Letter to the Editors, Arthur-in-Summer 2019: 13 Ways to Support Those who are Tenting in Downtown Parks

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.
  1. It’s hot and muggy and uncomfortable outside. Drop off donations of ice, cold beverages, boxes of popsicles, sunscreen, hats.
  2. There is a 40 to 60 percent chance of rain (and storms) today and tomorrow [July 19 and 20]. Drop off tarps, rain ponchos, and any extra rain boots that you might have kicking around.
  3. People have been in the park for 19 days now without regular shower or laundry access. Drop off NEW underwear (all sizes, all genders), socks, and baby wipes.
  4. For many people staying at the camps, lunch and supper are covered by the One Roof meals. Drop off coffee, baked goods and fresh fruit any morning between 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and help people wake up to a bit of breakfast and care.
  5. Public frustration towards campers is increasing and many people in Peterborough are pushing to evict campers because of the perception that they are making a mess and/or creating health and safety risks. Drop by with a garbage bag and help keep the park clean. Clean up and arrange the donations tent to be tidy.
  6. Write to City Councillors and let them know that if they are to evict tenters, they must give fair and formal notice. Ensure that those giving notice approach from a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive way, and ensure that people are not criminalized for being homeless. Ask that the city communicate its plan regarding eviction publicly.
  7. Write to Police Services and the Police Services Board asking that if they are to become involved in any way that they work with mental health workers. Instruct their officers to approach from a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive way and ensure that people are not criminalized for being homeless.
  8. Write letters to newspapers, spread accurate information on your social media, and use any and all public forums at your disposal to keep these complicated matters prominent and being discussed.
  9. Stay tuned for news of and attend any City Council meetings regarding these issues. Consider making a delegation (speaking directly at the meeting), sending a letter to all councillors before the meeting, and or just witnessing – and by your presence showing those who govern the scope of support for those tenting.
  10. USE YOUR VOICE. I am leaving Peterborough this afternoon for three weeks on a trip I’ve had planned for months. It’s heartbreaking to me to be physically leaving my home community at this time of great distress. I will still be in daily contact with other organizers and advocates. I will still be writing to y’all and to the city and everyone I can, and I will still be in contact each day with some of those tenting so I know where people are at and what they need, but I won’t be here and those tenting need vocal advocates. They have told me over and again how much it means to them to have someone stand up and publicly support them. And so I will ask you with love to say what needs to be said; to step up as you can and to use your words to defend, protect and advocate.
  11. If you haven’t already, visit the camp. Drop off donations at the blue tent… but stay a while. The most direct way to know where things are at is to check in directly; to share what you’ve learned through the media with tenters. Watch. Listen. Organize with your friends and with the larger community to share any information regarding eviction, so that if and when it comes, people can be alerted immediately.
  12. Show up for your community. If word comes that they are removing people from the park, get there. Surround the spaces where people are camping with witnesses who – by being present – will help to hold any officials to a greater level of accountability. If there are conflicts upon eviction, take pictures or videos (which also helps to keep law enforcement and officials more accountable).
  13. If there are arrests made, try to find out the names of those arrested. Write down anything you witnessed and organize around jail solidarity and court support. Even if all of those tenting disappear from our view, they are still very much going to be here and in need of some help and hope. Treat people like people, not problems, and work to make sure that those who do come into conflict with the law are treated well by making sure that officials understand that there are people who care and are watching out for them.

Wishing each and every one of you love, gratitude, hope and resilience. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other.

Yours,

Rachelle Sauve

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