Victoria, BC, December 19, 2022 − The Committee to End Homelessness Victoria and the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness (GVCEH) invite the public to join a candlelight vigil at the Whale Wall (Reeson Park, 1304 Wharf Street), Victoria, BC on December 21st at 4pm. Everyone is encouraged to stand alongside those of us with lived and living experiences of homelessness to honor and remember the lives of those who have died in our community in 2022, while experiencing homelessness, poverty, and failures in policy. To acknowledge local Indigenous Protocol, Naw-Hea’Mowha Melissa Barnhard, a cultural support worker with the Songhees Nation, will open the event.
Housing is a social determinant of health. As such, the experience of homelessness, particularly chronic or recurring experiences, dramatically elevates one’s risk of illness, injury, and death. For every age group, our unhoused neighbors die and suffer the same illnesses experienced by people with homes, but at a significantly higher rate. While living on the streets and in poverty, people face exacerbation of health concerns including physical disabilities, mental health challenges, substance use risks, accidents, extreme weather exposures, and are often victims of violence.
According to the 2014 report, ