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Living with poverty in Kings County

by Robert Devet

See video

Our brains are damaged. We have been focused on using and just surviving, trying to find a place to sleep that night. Because our mental illness or our drug addiction doesn't allow us into the shelter.”  - Tom, taking us on a tour of spots in downtown Kentville where homeless people sleep.

Where do we go in the middle of the night or after 4 pm, because heaven forbid you have a breakdown after 4 pm.” - A woman talking about her struggle with depression, and the lack of support when it is really needed.

Couch-surfing is not the life for anyone, really. You got to have a steady home, somewhere you can kick back, put your feet up and say, yes, this is where I live.” - Jake, talking about the life of homeless kids in rural Nova Scotia.

It leaks here quite a bit.” - Augusta, showing us where she lives, the steps rotting away, a roof that leaks, and a house in general disrepair.

These are just some of the people you will encounter in this video, fourteen in all, and their daily struggle to just keep their heads above water. All are from Kings County, and all live well below the poverty line.

Film maker Kimberly Smith talked to the Halifax Media Co-op about the making of the video.

“County councillors, town councillors, MLAs, MPs, and the people in the Chamber of Commerce, all the so-called professionals, educated, articulate, making over $30,000, those people are the ones that run things over here,” said Smith.

“They are very proud of how beautiful Nova Scotia is, they love that it is pristine, but they are also living in a dream world. They forget that a large chunk of the population is struggling. And the fourteen individuals that were brave enough to allow us to put their stories on line are the tip of the iceberg.”

Smith, a professional film maker specializing in this type of documentary, likes the medium of video because it gives a voice to people who are often not very literate.

“The people in my videos often don't read and write. That doesn't mean that they have nothing of value to say though, and video can actually help us have a much more inclusive community process,” said Smith.

For the same reason Smith believes video as a medium can also reach a broader audience.

“The problem with communicating through text is that you are really only speaking to an engaged community of about 10%. And that is problematic if you are trying to do inclusive community building,” said Smith.”

“Because our literacy rate is where it is at, somewhere at 50%, what it means is that when I am trying to run a campaign, or a newspaper, more than half the people simply will not read it. Not that they can't, it is just difficult enough for them that they will avoid it,” said Smith.

The video was produced by Smith in support of the Housing First Association of Kings County, a group that campaigns for safe, decent, sustainable and affordable housing for all people in Kings County.

Click here to see a shorter, more heavily edited version of the video.


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The site for the Halifax local of The Media Co-op has been archived and will no longer be updated. Please visit the main Media Co-op website to learn more about the organization.