At the 10th annual Uptown Church Christmas dinner, Keith Smith serves dinner and warmhearted conversation to his homeless friends.
“When we first got there, the homeless people were quite amazing, very respectful, they’re wanting to know what’s happening with their lives, it was a situation where they all pitched in, got the wall in the parking lot”
In Abbotsford, you can only stay 5 days out of the month in a shelter. If you smell like alcohol or use drugs you are kicked out for 30 days minimum – very strict policy. Where are the homeless people to go? They are forced to build their own camps.
The City of Abbotsford chased them out of location after location. Chicken manure was spread on one spot, and then another camp was invaded and torn to shreds. Pepper spray was used on defenceless citizens who only wanted a safe place to sleep without harassment and intimidation.
These following videos and pictures chronicle our 25 hours at Jubilee Park. The City of Abbotsford has served them an eviction notice, but they are staying. They were camped in the park for almost 60 days. Now this parking lot next to the park is their last refuge.
What are their demands? A low barrier shelter that won’t kick them out or judge them or intimidate them.
“During the evening, when they were putting up the 8 ft wall barricade to protect them against the wind, the Cops came to investigate but didn’t do anything. But the next morning, the big bosses got on the high agenda to get a court injunction and they didn’t want the homeless people to be there. The cops arrived at 1pm, stapled a bunch of Court notices saying that they had to be out of the new structure that was built last night by 6pm. It was heart wrenching to see all the bullying police officers, 5 By-Law officers, 4 Cops, to staple up the Court notices.”“20 minutes later, Abbotsford Police brought along City of Abbotsford Maintenance Dept, blockaded the parking lot, towed a bunch of vehicles away, which is heart wrenching to see. Spending all that money just to put up a Court injunction for the homeless people ..very sad. They got surveillance cameras – drones, They Bullied them to show the Homeless People.. “We are the City of Abbotsford”, You don’t dare disrupt what we do, and you have to do what we say”
“It’s so heart wrenching, the homeless people are just people looking for some help, to live their lives in a peaceful manner. A lot of these people don’t want to go into a shelter, because they feel they are institutionalized, they feel abused, it’s hard to imagine what they are going through.”
Barry Shantz was our guide through the camp. He is the head of the Abbotsford chapter of the BC Yukon Drug War Survivors, and is the recognized leader of the group.
Welcome and blessing: Sam George
Dr Stephen Hwang – Research Scientist at the Centre for Research on Innet City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital “Canadian Crisis – the Hidden Cost of Homelessness”
Dr. Anita Palepu – UBC Associate Member, General Internal Medicine
Tom Laviolette – Director of Project Development, PHS Community Services Society
Laura Cowan – Executive Director, Street Health Community Nursing Foundation, Toronto
Michael Shapcott – Wellesley Institute, Toronto
Sean Spear – Associate Director, RainCity Housing
Meghan Thumath – Vancouver Coastal Health Clinical Practice Initiatives Lead, HIV/AIDS “Impact on Homelessness on HIV/AIDS and Approaches to Care and Treatment”
Craig Crawford (Acting) Vice President of Operations, BC Housing
Dr Bruce MacLaurin – Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, U of C “Preventing Homelessness: Developing the Homelessness Asset & Risk Tool (HART) Bruce MacLaurin on behalf of the HART Research Team”
Wendy Muckle – Executive Director, Ottawa Inner City Health “Understanding What Works – Breaking Down Barriers to Housing and Healthy Living for Women
Liz Evans – Executive Director, PHS Community Services Society “SIS: Fight for Change