KAMLOOPS — I know there will be some who, in their ignorance, will suggest that last Friday’s efforts to raise awareness for youth homelessness was nothing more than a photo op for Kamloops Councillors looking for the limelight with an election a year away. Those naysayers will always be around.
But the promotion would not have been a success without that photo opportunity, if you wish to call it that. Would the news media have done as much if Councillors like Tina Lange and Kathy Sinclair hadn’t participated? Or ran the comments made by the Mayor and other Councillors surrounding the event? Highly unlikely. This was a real opportunity to continue to raise awareness of a growing problem. Youth homelessness is a troubling issue. It’s not a simple issue, and requires a concerted effort by a number of groups to alleviate the problem.
Tina Lange said she felt safe during the event. And of course she should have been. There was a big group of people, the weather was great, and conditions were pretty good overall. And I know Kathy and Tina certainly didn’t think they were totally replicating the conditions of the homeless. After all, they had new cardboard boxes, good sleeping bags and clothes, and were pretty well protected. They understand the real homeless people don’t have the luxuries they had. They have to find a place to sleep, often a different place each night if they can’t find a corner they can call their own. Often their cardboard boxes are scooped out of garbage containers, wet and soggy, their blanket or old sleeping bag, if they are lucky to have one, will be damp, mildewed, and smelly. Their clothes will likely be threadbare and not very warm. They may have to sleep amongst the mice or larger rodents, and may be subject to attempts at mugging, theft, or any other number of problems during the course of their sleep. They don’t get much time to relax. They are constantly on vigil.
Such is the plight of the more vulnerable members of our society. And we should thank all those who participated in the event last Friday night. The plight of the homeless needs to be publicized and brought to the masses who would just as soon ignore the problem and complain about it than deal with it.
So my congratulations to those who helped raise the profile. Let’s hope it’s another small step forward in getting the general public to the point where they understand that this is a real concern, and that the efforts by the Councillors and others wasn’t about a photo op, but a genuine concern for the people whose lives are at risk every day.
I'm Doug Collins and that's One Man's Opinion