Truth is, that wasn't normal by any means. As a society, our relationship with homeless people is simple; either you drop a coin or walk by. It's impossible to connect with people as people because we let ourselves get divided only by borders, but also by our occupations, social status, and other arbitrary self-imposed barriers.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada got $110 million from Health Canada for a homelessness study conducted in five cities. While I am all in favour of research, I have to wonder if this project was necessary. This research has already been done in other countries. How many times do you have to replicate a study before you accept the results? This is more money spent on research and not on housing and treating the most vulnerable in our society.
Shelters and soup kitchens haven't demonstrated an ability to provide long term solutions for the majority of chronically homeless people. They should be an integral part of alleviating homelessness, but they don't have the financial capacity to solve the problem on their own. Moreover, it isn't fair to let City residents bear the entire cost.
The really unfortunate part of the "homeless spikes" panic is that everyone leapt to blame the property owners rather than addressing the issue: we have a homelessness problem. Gawking at the symptoms rather than searching for a cure is a waste of time. Those solutions exist, and are widely agreed upon by experts. It's time that provinces and municipalities move aggressively to mitigate homelessness.
In the 21st century, we spend a lot of time looking down -- obsessively checking our phones, typing away at our computers, or absorbed in a TV screen. Every now and then our point of view needs a little refreshing, which is why I wanted to focus on the "forgotten" wall of interior design -- the ceiling!
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.