The Speakers Bureau is a group of individuals who have experienced homelessness and want to share their story. Through funding provided by the United Way, the Coalition has provided training for these individuals to speak publicly about their personal experiences – putting a face to homelessness. Our speakers address a variety of issues from mental illness, drug addiction, domestic violence, disability issues, and unemployment. In addition to the problems surrounding homelessness in Greater Victoria, our speakers will also discuss the solutions and their personal successes.
Dawna was born and raised in Alert Bay, and is a 4th generation Residential School Survivor. She has been actively involved in the community, volunteering and helping out where she can. She has studied under a Master Carver, and is also a button blanket artist.
Topics of interest: Aboriginal, Addictions
Leonard is an Aboriginal man from Cowichan, and is a survivor of the residential school system. He is a very warm and graceful speaker with a good sense of humour. Always helpful, Leonard attends the Social Inclusion Advisory Committee, and wants to spread a message of hope and collaboration through his work with the Coalition Speaker’s Bureau.
Topics of interest: Aboriginal, Education
Bernice has lived and worked in the Victoria area for the past twenty years and is a member of the Kwakwaka’waka Nation. As a founding member of M’akola Housing Society, Bernice was instrumental in the creation of M’akola’s first housing project on Caledonia Street. M’akola has since gone on to create housing from Victoria to Alert Bay.
Topics of interest: Aboriginal, Senior’s issues, Peer Support
Bill is a senior in recovery and describes himself as an economic refugee. He spent the first half of his adult life as a commercial fisher, among other jobs, and the second half as a person experiencing poverty and homelessness. Bill is interested in supporting peer driven solutions to challenges within the community.
Topics of interest: Seniors, peer solutions
After a series of unfortunate circumstances Michael found himself homeless and unable to re-establish a home in Victoria. Currently contending with a neurological disorder that’s makes it difficult for him to work, Michael is on income assistance and has limited housing options due to cost. Using his skill and education as an artist, Michael supplements his income with the proceeds of his art.
Topics of interest: Hidden disabilities, Homelessness and art.
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