poverty. Silver focuses particularly on the urban Aboriginal experience, and describes a variety of creative and effective urban Aboriginal community development initiatives, as well as other anti-poverty initiatives that have been successful in Winnipeg’s inner city. In the concluding chapter Silver offers a comprehensive, pan-Canadian strategy to dramatically reduce the incidence of urban poverty in Canada.

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Decolonizing Employment: Aboriginal Inclusion in Canada’s Labour Market by Shauna MacKinnon

Indigenous North Americans continue to be overrepresented among those who are poor, unemployed, and with low levels of education. This has long been an issue of concern for Indigenous people and their allies and is now drawing the attention of government, business leaders, and others who know that this fast-growing population is a critical source of future labour. Shauna MacKinnon’s Decolonizing Employment: Aboriginal Inclusion in Canada’s Labour Market is a case study with lessons applicable to communities throughout North America. Her examination of Aboriginal labour market participation outlines the deeply damaging, intergenerational effects of colonial policies and describes how a neoliberal political economy serves to further exclude Indigenous North Americans.

MacKinnon’s work demonstrates that a fundamental shift in policy is required. Long-term financial support for comprehensive, holistic education and training programs that integrate cultural reclamation and small supportive learning environments is needed if we are to improve social and economic outcomes and support the spiritual and emotional healing that Aboriginal learners tell us is of primary importance.

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Social Determinants of Health in Manitoba, 2nd Edition edited by Lynne Fernandez, Shauna MacKinnon and Jim Silver

“This 2nd Edition of the Social Determinants of Health in Manitoba is a timely reminder that the health of people is determined more by economic and social inequality than by germs and diseases.  In keeping with the 1st Edition, this is an excellent collection of papers by experts in the field.”  — John Loxley, Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba

This book examines the social and economic conditions that contribute to health inequities in our province, and aims to make the social determinants of health approach better known to Manitobans. The book looks at a range of social determinants, examines their status in Manitoba, and considers the kinds of policies that could be implemented to improve health outcomes.

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Poor Housing: A Silent Crisis edited by Josh Brandon and Jim Silver

Across Canada, there is a severe shortage of decent quality housing that is affordable to those with low incomes, and much of the housing that is available is inadequate, even appalling. The poor condition of housing for those below the poverty line adds to the weight of the complex poverty they already endure, which includes worsening health, adversely affected education and neighbourhoods that are more prone to crime and violence. Using Winnipeg, Manitoba, as an example, Poor Housing examines the real-life circumstances of low-income people who are forced to live in these conditions. Contributing authors examine some of the challenges faced by low-income people in poor housing, including difficulties with landlords who abuse their power, bedbugs, racism and discrimination and a wide range of other social and psychological effects. Other selections consider the particular housing problems faced by Aboriginal people and by newcomers to Winnipeg as well as the challenges faced by individuals living in rooming houses. Finally, the authors describe a number of creative and successful housing strategies for low-income people in Winnipeg, including Aboriginal housing co-ops, a revitalized 1960s-style public housing complex and a highly creative repurposing of an inner-city church into supported social housing. In these successful cases, communities and governments have worked cooperatively to good effect.

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About Canada: Poverty by Jim Silver

For a country as wealthy as Canada, poverty is utterly unnecessary. In About Canada: Poverty, Jim Silver illustrates that poverty is about more than a shortage of money: it is complex and multifaceted and can profoundly damage the human spirit. At the centre of this analysis are Canada’s neoliberal economic policies, which have created conditions that make a growing number of people vulnerable to low income, vanishing public services and poor physical health. Silver also highlights the ways in which poverty is intimately connected to colonialism and racial and gender discrimination, and finds that the political and economic policies enacted by the Canadian government serve only a powerful minority, while producing a range of negative outcomes for the rest of us, especially the poor. Silver points out that the costs of poverty — relating to health care, crime, education and unemployment — are higher than the costs of solving poverty, and he lays out an achievable strategy for its dramatic reduction in Canada. When poverty is understood as resulting from political choices, its elimination requires putting pressure on governments to ensure that different choices are made.

