On November 21, 2017, 12 United Church delegates participated in a day-long event on Parliament Hill, in recognition of the UN's Universal Children's Day. Senator Art Eggleton and MP Liberal Kate Young, were instrumental in bringing this event to fruition. Honoured to be the Bread not Stones lead organizer of this event, I was privileged to work with many others to ensure this day was a success, including our event partners, Anita Khanna from Campaign 2000 and Darlene O’Leary from Citizens for Public Justice.

A very special thank you to our co-chair Laurel Keney, as well as Sharon Prenevost, Catherine MacLean, Dawn Monroe and Nancy Sutherland for their exceptional work and contributions to the Bread Not Stones initiative. Also joining us on Parliament Hill were: Rev. Carey Wagner (Social Justice Division, London Conference), Rev. Teresa Burnett-Cole (Glebe St. James United Church, Ottawa); as well as Christie Neufeldt (Public Witness, General Council Office), and Sara Stratton (Indigenous Justice Animator, General Council Office).

Senator Art Eggleton's staff worked diligently with us to secure a very successful breakfast and panel discussion, hosted by the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus. This was a key event of our day. Anita Khanna organized the panel discussion. Several MPs and Senators were in attendance, along with all delegates from the United Church. Joe Gunn (Executive Director, Citizens for Public Justice), Anita Khanna, Teresa Burnett-Cole, and myself were the speakers on the panel. It was an honour to address this audience and also to have Ed Broadbent in attendance.  

Mr. Broadbent, Senator Eggleton, and all senators present were presented with Dolls of Hope. (see photo above) During the breakfast, Anita Khanna released Campaign 2000's Annual National Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada. This is an exceptional, comprehensive report, including findings, analysis and recommendations. Provincial reports are also available.

On behalf of Bread Not Stones, we asked our MP, Liberal Kate Young, to speak in the House in recognition of the UN's Universal Children's Day and of our Bread not Stones initiative. We were all present in the Members Gallery to hear Kate's wonderful words! She also paid tribute to our event partners, Campaign 2000 and Citizens for Public Justice. 

Bread Not Stones campaign leaders Laurel Keney and Linda Woods with Dolls of Hope with 360 "Dolls of Hope".
Bread Not Stones campaign leaders Linda Woods and Laurel Keney with Dolls of Hope with 360 "Dolls of Hope"
Credit: 
Bread Not Stones

NDP MP Irene Mathyssen, London-Fanshawe, also made a statement in the House the day before, on November 20. Irene is a member of the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus and helped me to secure the breakfast and panel discussion fairly early on in the process. She and our local MP Kate Young, London West, have been supporters of our Bread Not Stones Initiative since our early days. 

Our official request to have 338 Dolls of Hope displayed in the House of Commons was not granted. However, Rev. Carey Wagner, Chair of Social Justice Division, London Conference, drove 360 Dolls of Hope and me to Ottawa! Laurel Kenney, my unflagging co-chair, travelled by train because there was no more room in the vehicle! The dolls were distributed to all MPs and to several Senators. Once the MPs picked up their Dolls on November 21, several of them decided, on their own, to bring their dolls into the House. We were thrilled to see them there!

Kate's staff also worked hard to arrange for Prime Minister Trudeau to make a video, thanking Bread Not Stones for our hard work to ensure a bright future for our most vulnerable children. This video is for our use and can be posted on social media, YouTube, and our websites. As well, Kate arranged for a photo, on the steps of Parliament, including MPs from all parties with their dolls. We were honoured to be included in the photo.                

As well, we arranged important meetings with Parliamentary Secretary Adam Vaughan, Families, Children and Social Development; and Ana Fujarczuk, Special Assistant, Indigenous Services. Christie Neufeldt, Sara Stratton, and I spoke on behalf of our church in the meeting with Adam. Sara Stratton and Teresa Burnett-Cole took the lead in the meeting with Ana.

MPs gather for a group pose on the steps of Parliament Hill with their "Dolls of Hope."
MPs gather on the steps of Parliament Hill with their "Dolls of Hope."
Credit: 
Bread Not Stones

Anita Khanna arranged a press conference in the Charles Lynch Press Gallery in Centre Block. The speakers were Anita Khanna, Joe Gunn, and myself, representing Bread Not Stones. The dolls were a huge hit! The press conference was later carried on CPAC, the Parliamentary Channel. News coverage included the Ottawa Metro News, Toronto Star, and Catholic Register.

We in the Bread Not Stones project wish to thank the dedicated women and men of the UCW, Social Justice Division London Conference, the General Council; and congregations across our country for their amazing support.

Most important, our deepest gratitude to our passionate dollmakers, nation wide. These caring women, men, and children create our beloved Dolls of Hope, who touch hearts and speak volumes for our 1,242,530 children in poverty.

—Linda Woods, Bread Not Stones, London Conference