That title came from Christopher Lee Sandham, I interviewed him for
“Taking The Fall.” I was walking from dinner at Our Place the other
day and I saw him pass on his bike, I smiled all big, and, what a
beautiful smile that formed on his face and came beaming back at me.
Two seconds later he came around again, that smile still beaming off
his face all bright like and he stated the above.
When asked, why do you do street level activism? There’s your answer.
It works. It builds community because we meet. Food Not Bombs
builds community simply because it is a place to share food, to
supper together. Aids Vancouver Island has many shared meals for
folks to come together and build and strengthen their communities.
Floyd’s Diner has taken on with others a wonderful community supper,
many housed and unhoused attended this great community event.
Simply, for us to share a meal together across difference, housed and
homeless. It works if you work it.
There is a great concern over the homeless situation, and, sadly,
many are reactive in regards to the topic, me too. We have BIG
feelings about “poverty” which are often confusing and tear us apart.
We are more aware of how we support a system that is luring,
destructive, violent and tells us we are powerless to change. It
screams so many demands at us on TV and media that we need
professionals to help guide us through. Police to protect us. Most
are too busy to “get involved.” Most hide behind beliefs based on
isolated experiences and allow TV to fill in the rest. We are scared.
Suddenly like “the hundredth monkey” (read the book) a special
interest group formed here in Victoria naming itself the “Good
Neighborhood Agreement.” A local grass roots group, the Committee To
End Homelessness Victoria does a documentary on the state of
homelessness, the police state, and our solutions. Reverend Al Tysick
leaves Our Place and forms Victoria Dandelion Society, and the Belfry
Theatre announces a homelessness project using Verbatim Theatre. All
of this happened in the last couple of poverty pimping years.
We also had a BIG Olympic party. Many still suffer the consequences of
10 billion being wasted. Many were dislocated. Salmon farms threaten
our wild salmon, Enbridge crisis escalates, the
judicial system and its police come under the biggest moral attack in
our Canadian history as the Missing Women’s Inquiry moves forward,
our local police force under Jamie Graham gets a HORRIBLE report card
Internationally and temporary poverty pimping institutions are built
while there are far too many empty buildings all over Victoria.
Reverend Al suggests that there are pretty much the same numbers on
the streets as there were a couple years ago?
Our Place is under new rules and regulations, and many on the street
are strongly suggesting they change their name. One of the biggest
noticeable changes is how it is common now to have police in the
courtyard, on a daily basis, especially over meal times. I saw two
officers come in downstairs, no staff escorting them, they approached
a female, the female officer stated something to her and, the woman,
looking suddenly distressed, had to go into the bathroom with the
officer following. THERE WAS NO STAFF WITH THE OFFICER! I cannot
express how unprofessional that is, how intimidating for this woman!
I was so angered! There should be a witness in there with her, for
her safety. On another day, two other non uniformed went right up
into the eating area, looking out over us all, searching, NO STAFF
I worked front line for almost 20 years. Treatment, halfway house,
detox and an emergency shelter, I have never seen such unprofessional
behaviors when it comes to rapport with police. Like Rock Bay
Landing, I wonder when the cop shop is gonna set up at Our Place. At
Rock Bay Landing last week for follow up filming for “Taking The
Fall,” I had a conversation with a 50-60 yr. old indigenous woman
was curled up under a tree across from Rock Bay Shelter.
I offered her tobacco and asked why she was on the ground,
she stated there was “nowhere to sit inside, not enuff
chairs means they’re always full and the floors are disgusting. She
cried the whole time she shared her story. It helps us all to
consider why we need to allow a person to sleep under a tree!
Just for the record, our Committee To End Homelessness Victoria,
which has been meeting at Our Place, is discussing whether Our Place
is the place for us. We do like to think all street folks, no matter
what their stature, can come and eat, partake at the watering hole
without police bringing such an oppressive state to the supper table.
There may be some who enjoy the police presence, I suggest you invite
them over to your house, maybe an open ended invite, so that they can
just walk in when ever or for what ever reason they deem necessary.
Our Place can be professional and escort, as well as announce, the
presence of police on premises.
Even after meetings with Police and Police Board, the police still
mostly if not all the time just ride on in, walk on in, past staff and
that my friends is disrespectful not to mention abusive!
kym hothead hines
visitor on WSANEC and Lkwungen Territory’s