I stand and watch as campers are moved along from a small empty lot on North Park. Sadness washes through my heart like water overflowing. It is not sadness only for the campers but a sadness for what we have become in Canada: a country of the haves and have-nots.
If there’s a line in the sand, I stand with the campers. Why? Because over the years I have truly listened to them. Their demands are clear, just and understandable. I’m asking that all with power and privilege would stand down and take a deep breath and really see the situation before us for what it is.
We often only see through our eyes: Victoria, the few campers that gather here and there throughout our little city. The situation grows worse if we look across the country: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Montréal, St. John’s, Halifax, would all have our issues with poverty, homelessness, and campers.
I fully believe that how we treat the poor and homeless across this country will determine our future. If we just for a moment could open our eyes look at the world around us, if we can see the root cause of the wars, violence and hatred that is on our doorstep, we would see that the discrepancy between the rich and the poor, those with power and those without power is at the root of the violence we are seeing on TV today.
The better we treat the weakest in our community, the more we really listen to them, the more we are able to give them their rightful power, privilege and economic equality in our communities, the better country we will be. Our forbearers, remember, built this great country of ours with the belief that our greatest resource was our people! From that thought came Medicare, unemployment insurance, our welfare system, subsidies to our farmers and so on.
We now live in a country where our economy is our priority, where the gap between the rich and the poor grow wider and the tension mounts. Let’s stop, just look at Palestine and Israel, look at Afghanistan and Syria. Let’s open our eyes. Do we really believe it could not happen to us? Our campers’ power is a visible sign of something much bigger than our precious parks. Let’s treat them as citizens of this great country, not as outlaws. Let us reach out to them in understanding, in solidarity, for the good of us all.