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Indians Wear Red: Colonialism, Resistance and Aboriginal Street Gangs by Elizabeth Comack, Lawrence Deane, Larry Morrissette and Jim Silver

With the advent of Aboriginal street gangs such as Indian Posse, Manitoba Warriors, and Native Syndicate, Winnipeg garnered a reputation as the “gang capital of Canada.” Yet beyond the stereotypes of outsiders, little is known about these street gangs and the factors and conditions that have produced them. “Indians Wear Red” locates Aboriginal street gangs in the context of the racialized poverty that has become entrenched in the colonized space of Winnipeg’s North End. Drawing upon extensive interviews with Aboriginal street gang members as well as with Aboriginal women and elders, the authors develop an understanding from “inside” the inner city and through the voices of Aboriginal people — especially street gang members themselves.

While economic restructuring and neo-liberal state responses can account for the global proliferation of street gangs, the authors argue that colonialism is a crucial factor in the Canadian context, particularly in western Canadian urban centres. Young Aboriginal people have resisted their social and economic exclusion by acting collectively as “Indians.” But just as colonialism is destructive, so too are street gang activities, including the illegal trade in drugs. Solutions lie not in “quick fixes” or “getting tough on crime” but in decolonization: re-connecting Aboriginal people with their cultures and building communities in which they can safely live and work.

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Moving Forward, Giving Back: Transformational Aboriginal Adult Education edited by Jim Silver

Aboriginal people who choose to improve their education as adults often face many challenges, most of which arise from the ongoing impact of colonialism and of racialized poverty. Yet in Winnipeg’s low-income inner city, a variety of innovative and effective Aboriginal adult education initiatives have emerged. Drawing upon the voices and experiences of Aboriginal adult learners themselves, this book describes the initiatives and strategies that have proven successful and transformative for adult Aboriginal students.

These programs also positively influence the lives of the students’ families and are even felt on the community level, functioning as anti-poverty initiatives. Moving Forward, Giving Back posits that effective Aboriginal adult education initiatives need to be dramatically expanded to improve the health and vibrancy of Aboriginal people and communities across Canada.

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Good Places to Live: Poverty and Public Housing in Canada by Jim Silver

Public housing projects are stigmatized and stereotyped as bad places to live, as havens of poverty, illegal activity and violence. In many cities they are being bulldozed, ostensibly for these reasons but also because the land on which they are located has become so valuable. In Good Places to Live, Jim Silver argues that the problems with which it is so often associated are not inherent to public housing but are the result of structural inequalities and neoliberal government policies. This book urges readers to reconsider the fate of public housing, arguing that urban poverty — what Silver calls spatially concentrated racialized poverty — is not solved by razing public housing. On the contrary, public housing projects rebuilt from within, based on communities’ strengths and supported by meaningful public investment could create vibrant and healthy neighbourhoods while maintaining much-needed low-income housing. Considering four public housing projects, in Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax and Winnipeg, Silver contends that public housing projects can be good places to live — if the political will exists.

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Doing Community Economic Development by John Loxley, Kathleen Sexsmith and Jim Silver

Challenging traditional notions of development, these essays critically examine bottom-up, community economic development strategies in a wide variety of contexts: as a means of improving lives in northern, rural and inner-city settings; shaped and driven by women and by Aboriginal people; aimed at employment creation for the most marginalized. most authors have employed a participatory research methodology. The essays are the product of a broader, three-year community-university research collaboration with a focus on the strengths and difficulties of participatory, capacity-building strategies for those marginalized by the competitive, profit-seeking forces of capitalism. no easy answers are offered, but many exciting initiatives with great potential are described and critically evaluated.

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Transforming or Reforming Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Community Economic Development edited by John Loxley

Growing worldwide interest in community economic development has led to a blossoming of “how to” manuals,as well as analyses of co-operatives, development corporations, gender, financing, etc. Yet in all this discussion very little is said about the basic objective of CED: Is it designed to fill holes left by capitalism or is it intended to replace it? There is equally little on a theory of CED. This book draws on several disciplines—particularly economics, sociology and political studies—to assess the state of CED theory and to identify implicit issues for building that theory. It emphasizes the necessity to draw theoretical insights from each discipline, in the process howing the efficacy of interdisciplinary approaches. It concludes with a discussion of both future theoretical directions and of what existing theory has to say about achieving a transformative CED.

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