Recently a person that we were just starting to know, died as a result of a fire in their encampment. Two Thursdays ago, he lingered at The Dale’s breakfast-to-go. He wanted to help and carried some empty trays back into the building. That was the last time we saw him.
This morning we received the news that another encampment fire happened overnight. Fortunately, no one was hurt but everyone’s belongings were destroyed. As we gathered some supplies for these community members, one person shared how devastating an event it was. As I write, I am trying to imagine what it would be like to have a fire rip through my home.
The harsh reality for many people is that home must be made in a tent. There are few to no shelter beds available on any given night. Housing is the opposite of affordable. And while the City can exercise discretion and open Warming Centres before it hits 15 below Celsius, they rarely if ever do. In order to not die from exposure, people light fires. I would too.
This is a crisis that impacts very real people: each unique, each with a name, each with a story. It’s likely, since we are more interconnected than we sometimes realize, that we all know someone who is acquainted with the shelter system, lived in a tent, or couch surfed. None of us are immune from the potential of poverty.
Oftentimes the issues that surround all of this feel insurmountable, but I don’t want to give up hope because of that. Sometimes all I can do/all The Dale can do is look for the next little step to take. Today that means giving our friends new tents, sleeping bags and…