Peterborough’s River Magazine gives voice to those living in poverty or low-income

Click to play video: 'RIVER MAGAZINE'
River Magazine is written by and for those of the low income community in the city of Peterborough. – Dec 7, 2017

River Magazine is a first of its kind publication to hit the streets of Peterborough.

The first edition was unveiled Thursday at a celebration launch at the Peterborough Social Planning Council (PSPC) office in Peterborough Square. River Magazine is described as the city’s only community magazine produced and published by those living in poverty or low-income.

“All writers, poets, photographers, and artists who are contributing are being paid,” said Brenda Dales, PSPC executive director and member of the magazine’s volunteer editorial team.

With the first draft of the magazine in her hands, Dales admits she teared up after reading through the copy.

“It was so moving to me,” she said. “I read the first draft the morning after my dear friend and colleague Carol Winter passed away and It was so true to our experiences and the work she did as a tireless advocate for those living in low-income or poverty.”

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The magazine is about opening doors and making sure people in the community can lend their voices and have a chance to be heard while sharing their first-hand experiences.

The editorial team decided to dedicate the first edition of the magazine to Carol Winter who died from complications due to chronic pulmonary obstructive disease in October at the age of 75, she was a tireless volunteer and advocate for the upstart magazine.

“She was a very humble person and didn’t want any accolades given to her,” said Dales. “She was a champion of the magazine and helped get the word out in the community and recruited individuals to contribute, she was instrumental in making this happen.”

Contributors, magazines volunteers, and supporters all gathered to celebrate the launch of the first issue which saw 1,000 copies printed.

River Magazine was the brainchild of local mental health worker and advocate Steven Martin who says the magazine was inspired by a similar publication in Vancouver which he said had enough money to pay people with low incomes for their work and saw a parallel in the community here.

“We have quite a large and diverse low-income community in Peterborough and it’s a community that is underrepresented,” said Martin. “These points of view are unique and can’t be found in usual publications and so that impacts the community and makes us look at ourselves differently.”

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Martin says he was surprised by the quality of work submitted and emphasizes that each contributor was paid at least $40 for their contributions and hopes it will empower those involved to continue to do meaningful work like this.

“I feel really good about it and thought it was all really high-quality content. We had to do very little in terms of editing,” he said. “I’m already looking forward to the next edition.”

River Magazine is a group effort with volunteers spanning across several different social agencies, close to 25 were involved in either helping fund or produce the first copy, and Martin says they we hope to release three to four issues per year.

Elaine Dobbin contributed to the magazine and wrote about her experiences while volunteering at a shelter in the city and gives her perspective on the pain and hardship she see’s helping others in need.

“This magazine gives us something back by providing and honorarium which helps us financially, like getting a week’s worth of groceries or something,” said Dobbin. “It also allows us to contribute and gives us a chance to be heard and for people to understand what our lives might be like.”

Copies of the magazine can be found at the Peterborough Social Planning Council office in Peterborough Square, and for those wanting to support the magazine, they can make donations there as well.


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