Connect with us

News

'We're everywhere now': Meet the homeless in Canada's largest city – CBC.ca

Published

 on


In a given year, 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness.

That’s a population the size of a small city. 

In Toronto, activists say there have never been so many people without a place to call their own. They use the word “epidemic.”

According to the Toronto Homeless Memorial Network, a group that tracks deaths among the homeless, 17 have died in Toronto since the beginning of October 2019.

The thing is, when people talk about the homeless it’s often in terms of numbers and statistics like the ones above — but the issue really hits home when you meet the people. 

The National’s Leonardo Palleja and Nick Purdon spent time with a number of homeless people in Toronto, here are some of their stories. 

Frenchie

Frenchie is 28 years old and has been living under this bridge in Toronto for the past six months. He says the people he meets ‘above ground’ judge him because he’s homeless. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

For six months, Frenchie (he says that’s what his friends call him) has slept in a tent under a bridge in Toronto — a few blocks from some of the most expensive houses in the country.  

Frenchie says he lost his restaurant job and had some bad luck, and after that things went downhill. 

“It’s a difficult life, but we survive. Every day we survive,” he says.

There are about 15 other people living in the makeshift camp under the bridge, a small community where he says he’s treated well. Above ground, on the street, he says people judge him.

We have a different life, but we are still human — we are not alien, we are still people.– Frenchie

“I just want to say to people, we are not that bad,” he says. “We have a different life, but we are still human — we are not alien, we are still people.”

It’s hard to know exactly how many Canadians sleep outside on a given night, but the best estimate is around 35,000 individuals.

Frenchie says he doesn’t worry that much about winter — he has plenty of tarps and blankets, and sometimes he lights a small fire in his tent to keep warm. 

Hear more from Frenchie:

‘Frenchie’ shows CBC reporter Nick Purdon where he lives in a tent under a bridge in Toronto. 0:39

Paul

At 43, Paul has been homeless for six years — ever since he lost his job framing houses in Toronto.

“I had a work injury and I also suffer from depression,” he explains. 

What’s remarkable about Paul is that if you passed him on the street, you probably wouldn’t realize he’s homeless. He doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of an entrenched homeless person many people imagine when they read statistics about the problem in Canada. 

Like the one that says 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year.

“It’s not just the bums you see on the streets — we’re everywhere now,” Paul says. 

“The vast majority don’t look like they’re homeless. It’s people who have fallen on hard times, got divorced, lost their jobs, got a work injury,” he says. 

Paul has been homeless for six years, since suffering a work injury. ‘We’re a rich country, there’s no reason for this to be happening,’ he says. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Paul says he’s lucky to have a bed at one of the city’s shelters while he’s on a waiting list for subsidized housing. 

A list that is 11 years long.

“We’re a rich country, there’s no reason for this to be happening,” he says.

Paul says not having a place to call his own takes a tremendous toll on his mind. 

“You have no hopes and dreams left anymore. You have no nothing,” he says. “People think you are nothing, and so you end up thinking you are nothing.

“You just eventually end up fading, fading away slowly.” 

Hear more from Paul:

Paul, 43, has been homeless for six years – ever since he hurt his back and lost his job. 0:11

Kevin Durance

Kevin Durance has become an unlikely activist. 

He fidgets on stage as he addresses a protest in front of Toronto city hall. 

“I know how hard I have to work just to survive,” he tells the crowd. 

Kevin Durance, who has been living in a shelter for six years, has become a homelessness activist. He’s seen here speaking at a rally in front of Toronto City Hall in December. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Durance has lived in a Toronto homeless shelter for the past six years. He knows how bad the situation is on the street, and he wants the city to declare a state of emergency and open more beds to the homeless. 

“It boils down to real humanity,” he says. “We’ve got to start caring about people.”

Activists insist high rent prices in Toronto make it hard for people who earn minimum wage or collect social assistance to afford a place to live. 

The number of people sleeping in shelters in Toronto has doubled in the past five years and now hovers somewhere around 8,000.

Still, Kevin’s wish is a small one — for people to see him and not look away when they pass him on the street. 

“They don’t see me, they see that stigma. [They think] I’m violent, I’m strange, I’m different — I’m just simple. I need someone to help me.”

Hear more from Kevin:

Kevin Durance, who has been living in a shelter in Toronto for six years, is an activist who wants the city of Toronto to create more shelter beds. 0:31

Scott

Scott used to run a small hotel in downtown Toronto. 

