Friday Vigil’s 18th anniversary: 3900 paper dolls representing poverty in Ontario

Sisters of Providence and the faithful friends of their weekly silent vigil in front of City Hall will mark 18 years of faithful witness to the need for justice, equality and peace.

Thursday, November 28
Memorial Hall at Kingston City Hall
6-7 pm

  • Speakers, including two Kingston women who have struggled with inadequate incomes
  • Music
  • Food
  • Display



You are welcome to make arrangements to photograph the dolls at any time before the vigil. We are willing to bring them to studio if helpful.

On Wednesday, November 20, 1-3 pm, a crew will be mounting the dolls made by the Sisters themselves.



It started in 1995 when a demonstration against cutbacks turned violent. One of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul figured there was another way, and began a small action outside of City Hall. Ever since, the weekly vigil has been held. Every Friday, 12:15-12:45, a faithful crew of vigil-keepers gathers to hold signs, witness for justice, and act as a visual reminder that the job isn’t done.They have addressed in their vigils everything from climate change to peace, from prison farms to the cost and availability of food, from fracking for oil to a consumer culture.

Poverty has been one of the most consistent issues.

Back in 1995, Paul Martin’s federal budget marked a milestone in shredding Canada’s safety net and the newly-elected provincial Conservative under Mike Harris launched a poor-bashing program aimed at social assistance and affordable housing. Public provision for the most vulnerable has not been restored. Far from it. Precarious jobs that keep workers below the poverty line have become a permanent feature of a two-tier labour market. Too many wore working class jobs no longer provide enough to live on. In one of the world’s richest places.

At the municipal level, after a two year campaign for a living wage for Kingston initiated by the (now-defunct) Kingston Community Roundtable on Poverty Reduction, the City of Kingston decided this fall that a living wage was a policy not worth pursuing.

How do you make that real for people? You make it visual. And that is what the Sisters and their friends have done.

Who made the dolls?

* Sisters of Providence — including those in the infirmary and in their 90s

* Sister Kay Morell’s T’ai Chi Chih students, Art Therapy and Spiritual Journey participants, who join her in a charity project each fall. She says:

My people are so generous that we ended up with 3,000! The students/ participants worked on the boards before and after their classes for over two weeks. We were very generously helped by Sr. Mary Hurley, RHSJ, and Sr. Ruth Resch, RHSJ, who put in about 20 hours of work , coming every day for two weeks. The six boards are our donation.


Other vigil anniversaries:

Detail of paper doll display 1

Detail of paper doll display 2

Detail of the 3900+ paper dolls that will be on display to represent children living in poverty in Ontario



Detail 4



Mounted paper dolls



Sisters of Providence cut out paper dolls for stunning visual display



More mounted paper dolls


Louise Slobodian
Director of Communications
Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul
613-544-4525 x150

Next week, Thursday, November 28:

Announcement of silent vigil celebration November 28 at 6 pm at Memorial Hall, City Hall


Put Food in the Budget

Put Food in the Budget videos produced by the Sisters of Providence available here. Part 1 follows ‘Dollton’ on his visit to Kingston. Part 2 focuses on John Gerretsen’s poverty challenge as he spends a day in the shoes of the poor of Kingston.

Part 1: For the ‘Dollton’ video click HERE.

Part 2: For the John Gerretsen poverty challenge tour video click HERE

UPDATE: Completed “Dear Mr Premier” video available at the Put Food in the Budget web site. To view the video in three parts click HERE
View full article »

Poverty Challenge Tour

On a steamy hot July day, Kingston’s representative at Queen’s park followed through on an earlier promise to spend a day living like a person on social assistance. John Gerretsen’s commitment resulted from the campaign Put Food in the Budget, a provincial organization calling for the immediate introduction of a $100 monthly supplement to the basic needs allowance for all adults receiving social assistance. Conditions were not perfect for this experiment, it did mimic what Kingston’s poor face each and every day. While John Gerretsen spend just one day living the experience, it was enough for him to make a promise to organizers, that change is coming. He’s invited organizers, including Tara Kainer of the JPIC office of the Sisters of Providence, to Queen’s Park to speak with MPP’s.

Additional Coverage:
The Whig – MPP gets a close-up look at poverty
The Catholic Register – Kingston MPP John Gerretsen walks a mile in poor’s shoes
Put Food in the Budget – A 2 minute preview of the final video taken during the across Ontario campaign. Full video release date is September 28.

Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety

Meet authors Ian McKay and Jamie Swift at the BOOK LAUNCH.

Thursday, June 7, 2012
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Upper Canada Academy for Performing Arts
260 Brock Street (at Clergy)

View the Warrior Nation Book Trailer!

HD is recommended.

Excerpt of a review of Warrior Nation

by Merilyn Simonds

In Warrior Nation,  Ian McKay and Jamie Swift write:

Many liberal-minded Canadians have grown up thinking that their country is characterized by certain continuing traits or values — multiculturalism, global peacekeeping and global citizenship, regionalism, commitment to a strong social safety net, and a consensual, collaborative, community-oriented approach to shared problems.

The new warrior Canada is, by contrast, a crusading kingdom founded upon specific British and Christian traditions, militantly committed to the spread of specific notions of  the market, and prioritizing military might over the peaceful resolution of disputes.

In Warrior Nation, Jamie and Ian tell stories from Canada’s past, tracing the evolution of our relationship to things military. In the second chapter we meet swashbuckling marauder William Stairs, the Royal Military College graduate who helped make the Congo safe for European pillage. A chapter called War to War to War profiles Vimy Ridge veteran and Second World War general Tommy Burns, leader of the UN’s first big peacekeeping operation, a soldier who came to call imperialism “the monster of the age.”

For the full review of Warrior Nation by Merilyn Simonds  (Kingston Whig Standard, May 19, 2012),  go to:

Mission Week 2012

Major renovations at Kingston’s St. Vincent de Paul Society will close its warehouse from mid-April to June but the lunch program will remain open. The St. Vincent de Paul folks raised over a hundred thousand dollars through an ambitious capital campaign. An unexpected estate gift of $155,000 was donated by a long-time supporter. Funds also come from private donors, the Sisters of Providence and the United Way.
View full article »

Celebrating life after organ transplant

Sister Jean Higgins, co-chair Kingston Chapter of Transplant Advocate Association.

It’s been almost seven years since Sister of Providence Jean Higgins received her new heart. She looks and feels great! Grateful to her donor and for her new life, Sr. Jean is giving back, or more importantly, paying it forward. She serves as co-chair of the Kingston chapter of the Transplant Advocate Association.
View full article »

Vocations Fair 2012

Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates participated in a Vocations Fair at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish April 21-22. The weekend event was a huge success with close to 25 exhibits highlighting opportunities in Ministry now and for the future.

Representatives from the Kingston, Pembroke and Toronto dioceses demonstrated the many exciting ways that the Baptismal call is lived out in the Church today.
View full article »

Poverty Challenge 2012

left to right: Judi Wyatt, Alexandra Klepacki, Zaineb Zimmerman and Jamie Swift.

Kingston’s Poverty Challenge is an intense one-day summit on poverty for high school students and teachers in the Kingston area. The 4th annual Challenge was held on March 28th at Duncan McArthur Hall on the Queen’s West Campus.
View full article »