We Need to Take Care of Each Other

I live in Toronto, also known by those who’ve been here far longer than I as Tkaronto, and I love my city. I’ve lived here my whole life and I’d really rather live nowhere else. I love the city because of its towering skyscrapers cheek to cheek against aging marvels of stone architecture. I love it for the way that, if there’s anything you want, you can find it somewhere here. I love it for the sense of adventure I’m filled with whenever I take a turn I’ve never taken before and find myself somewhere vibrant and alive I’ve never seen in the one place I’ve only ever been. Perhaps most of all, I love it for the people; there are a lot of people I love here, and I love the way I’ve seen people in this city come together for each other.

However, in recent years, it’s become dazzlingly apparent that not all our neighbours are equally cared for, especially by those who claim to represent the city. Specifically, unhoused and underhoused individuals and communities are consistently marginalized by choices ostensibly meant to make the city a better place to live. City Government, most recently helmed by mayor John Tory, have made a pattern of neglect–refusing or underfunding services which would alleviate the causes and dangers of life on the streets–ignorance–under-representing unhoused persons and housing advocates in the decisions which affect them and dismissing their hard-won insight–and abuse–criminalizing homelessness and actively using violent force to clear vulnerable communities out of the housed community’s line of sight.

There are a lot of wonderful people working to step in where the city government has not, and to demand that they use the resources we entrust them with to do better. The Encampment Support Network, Sanctuary Toronto, and the Evangel Hall Mission are all organizations which I have supported in the past, and I would greatly encourage you to look into the good work they do, as well as the many other courageous and compassionate groups who are doing their part to help (some of which can be found in the links below).  Currently, 90% of all proceeds from the sale of my 2021 zine, Porch Lights (and all associated original art), will go to Sanctuary Toronto to support their labour and advocacy.

I love this city, and that includes my un- and underhoused neighbours. We need to take care of each other. This is one way that I’m trying to do that. I hope you can find a way as well.

Resources

Encampment Support Network’s “#NoEncampmentEvictions Toolkit”

Toronto Drop In Network’s “A Path Forward” recommendation letter