Peg Sharing Circle - Exploring the Lived Experience of Poverty - Claudine Campbell

By Claudine Campbell, Christa Rust (Interviewer), Jason E.J. Manaigre (Technical Producer) on February 15, 2011

"Poverty is somebody that has no income at all."

At the end of her interview, Claudine stated that the last five years have been the hardest of her life. She said that she never thought that her life would end up like this. Claudine moved into the Salvation Army Booth Centre five years ago. She has some health concerns, particularly a dislocated shoulder, which can't be corrected until the pain in her head and neck are dealt with. She is on social assistance, although she wishes she wasn't.

Claudine was raised by her mother. She recalled that other children teased her, but she didn't know why until her mother explained that, because they were on welfare, some children weren't allowed to play with her. Claudine found school difficult and was a slow learner. When she dropped out of school at 17, she was considered to have completed grade 9. Claudine went back to school when she was 33, where she learned that her reading had dropped to a grade 3 level. She didn't understand why learning was so difficult until, as an adult, she learned that her father had abused her. He had thrown her onto the ground, injuring the left side of her brain.

When Claudine was 21 she had a son. The father never met him, and she moved back to Winnipeg shortly after he was born. She became depressed, as she had not wanted to be a single mother on welfare. When her son was two, she established a long-term relationship that lasted for 11 years and resulted in a second son. She says the relationship ended when her husband couldn't handle her becoming a Christian. She said that both of her sons are good workers. When they were younger, they both had after-school jobs and are both currently employed: one is in construction and the other installs signs.

Claudine has lived at the Booth Centre for five years. She applied for Manitoba Housing, at which point she learned that she owes them a debt from 10 years ago. She is quite frustrated about this, saying they never contacted her and, therefore, she didn't have the chance to start paying it off when she had the extra cash. Claudine says that when she had lived there with her children, she had owed over $800 in rent. This was as a result of missing 3 months' rent because she took her son out too often. She got behind on her bills. She paid her utilities and was ready to start repaying her rent but they still made her move out. Claudine stated that the debt was increased because they claimed she left the place a mess and charged her $300. She's currently looking for the people who helped her move to vouch for the apartment's condition when she left. According to Claudine, Manitoba Housing left the debt too long. She believes that if it had been placed with the Credit Bureau, it would only remain on record for seven years and then be forgiven.

Claudine is currently looking forward to getting her own place, ideally before the end of 2010. A new grandchild will be born in December, and she is hoping that she'll have her own place to which she can invite her family.