Get to know the CCPA-NS

Get to know Lauren Matheson
March 29, 2022

This interview with Lauren was originally published in the March/April 2022 issue of the Monitor.

Office: Nova Scotia

Position: Community Development and Outreach Officer

Years with the CCPA: One Year

What are you most excited to be working on with the CCPA Nova Scotia team this year?

As we potentially transition to in person events, I am excited to maintain an online component in tandem. This would allow for supporters to continue to join us in events regardless of where they are located in Nova Scotia. Hopefully this will continue the sense of community connection I described earlier, as we enter yet another version of pandemic life. I am excited to continue to meet our supporters, and grow our basis of support. We just submitted a large letter of intent for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research grant that would allow us to build on the work including to support and train hundreds of students to do progressive policy research in partnership with community. 

Outside of the CCPA, what progressive policy issues are you following? 

I am particularly interested in Canadian drug decriminalization and the movement toward harm-reduction support services as the norm. By meeting individuals where they are at, without the agenda of coercion, the threat of state punishment, Harm Reduction is founded on a non-judgemental supportive approach centring human rights and the inherent dignity of all members of our communities. It is a principle that should underpin how we build public policy broadly. Imagine if we built all public policy from the standpoint of minimizing harm, on an ongoing basis? The practice of harm reduction must extend into how we build public policy, to ensure we are not further creating conditions of exclusion, punishment, and conditional social support for traditionally excluded members of our communities.   

When you aren’t at work, how do you fill your time? 

I have two senior dogs and we spend a lot of time hiking trails or walking along one of the nearby beaches. My love of and access to the outdoors has been especially helpful during the past two years when social restrictions have impacted our ability to gather together or play group sports. I also love playing ultimate frisbee and volunteer as a birth doula, something I am extremely passionate about.

What are some challenges that are prominent in the region where you live?

A lack of safe affordable accessible housing is a challenge I worry about daily. Despite Provincial plans to increase affordable housing across Nova Scotia, currently thousands do not have a place to live, affordable rentals are limited and all levels of governments’ perspective on what is considered affordable is missing the mark. Despite the worry related to these challenges, I also find hope in the many people and organizations (CCPA-NS included) working to change the reality of affordable housing in NS for the better. I worry about the toll the pandemic has taken on everyone and that our systems are unable to meet the needs, which has only worsened.

What gives you the most hope right now?

I have hope because of the continued motivation from progressive activists and advocates in NS. There are many groups who show up day after day to fight for fair wages, access to paid sick leave and affordable housing, and work toward ending discrimination. For example, a small group of people, just produced a 218 page report on what defunding the police would mean for Halifax, and how we can envision communities that move more toward being caring, and away from our carceral approach. We are thrilled to see that the report incorporates the vision from our Housing for All report released in 2021, detailing 95 recommendations to ensure meaningful access to safe, permanently affordable, secure, supported and adequate housing for all in Nova Scotia. There is hope in presenting alternative visions and a path forward, something we at CCPA-NS are keen to continue to do.