“The world screamed past me. I lived amongst the Ewok shadows; I groaned misery and shifted as they did. I longed to be part of something again, to be known and accepted, to hear my name. No one ever said my name anymore. I never told anyone who I was for fear of being found out. For what? I didn’t know. I’d forgotten years ago.”
― Jesse Thistle, From the Ashes: My Story of Being Indigenous, Homeless, and Finding My Way
This poignant description of homelessness from Indigenous author Jesse Thistle is unforgettable. It is a stark reminder of what homelessness does to people – erases their self-identity.
And nobody should have to suffer through that. Locally, Centre of Hope, a daytime drop-in centre for the homeless has been working to combat this issue. This Saturday, June 4, 2022, you are invited to lend them a hand for the 10th annual Hope in the Dark event, which raises awareness for our homeless, and invites the community to sleep rough for one night. It will take place at J. Howard Pew Park in Waterways from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The 10th anniversary celebration will also include a family movie in the park – Up, a BBQ, Zumba, and live music. There are 10 participants already registered, who will be fashioning a “beautiful designer shelter out of a cardboard box.”
Tracy Shulko, Fund Development and Communication Coordinator for the Centre of Hope joined the organization this January and is overseeing the event.
“Hope in the Dark is hosted to raise awareness on homelessness in our community. Homelessness, in turn, amplifies poor mental health, and the stress of experiencing homelessness may exacerbate previous mental illness and encourage anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness, and substance use. Together we can be the change while having some fun,” explained Shulko.
“Community-based mental health services play an important role. Homelessness could be drastically reduced if people with severe mental illness were able to access supportive housing as well as other necessary community supports. They encounter more barriers to employment and tend to be in poorer health than other people experiencing homelessness. Housing outreach services that provide a safe place to live are a vital component of stabilizing the illness and helping individuals on their journey to recovery,” she added.
She encourages everyone to attend to “support our homeless population by experiencing what it would be like to sleep under the stars without the comfort of home. This is awareness and compassion for what our homeless endure every night.”
Tickets are available here.
About the author
Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.