Thursday, October 28, 2010

Very Scary, Boys and Girls ....

(photo from Pete Rockwell, taken at the 2009 memorial to those who don't make it.)

In their latest attempt to prove just how disconnected they are from the realities of life on the streets, October 31st will be the day City Hall cuts funding to three significant shelters that house the most destitute among us. Word on the street is that homeless capitalist refugees currently finding shelter from the cold winds and rain will be kicked out of St. John the Divine, the Salvation Army, and the Street Link shelters at the end of this month. Yes, on the scariest night of the year, many homeless people will wander the streets with their few possessions, hoping not to be attacked by hooligans and bylaw enforcement officers. They’ll be expected to claw and scratch their way into a sparse 40 new shelter beds in what will no doubt be heralded by other media as a great victory – the new shelter building in Rock Bay. How many are being displaced? I don't know, but it seems there are significantly more than 40.

( a disclaimer .... everything i'm writing about here is information i've learned from people who live on the streets, and those who support them. i called philippe at city hall, he's the only councillor who gives a rats ass about them, but even he didn't know the numbers. )

Don't be scared of the homeless, kids, but be very afraid of having your heart hardened against them. It could very easily be you or me.

Rock Bay is some distance from Victoria’s downtown where the tourists play. The image City Hall has been pressured, and seems to want to present is one of a pristine capitalist playground, where the failures of a system that bails out banks and tosses its children aside will not have witness. It’s Leave it to Beaver all over again, a mythological world where mommy quietly pops little pills to convince daddy that all God’s ducks are in a row, where no children are hungry, where all are housed and happy and fed. I was in Qualicum Beach recently, it kinda looks like that – no visible native people, no panhandlers or binners or homeless. If that was really the world we live in it would have been beautiful. But it’s not, there are 200,000-300,000 homeless people in Canada and it’s eerie to be in a town that doesn’t reflect any of that reality. Surreal. Creepy.

So the failings of capitalism, the economic system that demands a percentage of unemployment to function properly, the system that rewards the ultra wealthy who got there by paying their employees minimum wage in only part time jobs with no benefits, while Native land is bought and sold for ever increasing prices, those individuals who cannot or will not fit into such a farcical and failed structure, they’re moved along like cattle, to the edges of the city, to a neighbourhood where, coincidentally, country folk used to gather to exchange their goods. (That unusual intersection where Government and Douglas and the Gorge Road connect is, I was told, paved pathways where people used to herd their animals to market.)

I don't know where the people live who've made this terrible decision, and I wouldn't want them to wake up to heaping piles of human excrement on their doorsteps the day after Hallowe'en. I'm sure there are porta potties out there for that. Oh, no homes on Hallowe'en, and no porta potties either? Oh dear ....

In other news, David Johnston’s back in jail starving himself in an effort to bring light to the horrific injustice that surrounds us all. I can’t say I completely understand or agree with his tactics, but he does what he believes will bring change to benefit all of us. And, I would like to thank whoever has provided the bursaries, apparently available through Our Place (now soooo much farther away from where the people in need have been shuffled), to study computers at Camosun. Let’s get writing, kids, this is history and we are it.