Homelessness in London ON

Well today I had a very interesting day. Not because something unique happened either. It happens to me almost every day; however, I learned something new about the process of it all. And this post, I warn you now will be long and is two-fold in its purposes 😉

I catch the bus almost every day to downtown London ON which is the area considered down by Dundas and Richmond or Richmond street in general. I have to catch 2 buses in order to get to work and depending on which day I go to school, have to catch 2 buses to go to school. Anyways, this time I wasn’t in downtown London when this particular event happened to me but I wasn’t surprised because I recognized the man.

So it began, the man asked me for change. Wait no, he asked me if I had a bus ticket. I politely said no but I knew I had two dollars in my purse (I had the “tooney” so I could buy a coffee–that’s the most I carry on me and not because I get asked for change all the time but it’s all I ever need). I dug into my purse and I told him that I had two dollars. I knew that wasn’t enough for a bus ticket so when I watched him leave the bus stop area and walk towards the convenience store I wondered what he was going to get with two dollars.

He came back with a bottle of coke. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry but I had to buy a bottle of coke because it helps with the hunger.” I didn’t know what to think but I zipped open my bag and I asked him if wanted my lunch. I didn’t have much of a lunch but I am sure it was good enough for him. Raw almonds, an apple, and a bag of carrots. I don’t usually pack a big lunch because I usually either go straight home or to visit friends who usually more often than not share some of their lunch with me. He, of course, said “Yes!” I never saw a man so happy for something so simple: food.

He taught me two things (well, more like reinforced one more than taught me) but 1) I didn’t know that coke could cure hunger (or perhaps that’s all he could get with the two dollars because lord knows that I can’t buy a bottle pop with just two dollars when I do buy one) 2) He reinforced that I am thankful to be where I am today. Big time.

Unfortunately, this incident is not unique. Someone asking me for change, me giving what I can, and if I can giving some of my food or sharing some of my food. I’ve been there. Hungry. And no, I don’t mean after 6 hours of food hungry. I mean, trying to figure out how you are going to spend your three to five dollars to make it last the entire weekend or until you can make more money (and which being broke sometimes lasted for another 36 hours because you debated about what you were willing to do make some money–a scary thought for anyone).

I know that some of you reading this may find this hard to believe but yeah, I never thought I would be where I am today. Sure I was a straight A high school student, went through some hard times, couldn’t deal with it, fell off the track, discovered alcohol and drugs, but one day I woke up and felt that I needed to change. I moved to London ON. No home. No friends. No family. Saw the “flip-side” of London or the London that all my professors talk about in the classroom or that I overhear other kids talking during lecture…The dark side. I felt moving to London would help me. New scene.

It wasn’t exactly all peaches and cream. I experienced this level of hungry. I didn’t know where to go, who to turn to, where any sort of help was. It went on like that for about nine months or until after I applied to college–something that not every young person has the ability to take advantage of. I was able to get the scholarship (remember me, the ex-straight-A-high-school student), pay rent, sleep in a bed, and figure out where I could get food.

Let me tell you, it was rough. Some people say that’s student life. Maybe part of it is, but what about those people who are not students? What about those people who struggle to make ends meet working 2, 3, sometimes 4 jobs, all the while trying to support their family? What about the little guy?

When I read “Fiorito: Joy in struggle: Ms Taylor takes on the bankers” I couldn’t agree more with what was mentioned in her letter. Things mentioned like

  • “Workers, and the working poor, are in trouble.”
  • Or that, “she does not think it fair that a CEO at one time might have made 10 times the salary of the average worker…”
  • Meanwhile “…today a CEO might earn 200, or 300, or in some cases 500 times the average salary.”
  • Or that just because they “give money to youth, for water conservation, for First Nations…” how could they “…be satisfied about the First Nations.”
  • And even a better point, “if they want to give to the community, why don’t they raise wages for people who work in the bank.”

Yeah, the man Ms. Joy Taylor met with, the VP of the Bank and as mentioned in the article, had “no answer.” Being a First Nations person, I am used of not receiving a “no answer” or a “no reply” when trying to stand up against the injustice of other people, and I don’t just mean standing up for exclusively First Nations people. I at least help when I can or stand up for those who are marginalized like homeless people, both young and old, or for those face stigmatization, like living with a mental illness and not being able to receive the proper treatment and care. Anyway before I take away from the point that I believe Ms. Joy Taylor is trying to make about the problems with present-day Canadian society, I really liked how Ms. Taylor added at the end If people have three jobs and can’t make a living . . . anyway, I didn’t expect an answer.” I know that she didn’t get to meet with the CEO but I don’t want her letter writing efforts to go unnoticed. Early this morning, I made this petition titled “I support Joy Taylor’s letter to the Bank CEO,” and if you agree with some of the points she made in her letter and to the bank’s VP then I suggest you

  1. Sign it
  2. Share it
  3. And encourage as many others to sign it

This letter and her efforts will not go unnoticed!

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