Imagine standing in the pouring rain, not knowing where you are going to sleep at night. Or begging yet another friend if you can sleep on their couch for just one more time. How about debating whether to go home, where you know the dangers that lie waiting, or choosing to sleep outside, where there are hidden dangers everywhere you look?
A national study in 2014 estimated that 235,000 people experience homelessness in Canada each year, with 35,000 Canadians affected on any given night. As many as 50,000 people are ‘hidden’ homeless – individuals who stay with family, friends, or others because they have no other place to go. Aboriginal people are over-represented in the homeless population – one in four people experiencing homelessness identify as Aboriginal or First Nations. Ten per cent of Canadian families live below low-income cut-off, and 14 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty.
Summit Youth Hub is organizing a ‘Box City’ for this Friday, October 4th – an overnight campout at Pothole Park where attendees will get a glimpse of what it is like to experience homelessness. Box City began in Invermere in 2014 and ran for three years, returning this year.
“This event allows us to start a conversation with youth around the circumstances of homelessness. Our aim is to end any stigma or misconceptions that people may hold around this issue and have a real conversation about risks that can lead to experiencing homelessness,” says Kelsey Prichard, centre director.
Youth centre leadership work to prepare students for life after high school, and they use this event as an opportunity to talk about risk factors that can lead to homelessness.
Everyone is welcome to attend. Bring your own boxes, a tarp, duct tape, or anything you can think you might need for shelter. Bring warm clothes and a sleeping bag. There will be muffins and hot chocolate available at the park. Arrive by 7 p.m. to start building your box shelter for the night before it gets dark. Late arrivals are welcome. Contact the centre for more information: 250-342-3033, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.