Despite the many upstanding, ethical police officers out there, the force has given the public numerous reasons to question its conduct. There have been a number of high profile cases of alleged police brutality in Canada and Quebec, including the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, the 2012 Quebec student protests, and the Robert Dziekanski taser incident.
As winter came roaring into Toronto over the past few weeks, many Torontonians -- close to 228,000 to be more exact -- were left in the dark and without power for up to a week as a result of the freezing rain that blanketed the city. In total, the damage and cleanup is estimated to cost the city $106 million. It has been a punishing start to what could be a very long, bitter winter.
In Abbotsford, a letter allegedly from "The Abbotsford Downtown Homeless Association" was recently delivered to the doors of local businesses. The letter was snapped and posted all over Facebook, sparking huge debates regarding the homeless in the city. Before seeing this post, I had no idea there was so much going on with the homeless in Abbotsford.
For much of my youth, I lived outdoors. I figured that's the price you pay for chasing your own dream instead of someone else's. Lord knows, I'd rather write than pee indoors. Nowadays, it's called being homeless but back then it was living outside and was a perfectly respectable way to make time for doing what you loved to do.
The multiple tragedies faced by individuals living on the margins are further complicated by homelessness, which is in itself disempowering, painful, destructive, and unpredictable. It is in this pandemonium that there is little opportunity to reclaim personhood, control and clarity which is necessary to make healthier and richer decisions. They are barely recognized as persons let alone seen as having the capacity to make choice. There is so little our friends on the streets can take responsibility for nor are they even given many opportunities to claim responsibility.
They are typically from impoverished families, where addiction, neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse were prominent. They usually do not have a high school diploma. Most of them started abusing drugs and alcohol between the ages of 11 and 15, as an escape from the neglect and abuse that they were suffering at home.
Homelessness is a national crisis. It affects every Canadian directly. It is time to be bold and courageous, to seek out alternative solutions and radical options. We must take risks and find new ways to work together to bring our nation to a better place where everyone is valued and cared for regardless of circumstance or choice.
I'd been clean for about a year and a half. I'd forgotten what the date of my last blast was, and I was happy about that. I liked the new me a lot more than the old me: The new me didn't owe back rent, and even had a bit of money for groceries. The one thing the new me couldn't do, though, was write.
On any given night in Canada, 30,000 people are homeless. These are people -- men, women, and families -- who are unsheltered, in emergency shelters, or in temporary "provisional" accommodations. The report also notes that as many of 50,000 Canadians may be "hidden homeless;" those who are staying with friends, family, or relatives, but it can be difficult to gather correct data for these instances.
The youth I have spoken to over the years have described Toronto's shelter system as a dangerous place for LGBTQ youth because of prolific homophobia and transphobia. I have heard stories of youth living in parks because they did not feel safe in the shelter system due to daily threats of homophobia and transphobia.
Something largely overlooked by wide media coverage of the federal government's Economic Action Plan 2013 was that it marked a significant change in the way we will tackle homelessness in this country. The policy lens dramatically shifts from supports for "helping the homeless" to "ending homelessness."