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Barriers everywhere - Cape Breton's Whitney Pier and Glace Bay through kids' eyes

by Robert Devet

Whitney Pier. The basket ball hoop that is fine and you are alllowed to use it in public courts but for an organized team you would usually have to pay to be in it!
Whitney Pier. A swimming pool is a barrier because some people can't afford pools,because they are low on money or can't afford it!
Whitney Pier. Most people can't afford cellphones(iPhone)because they are in need of money!
Whitney Pier. The playground is not a barrier because it is free to the public to play on!
Whitney Pier. Having a good meal is important. Not everyone can afford food.
Whitney Pier. The youth weren't sure why they took this photo.
Whitney Pier. The skateboard park is a good place for free skating because it is not a barrier! and free to the public! but you have to pay for a skateboard!
Whitney Pier. The soccer net is a symbol of soccer and how some people can't afford to play soccer in a organized team but you can play on a public field!
Glace Bay
Whitney Pier. Clothes can be expensive. We live in a cold climate but not everyone can afford a coat.
Glace Bay
Glace Bay
Glace Bay
Glace Bay
Glace Bay

The skateboard park is a good place for free skating because it is not a barrier! and free to the public! but you have to pay for a skateboard!”

Caption for one of the Whitney Pier photos

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Here are some photos taken by a bunch of kids going for a stroll through Glace Bay and Whitney Pier, two communities in industrial Cape Breton.

Their mission was to find images that bring the realities of living in poverty to life. Kids being kids, we get a bit more than that. Horizons are seldom horizontal. Some of the pictures are puzzling.

But they are all great photos, and they make you think.

About two years ago Wayne McKay, a Sydney resident who does a lot of community volunteering, took a couple of Grade Eight students for a walk through Whitney Pier. The kids were members of the Whitney Pier Youth Club. This was their community.

“Whitney Pier is a neighborhood in Sydney,” McKay tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “But people from there will tell you it is really a separate community.”

“What makes Whitney Pier so special is that it has large populations from different ethnicity, McKay explains. “There is a large African Canadian population there, there are a lot of Eastern European folks.”

The community formed and flourished around the steel mill, but when the mill closed the community went through some tough times, McKay says.

Mike McPhee, a drama teacher at Glace Bay High School, was the driving force behind the project and some of his his students are responsible for the Glace Bay photographs.

Glace Bay faces similar issues. The coal mining town went into a steep economic decline when major coal mines in the area shut down in the nineties.

In late 2014 the unemployment rate in Cape Breton hovered around 12.6 per cent, whereas Nova Scotia's rate was 8.8 per cent.  One in three children in Cape Breton live in poverty.

We are showing just a few of the photos, all 59 photos can be seen here. Captions for the Whitney Pier photos were provided by the photographers.   

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert


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Topics: PovertyArts
355 words

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