On the night of March 11, 2020, and throughout the following day, the Community Social Planning Council, with support from the Capital Regional District, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and many volunteers, will conduct the bi-annual Point-in-Time (PiT) Homeless Count and Survey.

Over a 24 hour period, trained volunteers will count and survey individuals who are staying in shelters, short-term housing, and sleeping rough (without shelter). Our PiT Count survey will provide a “snapshot” of homelessness in the region and important information that improves our understanding of the needs and circumstances of the people who are affected by homelessness in our community.

PiT Count 2020 – General Info sheet

PiT Count Poster for Circulation

Volunteers needed: 

Training sessions will be held on weekend and weekday evenings.

For a direct link to volunteer registrations and to sign up for a training session click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FNVTHKW.

This week the Face-to-Face with Stigma team, a group of facilitators, storytellers and speakers led their second workshop with the Victoria Police Department.

These workshops bring together individuals with lived experience from our community trained in storytelling with The Existence Project to share their own stories through engagement and work sessions. These sessions hold a variety of goals such as ending stigma, building individual capacity and encouraging #compassion in our communities.

These workshops mark the beginning of a series of anti-stigma workshops this year targeting a variety of audiences in our region. The team is sharing the voices of youth, Indigenous and lived-experience, and are creating safe and compassionate spaces of learning, sharing and expanding.

To learn more about this exciting project email team lead and Peer Support Worker, Kay Martin at:


Check out photos from this special day below:

A look into the opening hour of #ProjectConnect2020.

Project Connect is a day of community, human connection and knowledge sharing. We want to thank Brianna Bear, the Executive Director of Oasis Society for opening up the event in ceremony, prayer and song, The Salvation Army Community Response Unit for serving lunch, United Way Greater Victoria’s Labour Committee and their members who served the spaghetti and meatball dinner, and the many organizations who provided services and support throughout the day.

We are excited to take this energy into the new year and encourage everyone in our region to amplify the voices around you, form relationships and focus on solutions!

Project Connect 2020 was made possible thanks to funding from United Way of Greater Victoria and the amazing team of volunteers from our partners like Our Place Society Victoria Cool Aid Society Anawim and the United Way’s #womenunited group.

Check out photos from this special day below:

This year the City of Victoria’s participatory budgeting process focused its theme on improving the lives of youth in our City!

Through your votes, the votes of 5,000 people in our community, Emily Jackson the Coalition’s Prevention of Youth Homelessness Coordinator and the youth group: Youth Educating and Advocating About Homelessness (#YEAH), were voted in as one of five project winners able to receive a share of 55,000$ from the City of Victoria.

Since its creation, the YEAH group has worked to better the lives of at-risk youth, inspired by their own lived experience of homelessness. Together, through youth consultations, they discovered the needs of vulnerable youth and are prepared to address them with the project, ‘“What we Need” – Youth Homelessness Prevention’.

To learn more about this exciting project click here: https://cvyc.ca/pb/what-we-need-prevention-of-youth-homelessness/

Check out photos from this special day below:

This month the GVCEH and Ready to Rent hosted the open house of our new shared office space. We were joined by our community and partners, and paid respect to World Homeless day. Appreciation gifts were given to Christine Lintott ArchitectGT Hiring Solutions and The Home Depot for their support in creating the office space we share together today.

We also want to thank The Salvation Army Victoria ARC for providing us with hot dogs from the Salvation Army Disaster Emergency Truck and the City of Victoria for the tents that shielded us on that chilly day!

Check out photos from this amazing event below:


“Being able to dream is recovery on its own.”  These are words that glued to me.

In a field often associated with best care practices, do’s and don’ts, and “always been done this way” doctrines, it is easy to detach from the basic healing properties of our own profound and human selves. In an era of heightened chatter, heaviness and reactivity, it is often easier to take the role of commuter rather than conductor, and while riding along can give us a sense of letting go, it is often easy to forget where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.

As a response to these characteristics and the barriers they can place on front line workers, Brian Dean Williams, a therapist, workshop leader, and meditation facilitator shared with us a variety of multi-functional practices, internal recognitions and mindful connections back to the self throughout his 2-day training on Trauma-Informed Practice. Teaching us that by successfully connecting with ourselves we can effectively connect back to the people we help.

