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In 1989, all three federal government parties promised to end child poverty by the year 2000. Today in Ottawa, 1 in 5 children live in poverty. This is unacceptable! After the Keep the Promise (KTP) National Summit in November 2014, I was so impacted by the commitment, determination and passion of young people that I felt compelled to keep this conversation going. With 20 Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) retiree volunteers ready, and the OCSB committed to host, the conversation continued … with some 50 schools and 250 students participating.

“If any of you happens to see an injustice, you are no longer a spectator, you are a participant, and you have an obligation to do something.” June Callwood

Friday, May 4th marked the fifth KTP Student Summit with the theme “Child Poverty – Hidden in Plain Sight”. It was all about raising awareness! Participants were challenged to keep the conversation going in their schools, at home and with any adult that will listen. We hoped to ignite a spark in our young leaders, so one day they will find solutions to end child poverty. Based on the positive feedback we received from participants, it’s clear that the sparks were ignited!

It touched my heart very much and told me how hard poverty is.

I liked when we went to all the different tables because we got to see and hear about other people’s communities and opinions.

I enjoyed the “living library” because I got to see where a little dream made an impact on someone’s community.

When I go home, the first thing I will talk about is how I can end poverty in my school, community, church, and Ottawa. I can make a difference in this world.

Joanne Gosselin is a passionate advocate for Student Voice initiatives with social justice causes-locally and globally. She started her career with the Ottawa Catholic School Board in 1982 as a Teacher and has since filled many roles including Coordinator in our Student Success Department. She is the Chairperson of the OCSB Keep the Promise Student Summit, an annual event that inspires staff and students to work together to end child poverty in Canada. She is also the Program Coordinator for the National Keep the Promise Student Summit, as well as the Program Manager for Global Solutions with The Learning Partnership here in Ottawa.


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