Prioritizing People to Build Community Wealth

A recurring thread in the discussions at the 2015 Spur Festival in Winnipeg was prioritizing people. The topics addressed—from hunger to poverty to human rights—all focused on the impact that decisions and actions in a variety of sectors can have on people, both positively and negatively.

Panelists and presenters shared ideas and projects, both past and present, which emphasize the ways prioritizing people can benefit society in the short—and long-term. I was particularly intrigued by the panel “Building Community Wealth” with Dr. Evelyn Forget, the Hon. Hugh Segal, and the Rt. Hon. Edward Schreyer.

They spoke about a project initiated by the city of Dauphin in 1974 that set out to eliminate poverty by guaranteeing a minimum income for all city residents. For five years, Dauphin was poverty free.

What a fascinating project! A decision was made to prioritize people, many benefits of which only came to light once Dr. Forget analyzed the project data over two decades after the project ended.

It can sometimes seem that the obstacles to eliminating poverty are overwhelming. The task is indeed large, but the benefits are even larger—for individuals, families, communities, and Canada. The city of Dauphin has shown us that it is possible. We can eliminate poverty. The path begins with a decision to prioritize people.


Ellen Paulley is a communications professional with experience in non-profit and educational sectors. Her commitment to peace, justice, and human rights work has resulted in travel and learning opportunities throughout Canada, Guatemala, India, and Mexico. She is passionate about writing stories that capture human experiences of creativity, resiliency, and capacity for positive change.

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