By Lia Bishop. As a resident of downtown Abbotsford, I can say with valid first hand experience what it is like to share a neighbourhood with ‘those people’ commonly othered, stigmatized and singled-out of participation with the larger community.
I have been lucky enough to meet, speak with and befriend some of our community members who are the most frequently ignored. Many people have asked me recently if I feel safe living on Essendene Avenue- Yes, I do. In fact, I feel protected.
I have never been harmed. I have never been spoken to unkindly, I have never been robbed, I have never felt unsafe,
I have never had my personal space violated.
Yet daily I’ve heard stories of the homeless who have had all of these experiences. There is no protection for them – not even from the cold.
Even with all the information and knowledge provided in school, media and lessons of the past we’d rather see people sleeping on the streets than on beds.
And what are we doing about it? The ADBA has misinformed many business owners and citizens. It is continuously disallowing a real community discussion. The only way this issue can be resolved is with community resource management and communication.
I’m trying to keep my trust in this town and its proving difficult.
Editor’s Note: This submission was originally published July 19, 2013. In light of this week’s news that the camp to which the homeless moved after being chased out of their last camp with chicken feces is about to be closed down we have re-published it.