Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jane Scharf, Activist

Above is Jane Scharf who is holding a protest outside the Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien's office this summer 2007 on Elgin Street, Ottawa Jane is holding her dog Angel. This picture was taken in August 2007. Jane Scharf and I have been friends for almost 20 years.

Jane has two daughters, Tracey Schaf and Kayla Welch. Tracey has a girl named Amanda.
Kayla is in high school. Kayla is deaf and she has top marks in a regular school. Jane went to jail for over a month in the mid 90s fighting for Kayla's accommodations in school. Jane won everything for Kayla. I helped her too along with many friends of hers. I remember sleeping overnight at a sit-in
at the Education Ministry on Merviale Road in Ottawa. I slept in a hallway. I woke up in the morning and staff member almost walked on top of me as I lay sleeping. I recall banging on the front door
of the offices with my heavy flashlight. Jane and I and some others sat in an office with some of the
education top executives. Someone played a guitar and some of us spoke out to support Jane.
The Ministry had a conference call going on. I remember sadly seeing Jane being whisked away
into a police cruiser to go to jail. She had handcuffs put on her. I had to look away it was just to
painful. Kayla needed the best accommodations as she was deaf. Kayla was a preschooler then.
Jane fought to get Kayla the best hearing aid that cost $1,000 dollars each. Jane fought to
get Kayla some speech therapy. Jane fought to get her a teaching assistant to help her in school
and to get her a carpet for her classroom and tennis balls put on the chairs as the regular chairs
made lots of noise for Kayla when pushed on a regular floor. Kayla has an 82% average in school.
Very impressive I say. I am very proud of Kayla.

When Kayla was born in January of 1991, I was anxious to see her. Jane and her boyfriend Tom
Welch brought Kayla to my Caldwell Ave apartment in Ottawa. She was only a few weeks old.
She had on a white bunting coat. She had a kiss curl in the middle of her forehead and straight
hair standing up. She had these big eye and looked up at me. I held her and said to her "Welcome to the world, Kayla, your aunt Sue just thinks you are perfect, the best and I gave Kayla a big kiss.
Kayla is a wonderful young woman who is vibrant, vivacious, kind, caring, smart, and nice and beautiful. Kayla has it all in one package. Watch out world, Kayla is here. After Jane and Tom left I cried out with job. I was so happy that I saw Kayla. She was a beautiful baby. Jane and Tom
looked so happy and they were proud parents for sure.
Tracey is Jane's oldest daughter. She is nice and intelligent. Her daughter Amanda was born at the old Grace Hospital in Ottawa. I saw Amanda when she was a day old in the hospital. Amanda
has this peachy fuss of hair and had long fingers. I took into my arms and tears started to flow down my face. I said to Amanda. "Welcome to the world, you beautiful baby. You have long fingers,
you should play the piano when you are older".

Tracey has a good head on her shoulders. She is smart, calm, and reliable. The type of person
any mother would be proud of. She is a good mother. Jane did a good job with Tracey and Kayla.
Amanda is a wonderful girl. She is animated and a happy child and likes to go to protests. Tracey is more reserved and doesn't like protests. She stays in the background. Kayla likes to go to protests
and she has done some speeches before City of Ottawa committees and some Ontario Legislative Committees. What comes out of the words of babes is amazing and truthful. Kids say it the way it is.
I like Jane's dog Angel which a Russell Terrier. She is so calm and cute and playful.

Jane is a human rights activist. She will support any cause she feels there is injustice whether it be welfare rights, disabled, poverty, homelessness. She puts all her heart and soul into what she does.
She is a kick ass, no nonsene type of person. She has won all of her cases. She had an advocacy firm and fought for her clients tooth and nail. She looks you straight in the eye and you better not give her any bull, she can see right through you. Jane is intelligent, tenacious, ethical and has a heart of gold.
I consider her a "sister"

When Jane and I got together to fight our causes, Jane said that the strategy between us for fighting our causes was similar to John Lennon and Paul McCartney uniting to create music, it was magical.
Jane knows how to read legislation and policy and legal papers which I do not comprehend and have no interest in. Jane was the agitator and I was one yelling out the slogans and watching everything going on. I came up with protest strategies and help make up the press releases and do research on the subject. When we went to a meeting Jane would be on one side of the room and I would be on the other side of the room, it was like a boxing match but I would call it a verbal boxing match. We knew
how to knock out opponents with our words. Jane had the info and the facts at hand, and Jane and I would get into the room and our verbal karate knocked them out. We knew our facts and people knew that. We had integrity and we had a reputation of saying it the way it is. We kicked ass really good at meetings. People saw us coming a mile away and they knew our style and knew what they
were up against. It was something to see for sure. I love protests so much, it gives me a natural
high for weeks.

