Our guest speaker today was Deirdre Pike, a Senior Social Planner for the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton (SPRC), the Justice and Outreach Consultant for the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, and a columnist for The Hamilton Spectator. She outlined many of the projects that she is engaged in. She also recognized the work that DVSRC are already doing and suggested new possibilities for the club.
Deirdre began her presentation by speaking of how inspired she had been by Bishop Susan Bell of the Niagara Diocese and her commitment to justice, equity and income equality. Bishop Bell urges people to do “church” differently, embedding their work not just in prayer but in political action. Deirdre pointed out that the Diocese’s focus on inclusion made her own employment possible, being a Catholic.  As she said: “I work with the Anglicans and pray with the Catholics”. 

The Anglican Diocese of Niagara is focussed on eliminating homelessness. It has published Public Statements on Issues of Concern, promoting social issues that need attention and action. The Diocese has taken these public statements out to the community including a presentation to The Hamilton Spectator’s Editorial Board. 

The Diocese is finding ways to provide an “income floor” so that all persons can live with financial security and dignity. It has been engaged in community conversations about Basic Income, arising from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) reality of the last number of months. Among the projects she highlighted two particular areas of social justice. Anti-Black Racism has become a priority, with work towards greater equity and further inclusion. Deirdre also highlighted the work that she has been doing in creating Positive Spaces for 2SLGBTQ youth.

One important initiative for the Diocese is providing support for migrant farm workers in the Niagara area. This is challenging work since the realities of COVID 19 and poor working conditions combine to make circumstances for the workers very precarious.