POVERTY AND SPIRITUALITY: BEYOND MULTICULTURALISM
Over the past ten years, large public housing neighbourhoods have become home to two groups -- the Canadian born poor and immigrants coming primarily from the middle east and from Somalia –whose socioeconomic, cultural and religious identities are strikingly different. This has created a tension in these neighbourhoods which has, in turn, been exacerbated by two other factors: the changes in our approach to social services and global conflict. This paper will focus on the spiritual dimension of poverty, the impact this has on the capacity of neighbourhood groups to cope with these changes and on the ability of individuals to become functioning, contributing members of our society. It will describe how faith communities can be a resource for community development and social change, drawing on examples being developed both at the neighbourhood level as a contribution to community development and at region wide as an approach to addressing the crisis in affordable housing. The theme of this paper will fall under the topic "social inclusion."
For the past fifteen years, Sue Evans has been a community chaplain with the Ottawa West End Community Chaplaincy an ecumenical organisation sponsored by area churches to respond to the personal and spiritual needs of low-income people living particularly in the large public housing neighbourhoods. She also is a founding board member of the newly formed Multifaith Housing Initiative of Ottawa, a region wide organisation which encourages and supports faith communities and other non profit organisations to respond to the need for more affordable housing. Sue has an MA in philosophy with a specialty in ethics from McMaster University. In 1997, Sue was awarded Benemerenti Medal by Pope John II, May 1997, in recognition of her work.
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