A couple of angels are on the move across the Valley as they bike through the elements in the name of homelessness and to support World Homeless Awareness Day, an international event, scheduled annually on October 10th.
Clayton Cardarelli and Gordon Reagh from Operation Street Angel in Cranbrook decided to honour the day with a bike tour to educate the public about homeless issues and to celebrate the work that has been accomplished by organizations similar to their own.
Street Angel is a drop-in centre that provides food, connective services, and mentoring to those who are newly or chronically homeless and people with disabilities.
The adventurous pair met with the Pioneer at the Akisqnuk Band office last Thursday, October 5th, to speak of their efforts toward combatting homelessness and helping those affected by it enjoy a better quality of life.
“We’re from Street Angel in Cranbrook – we left our agency to bring an awareness of the homeless population there and about other people around the Ktunaxa territory that receive our services,” said Mr. Cardarelli.“We receive folks from all over the place and that’s part of the reason we decided to cycle through the territory.”
The pair has been on the road since October 1st and has been enjoying the scenic beauty of the area, though cooler conditions have changed their final destination plan from Golden to Radium Hot Springs.
“There’s a lot of people who are homeless in the Ktunaxa Nation and I don’t know how many there are in Cranbrook but at least 25 when we left,” said Mr. Reagh.
One of the changes that could help people living on the streets is to build more shelters that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Mr. Reagh, who has struggled with homelessness.
Mr. Reagh and Mr. Cardarelli enjoyed an overnight stay with Kaylene Earl when she offered to give them shelter for the night. The Lakeside Resort and Campground manager is on board with initiatives to improve the lives of the homeless population.
“I made sure they had hot coffee this morning — I think it’s a worthwhile cause that should be paid attention to and I wanted to make sure they had a spot to sleep,” she said.
According to Ms. Earl, First Nations people have many challenges they’re up against including homelessness.
“It creates a lot of barriers. There are also a lot of people that have lost hope in society, and without hope people have nowhere to go — employment is a big factor and they need to be given a chance.”