The 17th annual homelessness awareness week brought about 200 Calgarians to Olympic Plaza for an afternoon of music and presentations.
Olympic Plaza was filled with charitable organizations spreading knowledge of the homelessness situation in Calgary while primarily advocating for action towards affordable housing, something that event volunteer Caroyln Bouey-Shank thought has received minimal attention during the civic election campaign.
“One of the biggest problems (with homelessness) is the fact that its not thought of or educated about enough,” Bouey-Shank said.
Calgary Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr, a long-time advocate for affordable housing, said that since the 1950s, homelessness has been seen more as a problem for individuals rather than the community.
“Over the last 30 years, we’ve lost sight of that ideal.” Hehr explained.
Global TV’s Gord Gillies shared several messages he had received from homeless people, with the audience.
One message said, “I have homework tonight, but no home.”
All the speakers agreed on one thing; there is a difference between surviving and thriving in the city.
The main showcase was The Alex Pathways of Housing, which takes mentally-challenged homeless people in and helps them find jobs.
Clients of Alex Pathways were responsible for building and decorating the various seed baskets that could be seen throughout the park and were up for auction.
XL radio host Bob Steele, who works at 10th Street and Centre Street North, admitted he always passed Alex in the mornings when on his doughnuts run, and wondered what they did.
“Now that I know what they do,” Steele said, “I’m proud to be involved.”
Among the other contributions were several postcards created by a client of Alex and live performances by local rappers Blue and Notebook.
Also showcased was the upcoming Coldest Night of the Year walk that Bouey-Shank was advertising.
On Feb. 22nd, Calgarians will walk to raise awareness and funds. All proceeds will go towards Acadia Place and Feed the Hungry, fellow organizations who will use the money to renovate their facilities.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced Oct.10th to officially be ‘Homelessness Awareness Day.’
“(The homeless) are like a seed,” Nenshi said during his speech. “With the right nurturing, clients can prosper.”