Living a life of non-judgement: unlearning the legacy of poor bashing in Canada with Bif Naked

Bif Naked, Canadian singer-songwriter, writer and motivational speaker has been quite active in speaking out against poverty.

Partnering with Vancouver Raise the Rates, she recently participated in The Welfare Food Challenge, sun-mth-day01-welfarefood-sqnwhich aims to demonstrate the reality of living on $610 of social assistance a month.

She wanted to get involved to raise awareness about the plight of our poor, to promote understanding, and to educate the public to dispel the myths about welfare and welfare recipients. The idea is to encourage change and to try to get the attention of those with power to make those changes: your provincial government.

Having been on welfare earlier in her life, the reality is that in today’s society, folks on welfare right now in B.C cannot afford shelter. Doing the math, it is impossible to live a healthy life after shelter, transportation, personal hygiene, clothing, household supplies, and bills are paid for. The math doesn’t add up when there is $21 per week left for food. Talk about food insecurity.

Bif learned that being outspoken in the public about poverty meant seeing what our society believes about poor people.

“I was shocked. In fact, the more questions I asked, the more I discovered that people generally are classist and racist. People can’t relate to it because they haven’t experienced it. Our country has a lot of prejudice and hate towards the poor.”

A recent article laid out the facts that income inequality is killing thousands of Canadians each year. This is class war. There is no denying that anti-poor sentiments are misinforming how neoliberal politicians allocate money to provincial housing and food initiatives.

The report that the Toronto Star article cites came to the conclusion that if all Canadians were as healthy as the top 20 per cent of income earners, there would be approximately 40,000 fewer deaths each year. The report also calculates the relative rate of mortality, comparing the likelihood of death between someone in the poorest 20 per cent of Canadians and one of the wealthiest 20 per cent of Canadians. Overall, this figure is 1.67 for men and 1.52 for women, indicating that a poor male has a 67 per cent greater chance of dying each year and a poor woman has a 52 per cent greater chance than their wealthy counterparts.
On the show we talk with Bif about food insecurity and veganism, and how being a raw vegan for over 20 years was great for her at the time, but has since become more flexible and pragmatic. Especially since kicking cancer’s ass and being a touring musician most of her life, she talks about how eating all raw and organic isn’t financially sustainable. We talk more about how veganism can be affordable and not just for white middle class folks.

We also chat about how practicing martial arts, supporting survivors of domestic abuse, straight edge, and veganism are all connected for her.

Anti-poverty groups in Canada to check out:

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Raise the Rates Ontario
Rates the Rates British Columbia
Canada Without Poverty

Listen right now

or download an mp3 of the show.


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