The day that closed, he lost both his job and his place to live.

He never thought he’d find himself living in a shelter.

“I always had money, I always had a job,” he says. “It’s getting to the point where I’m getting too old to get a job and my physical features aren’t what they used to be. Who wants to hire somebody with no teeth to go serve tables?”

Scott lives in the St. Simon’s Shelter in Toronto. He has a bunk and a metal chest to store his clothes. Homeless shelters were supposed to be temporary solutions, but now people like Scott live in them for years. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Scott hasn’t told his friends or family that he’s staying in a shelter, saying “I don’t want pity.”

He says all he wants is to get back to work full-time and have a place of his own.

“Just get back up there where I used to be, where I get up in the morning and I’ve got a place to go.”

Hear more from Scott: 

Scott used to run a small hotel in downtown Toronto, and when it closed he lost both his job and his place to live. 0:17

WATCH | The National’s feature and learn from those living it what it’s like to be homeless in Toronto:

Four men talk about being homeless in one of Canada’s richest cities. 8:29

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

News

Senegalese diplomat arrested by Quebec police owed former landlord more than $45,000

Published

 on

MONTREAL — The detention and alleged beating of a Senegalese diplomat by Quebec police last week occurred while a bailiff was attempting to seize property at her residence in connection with a court judgment against her.

Quebec’s rental board in June ordered Oumou Kalsoum Sall to pay a former landlord more than $45,000 for damage to a furnished home she occupied from Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2020. The tribunal found that she caused flooding that led to structural damage and that her use of the property forced its owner, Michel Lemay, to replace most of his furniture.

“The pictures speak for themselves,” Anne A. Laverdure, an administrative judge, wrote in her ruling. “The furniture is full of cockroaches. Pieces of furniture are scratched and scuffed. Some are missing. Everything is dirty.”

Laverdure awarded Lemay almost $13,500 for structural damage to the home and $23,000 to replace furniture. The administrative judge awarded Lemay another several thousand dollars for other damages.

Court records show that the debt was not paid and that a bailiff went to Kalsoum Sall’s residence in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, on Aug. 2 to seize property in connection with the debt.

Kalsoum Sall is a first counsellor at the embassy of the Republic of Senegal in Ottawa, according to a federal government database of foreign delegations. The Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has claimed that the diplomat had to be hospitalized after being handcuffed and beaten by police.

Quebec’s independent police watchdog said Monday it opened an investigation into the incident. Gatineau police have said that they were called to the residence to assist a bailiff and that they arrested a woman with diplomatic status after she allegedly hit a police officer in the face, adding that she was tackled to the ground after allegedly biting another officer.

Global Affairs Canada has described the incident as “unacceptable,” adding that the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations — which Canada has signed — gives diplomats immunity from any form of detention or arrest.

Gilles Rivard, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and to Haiti, said that while he doesn’t know exactly what happened during the Aug. 2 incident, some diplomats can be aggressive because they believe there will be no consequences for their actions.

“They can be aggressive because they know that they have immunity, so they believe that they can do whatever they want,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

While police are not officially supposed to arrest a diplomat, Rivard said, it’s possible a police officer might handcuff an individual while they wait to confirm the person’s diplomatic status.

“But if after that, that person shows that she is a diplomat, or he is a diplomat, normally they have to be released,” he said.

In 2001, a Russian diplomat struck and killed a woman while driving in Ottawa. The Canadian government asked Russia to waive the diplomat’s immunity so he could be charged in Canada, but Russia refused, Rivard said, adding that Canada’s only option in that case was to expel the diplomat.

Rivard said he doesn’t think the Aug. 2 incident is serious enough to damage Canada’s very good relationship with Senegal.

The Senegalese Embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Tuesday afternoon. A call to the embassy was not answered.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

News

Alberta awards prize to essay that argues women should pick babies over careers

Published

 on

EDMONTON — Alberta has awarded a prize to an essayist who argues the sexes are not equal and that women should pick babies over careers to avoid the province having to import more foreigners and risk “cultural suicide.”

The United Conservative government removed the essay from its legislature website Tuesday following an outcry of condemnation.

Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk — Alberta’s associate minister for the Status of Women and also the contest organizer and one of the judges — also distanced herself from the entire affair.

“The essay contest was intended to reflect a broad range of opinions from young Alberta women on what democracy means for them,” Armstrong-Homeniuk said in a statement.

