ImageTime to bring some dignity to

the situation

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