Dawn spoke on the panel, "What is Child Poverty", at the Sharing Resources conference in St. John's. Here's what she had to say.
Hi, my name is Dawn, and I am from Conception Bay South,
in Newfoundland. I am here today to give you my personal
statement about child poverty. First, I would like to start
off by saying that poverty is not necessarily about tattered
clothing and starving children. Poverty is about missed
opportunities. Children that don't get a chance to choose
where they want to go with their lives miss out on
activities because of their social status, because they
don't fit in well enough, or because they have extremely low
self-esteem. These things need to be changed - and can
During my lifetime, I have come across many barriers. My
mother had me at an early age and had quit high school. She
always found a way to blame me for this and for other things
that she thought she couldn't do because I was tying her
down! My mother soon became very scarce in my life because
she had to work two jobs just to make ends meet for the both
of us. As I grew older, I began to hate my mother because
she couldn't give me the things I wanted. I couldn't handle
the teasing and name-calling I received at school because I
didn't look right, or didn't have all the things everyone
else had. I began hanging out with the wrong people, always
getting in trouble with the law, and constantly fighting
with my mother.
I was finally sent to a foster home that was far away from my mother, and given a probationary period. When I returned home six months later, I hadn't changed very much and still gave my mother a hard time. My behaviour soon got to the point where she couldn't take it anymore, and she called social services to pick me up and take me away. That was almost five years ago, and I have been in the same home ever since!
Last year I was introduced to the Youth in Care Network, and have been steadily involved ever since. I am also involved in the Community Youth Network where I work as a development worker, and I am a youth on the board of the Community-based Policing Board of Conception Bay South. I have since realized that I can make my life better and I can use my experiences to help young people to become or be who they want to be. My experiences can also be used to let people know how the foster-care system works, and that youth don't necessarily do something wrong to wind up in care. I want my work to turn attitudes around!