Financial Literacy Workshop at Lakehead University on January 9 2018

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Ontario's "Joe Debtor" has too much month left at the end of the money.THUNDER BAY – The end of the holiday season leaves many people wondering where the money went and how they’re going to make ends meet in the year ahead. A special financial literacy workshop at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay on the evening January 9th aims to help participants understand the bigger picture when it comes to personal debt.

“Most financial literacy classes focus on shaming people for being economically irresponsible. But the fact is we live in a system that depends on the production of more and more debt, and most people just get caught in the middle.” Says Dr. Max Haiven, one of the workshop’s facilitators and Lakehead University’s new Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media, and Social Justice. “In our workshop, we don’t focus on financial skills for individuals – we offer a fun and accessible way to learn why so many of us are struggling, and what we can do about it.”

The workshop is being hosted by the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL), that Haiven co-directs with the Cassie Thornton, an American artist who works globally on issues of debt and money. Thornton was also a member of the US-based anti-debt activist group StrikeDebt, which evolved from Occupy Wall Street.

“Being in debt is a lonely, isolating experience because in this competitive society we wrongly think that financial suffering is a moral failing.” She explains. “But if so many of us are so deeply in debt, what would happen if we could recognize it and come together to support one another?”

“This is a workshop for everyone.” She adds. “Topics of money and economics can seem intimidating and most of us try and avoid them. But Max and I have been working for years at making learning about these subjects engaging and even fun.”

The workshop will include open discussions, participatory exercises, a film screening and a discussion. The organizers say everyone is welcome, that there will be free pizza, and that bus fare and a child care subsidy are available for anyone who needs it, though they’re asking participants to RSVP by January 6 via RiVAL’s website (rival.lakeheadu.ca), email (info.rival@lakeheadu.ca) or by phone (807-343-8282).

“The ReImagining Value Action Lab is a new space we’ve created to foster research but also to do public outreach like this workshop,” Haiven explains. “It’s a place to learn and experiment with different ways of thinking about our society, especially about the economy.”