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  • Erin Kelly

Brrrr It's Cold Out There! Let's Fight Homelessness Together

When I moved to Toronto for university in 2012, I knew I would learn a lot over the course of the next 4 years. And now that I'm back here in Niagara, I haven't forgotten the lessons I've learned, and the issues I've become passionate about.

During university, I did a minor in social anthropology. It would've been a major, but I didn't take the courses until late into my second year. One of the reasons why I decided that I needed a reason to take more courses in anthropology was because the reading material that we were being assigned was opening up my eyes to issues that I had been extremely sheltered from growing up as part of a middle-class family in the suburbs. The issue of homelessness tugged at my heart strings as we read ethnographies dedicated to generations of homeless people born and raised in the streets, with nowhere to go for shelter, and no friends or family off the streets that could take them in. We learned about how their circumstances made it difficult to imagine a life off the streets, and how social circles would pull them deeper into a lifestyle that kept them there. Although it's very debatable that we are all products of our environment, I don't think there's an argument against the fact that we are all influenced by the perspectives and lifestyles that we are raised in at least to some extent. I won't generalize all homeless people here, but I will say that we read about how many shelters in San Francisco were essentially run by street gangs that wouldn't allow someone outside of their circle into these shelters. Shelters were already full enough without strangers coming into them too, so people without these connections were much more likely to starve or live in more dangerous situations, scrounging for their basic needs.

Of course, I don't know what life is like for a homeless person in Niagara, Ontario (where I live). But I do know that it's cold out there, and no one should have to endure life on the street this winter. I know that there are many encampments for homeless people in Niagara, one of which was dismantled in December even though it was on remote land. Read the article here. In this article it mentions how some of the people who lived at the encampment may have returned to the camp at the end of the day, only to find that all their possessions were gone. On Feb 20, I'll be doing something about homelessness in Niagara; I'll be walking with my team as part of the Coldest Night of the Year initiative. I know this is a small gesture, and it might not make a huge impact, but at least it's something. If we were all to unite against homelessness, it could make a huge difference in our community, so the more sponsorships my team gets, the more of an impact we'll be able to make. I ask that you consider sponsoring our team by following this link.

Thank you so much for reading and for your consideration of this issue.


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