I went to hundreds of meetings with Jane in Ottawa over a course of about 15 years. We got to know
all service providers, all the antipoverty groups, the political parties and what they were made of,
and who was honest and who was not, who played the game fairly and who did not, and who our
allies were. We had some and they are still tight with us.

We found out people want their funding and they can't speak out or they will lose their funding,
but I think they choose not to shake the tree and cause trouble because of their funding.
Some groups had instigators that closed them down.

Jane and I never had an office. I don't have a good computer, no fax machine and no printer.
I managed to do lots of work without any pay, hardly any equipment and no office. For almost
20 years I have worked with Jane. We worked our asses off to expose people and groups
that were full of shit, either misuing the money or exploiting people, or doing nothing at all, or pretending to help people when they weren't. We know all the groups in Ottawa re poverty.
Some were good, some were not. We publicly exposed them and that felt good. There is so
much corruption out there. A shovel won't do it to clean all of the crap that there is out there.
Some groups just cared about their funding and nothing else. Some groups worked hard and
fought hard and had integrity. One of those groups was OCLISS run by Maxine Stata. It closed
down after several years and was disbanded after people got onto the board and ruined the group
for no good reason. OCLISS did lots of good things in Ottawa for poor people. OCLISS was
becoming well known and strong in the community and some people feared their success and that
is what happened. When you get too powerful, people want to knock you down and get rid of you.

I met Jane Scharf 1988 at a protest at the Welfare office on Richmond Road on April 1988. Lynn Horne came with me to the protest. Lynn Horne was my room mate. It was pouring rain and I told Lynn I didn't want to go to the protest. She told me, "get out of bed lazy bones, you aren't gonna
melt, you aren't made of sugar". I took a shower and got dressed and we headed over to the
big Welfare office near Byron Ave.

It was raining for sure. We both had our umbrellas. A lady named Maxine Stata wore a black cape with a hat like the pope's and with a sign that dead 'Poop on the Pope". There were 15 protesters there and we circled this statue made out of iron. Arthur Pope was the Welfare Commissioner at the time. So the sign was a pun about Mr. Pope.

The protest was organized by Jane Scharf. The protest was about the new welfare policies.

There was an article in the Ottawa Citizen on April 28th which read:

By David Scanian, Citizen Staff Writer

About 15 people marched in the teeming rain outside regional government's social regional government's social services building Thursday to protest new welfare policies they call coercive
and unnecessary.

Jane Scharf, organizer of the protest and coordinator of the food bank at the McLeod-Stewarton United Church on Bank St in Ottawa (<-----correction was made) fears many people will be cut off welfare, forcing them to rely on food banks.

"We have reports of people whose benefits have been discontinued and they have no means
of support.

The protesters carrying placards and shouting "not well, not fair" circled for two hours outside the
social services office at 495 Richmond Rd, east of Woodroffe Avenue.

The new policy introduced in January, allows welfare workers to cut off recipients who refuse or leave
a job. To get back on welfare, these recipients have to make seven telephone or two personal
contacts with potential employers each day for five days. Even then, a recipient loses five days
of eligibility which for a single male means about $80.

Workers can also place recipients on supervised job searches allowing the worker to verify job
applications with employers. In extreme cases, a worker can cut off a welfare recipient not carrying
out a "reasonable" job search.

Art Pope, the region's social services commissioner, said this week that "no more than a few
dozen" recipients have been cut off since the new policies were introduced. But he said the department has not compiled precise figures.

Pope has said the job search requirements are aimed at young single males who often need a push
to look for work.

But Joan Gullen of the Citizens Advisory Committee, a social policy watchdog that has sharply
criticized the changes, said these people represent a tiny proportion of all welfare recipients.

"They didn't need to initiate these kinds of policies for a very small problem" said Gullen who
joined the protesters Thursday.

Nancy Beauchamp of the Ottawa Council for Low Income Support Services said the rigid scrutiny
of welfare recipients is based on the assumption there are lots of jobs open for them. This isn't the
case for many unskilled welfare recipients, she said.

Pope said in the past when the economy was weak, welfare workers were more lenient. But with an
unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent in Ottawa-Carleton, he said the number of employable people on
welfare should be lower. Employable recipients currently make up 68 per cent of the nearly
13,000 general welfare recipients.

Tuesday, welfare rights groups in the Outaouais said the Quebec government is proposing inhuman
changes to the welfare system. A document leaked to a Montreal welfare rights group shows the
province intends to slash welfare spending by $140 million over the next three years.

If the government goes ahead with the proposal, payments would be reduced to all of Quebec's
649,000 welfare recipients unless they're willing to take part in job training or other educational