On the first day of this 2-day training series, we explored Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivors, the following are 3 of my major learnings from the first day of this CAEH training opportunity:


Understanding Trauma

Trauma is a working definition. As stated in the training, trauma is “a socially constructed disintegration of our ability to connect with our physical, mental, interpersonal, and emotional world. A result of an adverse event or events that interrupt our ability to cope, at a neurobiological and interpersonal level.” For many, especially in cases of colonization, displacement or removal from family and tradition; trauma can be a shared experience of disconnection from self, while healing is the entity of re-connection.

“Trauma-informed care encourages support and treatment to the whole person, rather than focus on only treating individual symptoms or specific behaviors.”


The Power of Choice

During our training, we were presented with five principles of Trauma-Informed Practice (find in the CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care PowerPoint), with Choice, Collaboration, and Connection as one of them. This principle stood out to me as it informs front line staff that despite our best intentions, all processes should include a foundation of autonomy and personal control for those we assist.  Trauma-Informed Practice provides a collaborative approach to client services by integrating feedback and customization. As stated by Brian, by leveling power relationships and, “being transparent about areas where we can’t,” we can carefully create an environment of trust and respect.  


Limitations of TIP? Looking past TIP

While Trauma-Informed Practice and Care can provide a client with trust, control and safety, it has often been criticized for only treating half of the equation (the individual), while leaving out the broken systems, policies and practices that harbor environments of trauma in the first place. “There is a risk of focusing on the treatment of pathology (trauma), rather than fostering the possibility (well-being). Everyone wants to be happy not just have less misery.”


If the answer is in healing our collective environment and focusing less on trauma itself, then where do we move on from here?


A simple answer to this question would not give justice to our very unsimple reality. However, working toward new paradigms of society and healing can help. Brian’s final teachings of the day poked at the idea of collective change and surfaced the opportunity of Healing Centered Practice.

From this discussion, the quote, “being able to dream is recovery on its own,” stood out to me. For me, dreams signify hope and each of our birthrights to hope. These words offered me permission to envision my dream society as one where every single individual is given the opportunity to live each day thinking past their basic means of survival.


A society that can dream is a society I hope we can all one day be a part of.


Below is the video playlist from day-1 of Brian Dean Williams Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivor’s training session.


On February 8, 2019 I was lucky to be among about 30 colleagues in the work to end homelessness in Greater Victoria who spend the day with Brian Dean Williams learning about the brain, mindfulness, our selves, and how to best support each other. This was the second of a 2-day training Brian delivered in the community as part of the local CAEH Training series sponsored by the Government of Canada and coordinated by the CRD and the Coalition, with the assistance of a community steering committee.

As someone who has experience work-related burnout before, and who used mindfulness in my long recovery, I was excited to learn more. I’ve also, over the past few years, become wary of the terms “burnout” and “self-care,” as it seems they have become commodified, Instagram-able, and somewhat empty words. When Brian talked about moving our focus from “self-care” to “we care,” I knew I had found someone who was speaking to the kind of work that keeps us filled up and moving forward.

Most people who work in the social services sector do so because we genuinely care about other people. The less we feel able to make a real difference for the people we serve, and the less power we feel in our day-to-day jobs, the less satisfaction we feel in the work, and the more we edge towards emotional exhaustion.

When you throw in a big dose of trauma (which CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care talking about) – whether vicariously through client’s shared stories, or personally experienced in the course of life and work – it’s a wonder many of us last as long as we do in this sector. What Brian’s reframing of self-care allows is another avenue to satisfaction: taking care of each other as a way to take care of ourselves.

As you click through Brian’s Presentation and watch the video playlist (below), you’ll see there was much much more to the day than I’ve shared here. We shared in both sitting and walking mindfulness meditation. We talked about ways to bring mindfulness into our daily lives to keep from “flipping our lids.” And we got to know each other in the room as compassionate beings who can hear and share each other’s needs in a way that makes a difference.

