The year of Canada’s sesquicentennial has arrived. Most of us are still learning how to pronounce that word! More difficult yet, we must also decide how best to commemorate this notable moment in our history.

The official celebrations are likely to be upbeat, providing welcome moments to pause in gratitude and count our blessings. At the same time, Canadians know that not all of us have benefitted equally from the past. Indigenous leaders have already stated that they do not have much to “celebrate.” At CPJ, we’ve decided that the best way to participate in Canada’s 150th anniversary is to renew our resolve to work for public justice and the flourishing of God’s shalom in the land.

There is perhaps no better way to do this, than by ensuring our federal leaders complete the development and implementation of a robust poverty reduction plan.

Poverty is a complex phenomenon. No single policy suffices to heal all deficiencies. The goal of civil society groups in these consultations must be to support the active participation of those persons who have lived experience of poverty. They must be the architects of their own liberation. Meanwhile public justice advocates can supply good research into the most effective policy levers. Most importantly, we need to educate our neighbours and organize our communities to create the societal will necessary to ensure that governments implement the structural changes required to reduce poverty.