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Hemingway named co-chair of province’s poverty reduction task force


Minister Shane Simpson announces the chairs of the province's forum on poverty reduction, Mabel Elmore (left), and Prince George's Dawn Hemingway. Province of BC photo
Minister Shane Simpson announces the chairs of the province’s forum on poverty reduction, Mabel Elmore (left), and Prince George’s Dawn Hemingway. Province of BC photo

Prince George’s Dawn Hemingway has been named co-chair of the province’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction.

Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson announced the 27 members of his forum yesterday. The previous Liberal government refused to institute a poverty reduction strategy for the province, insisting that creates jobs was the best approach.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to champion the voices of British Columbians through my role as co-chair in this advisory committee,” said Hemingway, chair of the School of Social Work at UNBC, where she is also an associate professor. “We get much further when we work together. I look forward to working with the minister and advisory members in the coming months.”

The 27 people appointed to the minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction bring a broad range of expertise to their roles, and will provide their insights and guidance to the minister as the Poverty Reduction Strategy is developed. The forum members represent multiple sectors, including poverty advocates, people with lived experience, Indigenous people, academics and experts, along with representatives of the labour and business communities.

“Poverty affects too many people in our province. It’s time to change that and today is where we start to forge a new path,” said Simpson. “This group of advisors will support me as we work together to bring effective and permanent solutions that will lift people out of poverty and help them to build a better life.”

The announcement also marks the beginning of the Poverty Reduction Strategy engagement process, along with a website where people can contribute their thoughts on how to reduce poverty. The Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) will also facilitate in-person engagement sessions in up to 20 communities throughout the province. The dates and locations for those sessions will be announced in the coming weeks.

The advisory forum will support the minister by:

  • Identifying causes of poverty and innovative approaches to poverty reduction;
  • Recommending priority actions and principles for the Poverty Reduction Strategy that governments and all sectors of society can collectively work on and support;
  • Discussing ideas for poverty reduction generated through the consultation and engagement process;
  • Offering expertise and advice on how best to implement the Poverty Reduction Strategy in the context of other government priorities;
  • Working within communities to encourage full participation in the Poverty Reduction Strategy; and
  • Providing advice on legislation, including targets and timelines.

Hemingway has decades of advocacy, research, and leadership experience focused on the issues of poverty. Among her many titles, she is the Chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s School of Social Work, where she is also an Associate Professor. Her teaching and research centre on poverty-related issues such as aging, disability, northern/remote health, community organizing, women’s health and social policy development.

Hemingway brings a profound understanding of how poverty affects British Columbia’s northern and remote communities. She works with more than a dozen organizations committed to helping vulnerable populations—experience that will serve her well as she helps shape the Poverty Reduction Strategy. She is the co-chair of Prince George Community Partners Addressing Homelessness, a group that brings together more than 30 community agencies working with northerners who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  She also serves on the Council of Advisors to the B.C. Seniors’ Advocate.

In recognition of her work, Professor Hemingway has received the following awards: the Bridget Moran Advancement of Social Work in Northern Communities Award (2003); Today’s Woman Forging Our Future with Education & Leader in Knowledge Advancement Awards (2006); the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award (2009); and, the UNBC Excellence in Service Award (2015).

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