“While the essay in question certainly does not represent the views of all women, myself included, the essay in question should not have been chosen.”

Armstrong-Homeniuk was not made available for an interview.

Her office declined to say who else sat on the judging committee and how and why the essay was chosen.

The contest advertised that essays would be judged by Armstrong-Homeniuk and other legislature members but did not specify names.

Armstrong-Homeniuk was appointed to the cabinet post in June but has been the face of the contest since it was introduced in February.

The “Her Vision Inspires” contest challenged women ages 17 to 25 to describe their ideas for a better Alberta.

The top two essays suggest ways to get more women, and the public in general, involved in public life.

The third-place winner — identified only as S. Silver — won a $200 prize to be spent at the legislature gift shop.

Silver’s essay posits that the governing mission of humanity is to reproduce itself, but that Alberta has lost its way to instead pursue “selfish and hedonistic goals.”

The solution, she argues, is to acknowledge that “women are not exactly equal to men.”

Society, she writes, should celebrate and embrace the birthing role of women and stop pushing them to put off prime procreation years while they “break into careers that men traditionally dominate.”

She says the idea that Alberta can put off procreation and instead “import foreigners to replace ourselves … is a sickly mentality that amounts to a drive for cultural suicide.”

Opposition NDP critic Rakhi Pancholi said Armstrong-Homeniuk owes the public a full explanation of how this view was not condemned but honoured and rewarded.

“Sexism, racism, hate — this is not what any government should be celebrating, yet increasingly these views are becoming acceptable in this UCP government, and even now applauded,” Pancholi told reporters.

Pancholi zeroed in on the “cultural suicide” reference, likening it to 1930s Nazi Germany urging women to be baby vessels to propagate the Aryan race.

“This is an absolutely reprehensible claim. It is a nod to the racist replacement theory that drives white nationalist hate,” she said.

The contest was run through the legislative assembly office, which is headed up by Speaker Nathan Cooper.

Cooper’s office, in a statement, said the contest was conceived and administered by Armstrong-Homeniuk in her role as regional chair of the Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentarians group.

“Neither the Speaker’s office nor the legislative assembly office were involved with the selection of the essays in any capacity, including who was on the MLA panel judging the contest,” said the statement.

“As soon as the content of the third-place winner was brought to the Speaker’s attention, he immediately made the decision for the content to be removed.

“The content is abhorrent and does not reflect the views of the Speaker or the legislative assembly office.”

Three candidates in the race to replace Premier Jason Kenney as party leader and premier also took to Twitter to criticize the award.

“It’s a disgrace that an essay saying women are not equal to men won an award sponsored by government. Women, and their contributions, are equally valuable and amazing whether we are moms or not. Can’t believe this needs to be said,” wrote Rebecca Schulz.

Rajan Sawhney followed up, writing, “Agree, Rebecca. Same goes for the comments about ‘foreigners.’ Alberta is the proud home of people from all over the world — from Ukraine, to the Philippines, and everywhere in between.”

Leela Aheer said, “Well, I read 1st and 2nd place (essays). Those were great! I’m not sure how the 3rd essay elevates women.”

Lise Gotell, a women’s and gender studies professor at the University of Alberta, said the essay perpetuates an essentialist, sexist and racist point of view stemming from the long discredited and outdated concept that a women’s role is to reproduce as a bulwark against immigration.

“The fact that it was chosen says a great deal about the views on appropriate gender roles being advanced by this government,” said Gotell in an interview.

“This essay reads like something that quite frankly could’ve been written in the 19th century.”

—  With files from Angela Amato in Edmonton

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

News

Two miners trapped in Dominican Republic rescued with help from Canada

Published

 on

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Anita Anand says two miners who were trapped in an underground mine for 10 days in the Dominican Republic have been rescued with the help of Canada.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Anand said the Royal Canadian Air Force transported mining equipment to Santo Domingo following a request for assistance from the Dominican government.

Two miners with the Dominican Mining Corporation, known as Cormidom, had been trapped since July 31 in an underground mine.

According to a news release from the Dominican Republic Embassy on Saturday, Canada was expected to send over a mining excavation system made up of machines, tools and various rescue technologies.

The statement says the equipment was provided by Machines Roger International, a mining company based in Val-d’Or, Que.

Anand thanked the Royal Canadian Air Force personnel involved in the mission who arrived in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Trending