And that, it seems, may be the ultimate self-care – listening to another in a way that makes a difference for them, and in so doing fulfilling our own need to contribute and co-creating a supportive, human, and humane work environment.

NOTE: Our thanks to Hilary Marks for her report on this workshop, and for all of her work to end homelessness in Greater Victoria.

If you are interested in attending a Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness community training session, see details on the upcoming topics and dates on our website.

Housing First for Women and their children: A participant’s report

I attended a workshop put on by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and the Coalition to End Homelessness, in partnership with the CRD and funded by the Government of Canada.  Most of the people in the room were known to each other, by either working together, or sharing resources and being front line workers.

The territory acknowledgement from what I could hear was beautiful.  “Smiles are free” and “don’t be afraid.” She sang and said a beautiful prayer for everyone.

The question was poised, “what do you want out of the training?”

I want an “AHA moment.”

The presenters Nicole Cortese and Hope Hamerston, both of whom I met at the CAEH 2018 conference in Hamilton, start the discussion around Housing First. What kinds of things are involved with Housing First and what does it mean?  They talk about all the ways women experience homelessness and how they survive.  They spoke about the analogy of “the woman is the driver” and we [people working in the homelessness sector] are the navigators.  The women are the experts on their needs.  Housing was definitely the basic human right but that still does not mean that everyone has one.  We assist the women on their journey when they gain Housing First.  Nicole and Hope spoke about programs and Housing First core principles.  There was some discussion about what things do not facilitate a choice, like paying the rent every month.  They described the relationship of the third party to help the relationship of Landlord/tenant and tenant/support worker. To help facilitate some ground work and rules that creates boundaries and healthy goals.

There is an intersectionality that must happen with all ministries that are involved in solving homelessness and poverty for women and children.

The safety of women and children is paramount and trauma finally makes its way into the conversation.  VAW (Violence against Women) was in the conversation.

The space of the workshop was beautiful, the food was good, but the sound system was not geared for some of us with hearing impairments.  A lot of the information was repetitive.  It was a little dry and lacked new and exciting ways that we could address women’s and children’s issues of homelessness.  Lots more trauma informed peer support ideas would be beneficial.

One good idea that came up was having municipalities take on an issue.  (Seeing as we have 13 municipalities), seniors, youth, veterans.  (Loved the look on Nicole and Hope’s face when we told them we had 13 municipalities.  With that many city councilors, mayors, and city office workers, we could do a lot!  That is a lot of money!)

We spoke of the role of pets in peoples’ lives, and how beneficial it is and how those same pets can be barriers to housing.

The information was full and accurate.  I enjoyed connecting with Nicole and Hope and I am grateful that I got to experience the workshop, but I never got the AHA moment.

Thank you,

Hilary Marks


The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), funded by the Government of Canada and in partnership with the Coalition and the CRD, is offering free training in Victoria from October 2018 through February 2019. Topics for training were identified through a survey of Coalition membership, and all community members interested in learning about ending homelessness in Greater Victoria are welcome to attend.

Each day will run from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, and will include breakfast, two snack breaks and lunch. Registration is required.


Harm Reduction in a Housing First Context

  • Friday, October 5 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Kale Hayes
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Presentation details coming soon

Housing First for Women

Housing First and Outreach

Housing First and Youth/LGBTQ2S Inclusion

Trauma-Informed Care and Burnout Prevention

Housing First in an Indigenous Context

  • Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Betty Edel.
  • Local Indigenous teachings and support by Respected Elder Shirley Alphonse, T’sou-ke Nation.
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Download the presentation:

Please join us on September 18, 2018 to acknowledge the combined difference that has been made in our community in the 10 years since the Coalition was formed.

This special AGM will include

  • a retrospective slide show
  • a special keynote speaker to inspire and encourage the continuing work of ending homelessness in the capital region
  • a burger bar lunch (with options for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diets)

Our AGM and lunch are free to attend, though donations to offset the cost of the event are welcome at the door.

To register for the AGM, please click here.

In Crisis?:

If you require urgent emotional support, including having thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues, please call Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888.

Youth (under 25 years of age) may access youthspace.ca for online emotional support.

For other resources, including shelter availability, visit bc211.ca