The Meaning Of The Jubilee Park Protest

You Should Really Read This If You Have A Heart – By Dovette Federspiel. Jubilee is a Jewish term used to describe the fifty year anniversary of the restoration and emancipation of the nation of Israel.

Editor’s Note: We received this as a comment on one of our stories about the Abbotsford Drug War Survivors peaceful protest in Jubilee Park. Dovette Federspiel blogs here.

The DWS has been occupying a portion of Jubilee Park in downtown Abbotsford since October 20, 2013, to register their public objections to Abbotsford’s Anti-Harm Reduction Bylaw, the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Incident during which homeless citizens and members of the DWS were attacked with chicken feces by City of Abbotsford employees, and to bring attention to the plight of the homeless in Abbotsford who have nowhere to go.


“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”

Matthew 25:35

Jubilee is a Jewish term used to describe the fifty year anniversary of the restoration and emancipation of the nation of Israel. In our culture, we call our fiftieth wedding anniversary or perhaps the fiftieth anniversary of something huge and fantastical a jubilee anniversary. Sometimes we use the term in a name to mark an occasion, like Jubilee Park for instance in Spruce Grove, AB.

Abbotsford has a Jubilee Park too actually. It is nestled in the heart of downtown Abby, and boasts a vast expanse of green grass for which people could picnic at in the summer, and a nicely pea gravelled play area with a swing and playground set. There are also many mature and wonderful oak trees that stretch upwards toward the skies. In summer I bet the park is beautiful.

Today I visited this park with my two small girls. We sat on the swings and I pushed them higher and higher as they giggled. We had fun.

Believe it or not, but Jubilee Park is home to probably a dozen, if not more homeless people where if you look closely in the picture you will see a tent pitched in the background. They keep to themselves, a lot of them rising up out of their makeshift homes upon hearing the noise of children playing. I can safely assume that I am probably the only mother who has brought her children to play here in a while.

While the girls played, I scoured the area with my eyes, making sure there were no unsafe tidbits lying around, like perhaps a needle or anything dangerous. Nothing was to be seen other than untouched play equipment, even the gravel lay undisturbed, frozen in place by the cold air. After a short play, we chose to leave. I watched the folks gather in a communal area. This area was guarded by what appeared to be a breed of scary dog. There were clotheslines, a cooking area and various other tents perched together. The people who live in this teeny sub community chatted amongst themselves, staring out at me with mistrust. I waved and smiled, continuing on toward my van. Upon exiting the park, I noticed big signs stuck to the fence, “drug war survivors” it said. “Community Housing” “Drug Addiction lives here” “Homeless have rights” and on it continued.

Like an arrow stuck in my chest, I breathed in sharply. Realizing that I was going home to a heated house in the country. I don’t have to stay outdoors all day if I don’t want to, I don’t have to fight for my life as I battle addiction, and I can look forward to a warm meal tonight, and know that I will wake up nestled in between warm blankets next to my husband tomorrow morning.

This reality makes me sad. I am blessed beyond measure.

Homelessness is a situation that has saturated our society. It exists in nice parks, in gross back alleys, along railways and next to heating vents outside of large buildings. It exists in my community.

I have been following a story since before I arrived in Abbotsford. “Community dumps chicken manure on homeless camp in Abbotsford” … and because of this disgusting show of non-support the people who were affected by the poo dump moved right into downtown in protest.

It is up to us to be the hands and feet of our Creator. The Bible has instructed us to feed and clothe the poor, to encourage and love unconditionally. When I visited this campsite today, because it is no longer a park, but rather a temporary home I felt that familiar feeling. The prompting that I ought to do something….so I will be collecting blankets and mittens and toques for the homeless in my community. This is only the beginning of something wonderful. I know that God will use my desire to help, to fulfill whatever plan he has for me. For now, I will pray and plan…searching for direction on what to do next.

Not everyone is like me, or wants the same things as I do and I know I will never fix the homeless, but if I can meet a need then I am willing. I will focus on that for now and wait upon the Lord.

11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Luke 3:11

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • The Editor says:

    Darla Sparrow Says:
    Well written, I visit Jubilee park often with my two boys, we sat in circle with the folks there as they raised the teepee, we’ve played basket ball with some of the men occupying those tents. I actually enjoy the park more with people in it.

    From Facebook

  • The Editor says:

    Gnarly Carly Says: The kids know most of these people by first name…I work with Barry, the organizer of Abbotsford chapter of the DWS. Most people don’t like my answer when they come to my office saying how terrible it must be to work in this area (right across from Jubilee)…they expect a bunch of bashing and they get the exact opposite, followed by a frustrated rant on how I can’t stand the assumptions people make about this area which I find extremely offensive since I live, work and socialize here almost 24/7.

    From Facebook

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