On October 10th, 2018, Eden Health Care Services hosted a one day workshop focusing on the topic of homelessness with approximately 100 persons in attendance. Our presenters helped to bring into focus the hiddenness of homelessness within our country, our cities and our own surrounding community.
Dr. John Rook (Managing Director of The Mustard Seed Ministry in Calgary) highlighted that it costs more for someone to be in a shelter than to assist them in getting housing. John stated, “you don’t earn the right to housing”, “you don’t have a home unless you are safe and happy” and that “childhood trauma is the most significant reason for homelessness”.
Some statistics related to the issue of homelessness:
- At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year, with 4,000 – 8,000 being “chronically homelessness”.
- Families stay in shelters 2x as long as individuals (youth & adults stay an average of 10 days).
- Of the 30,000 Canadian homeless on any given night, 2,880 are unsheltered and 7,350 are in violence-against women shelters and18% of homeless are youth.
John Janzen (Community Education Coordinator at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg), noted the most effective ways to fight poverty and homelessness, with a primary focus on building healthy communities through broadening our relationships and inter-connectedness with one another.
Al Wiebe shared his personal experience of what it’s like to tumble from a successful career to homelessness, living in a car, depressed and contemplating suicide. We heard of what it took for him to beat the odds to regain hope, healing and community.
We were also blessed to have Bev Dyck (Program Director for Eden’s Housing and Supports Program) and Lori Penner (Central Station Community Centre, Winkler) share about how their respective programs related to the issue of homelessness.
Finally, Carolyn Ryan (Acting Chief Operating Officer, Manitoba Housing and Community Supports) outlined the National Housing Strategy and how it relates to our provincial context as well as how it relates to us in the rural setting. Carolyn noted Manitoba Housing’s new policy that “no one will be discharged from a Manitoba Housing facility/program into homelessness”.
The day closed with John Rook challenging us to be engaged in our community, to treat people with respect, to remember that every person has a story and that we need to take the time to unpack these stories, and when we do, we will understand someone’s “life pain”. Let’s take the time to walk with others in their “life pain”.
Chair of Eden’s Dr. Clarence H Labun Lecture Series Committee
Eden Health Care Services, Winkler, MB