Marchers missed opportunity to reach out to homeless

Whose lives are testimony to abandonment, to blame, to harsh and retributive commentary.

Marchers missed opportunity to reach out to homeless

Re: Concern about Wellness Centre on York Road.

I am very heartened to read of the community’s support for a wellness centre for people living with addiction in our Valley. According to several people on Facebook and some marchers and organizers quoted in local media, everyone supports the concept.

It is just the location. You see, people dropping their kids off at school drive by the homeless shelter and they are already seeing far too much of what happens when you’re homeless and living with addiction. In this culture, in our society, it is like you are garbage, dumped to the side of the road. “Failed humans”, unable to overcome whatever trauma (ironically mostly childhood trauma — according to experts on addiction) that got you there in the first place. It is, admittedly, a fearful sight. Especially if the same authorities that dumped them there are assuring you they will not do the same when your turn comes. One can be forgiven for having doubts.

I think the marchers missed an opportunity on Saturday. Holding signs about being betrayed and sold out by their MLA or government, they walked right past the shelter, housing dozens of people who could have spoken the truth of that message loud and clear. Without the use of megaphones. Whose lives are testimony to abandonment, to blame, to harsh and retributive commentary.

What would it have been like if the march had paused at Warmland and, I don’t know, played ‘Imagine’ in the background, while helping those they seek better treatment options for to join the parade, share their stories and testify to the truth underlying the marchers’ fears?

What if, when the centre opens, as it surely will, the marchers returned bearing food and beverages, blankets and lawn chairs, pop-up shelters and recording devices? What if they surrounded those hopeless, abandoned people with as much love and care as they could, in a time of COVID and social distancing?

What if they said to this government that has just had the temerity to call an election in its own self interest, that they are not willing to support any political party that acts by half measures when it comes to supporting and treating the traumatized while doing all they are able to ensure their own political survival? What might change then?

I hope it is a response that will be considered. We are all in this together.

Keith Simmonds



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