By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: To quote Postmedia journalist Lori Culbert in a riveting article published in the Vancouver Sun in November, 2017: “The 350 square foot, two-bedroom apartment is a cramped, no-frills space, but it provided a safe place for cabinet-minister-to-be Shane Simpson, his little sister and his mother when they desperately needed a home”.
Today, 50 years later, The Honourable Shane Simpson – born and raised in East Vancouver – is Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction of British Columbia.
It is particularly fitting that he is representing the B.C. government this afternoon as guest presenter for the 72nd running of the $100,000 BC Premiers Stakes, considering the fact he has lived, worked and been engaged in community building activities in East Vancouver since 1971.
Mr. Simpson (“please, call me Shane”) was on hand in 2011 for the opening of the Hastings Park Childcare Centre funded and built by Hastings Racecourse and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.
It is one of five Kiwassa Neighbourhood House operations in the Hastings Sunrise Community and was singled out last month for a Child Care Award of Excellence by the Minister of State for Child Care and the Minister of Children and Family Development.
“Addressing housing and child care are long-term projects,” Simpson says. “We are not going to end poverty, but we can make it better. We can reduce the numbers and we can make life better for people.”
That has been this man’s mission – the “politician who has risen out of poverty” – since he was an 18-year-old working with single mothers determined to build a community centre in East Vancouver.
“We need to turn our attentions to the cycle of poverty and about how we break that,” Simpson says. “It is all about creating opportunities for people to move forward.”
Today we say “welcome home, Shane … welcome home to Hastings”.