Open Email To Mayor Banman, Abbotsford Council and Abbotsford’s Provincial MLA’s
Good afternoon and Merry Christmas,
I am sure you are all aware of the judge’s ruling with respect to the Drug War Survivors camp downtown – a ruling that would be truly heartbreaking at any time of year, but is especially unfortunate this time of year.
I’ve been bringing my children to the homeless camp quite a bit lately. They’ve donated blankets, clothing, hats, gloves and even managed to convince a local business to donate a large bag of high quality dog food, treats and a dog bed. My children created signs and stood with the residents of the camp both times the city was expected to shut the camp down. Some have argued that the DWS camp was the last place a child should be, but I disagree. The residents were moved to tears by the support of my children. You see, children are the purest and most unbiased critics. The only thing they see is the person standing before them, stripped completely of labels. They spoke to the residents and learned their stories, heard about addiction and hardship. They played at the park while concerned residents checked the gravel for broken glass and other items which could potentially harm the children. There weren’t any. The only time my children felt nervous was when a drunken woman, leaving the beer store, decided to stop and argue with my children about why the park residents were bad people. I don’t imagine I need to point out the irony here.
And now my children are worried. They don’t understand why the camp residents need to leave. I’ve explained the legalities, but children aren’t concerned with legalities. They focus on morality – and in this moment the City of Abbotsford’s actions are coming across as immoral. Aside from the Jam in Jubilee, that park is pretty much a ghost town as far as most residents of Abbotsford are concerned. I’ve lived in this town for 20 years and rarely have I ever encountered another family in that park. Realistically, this point is now moot, but it is worth making.
My question to you all is: now what? Are there plans in place to house these people? To donate public land for use as a camp until a long term solution is reached? The land that housed the old hospital was going to be donated to the YMCA, could it not be used to keep these people feeling safe? These people are used to being robbed, abused, insulted, forgotten. For many, the DWS camp is the first time they have felt safe in as long as they can remember. It’s given them a sense of community and family. It’s the support network that they so desperately need, providing a much deserved sense of self esteem which is the most important element in realising self worth and making changes.
Entering a shelter for 5 days per month means that they will lose most of their possessions and for some, their pets – the only sense of unconditional love these people have. We all have families, warm beds, presents awaiting us next week. It’s difficult for us to really understand the struggles these people face every day. My children would like to extend an invitation to you. They would love to accompany you to the camp, where you could speak with the residents and gain an understanding of what help looks like to them. When replying, please let me know if you would be interested. They are really hoping someone will take them up on the offer.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing back from you.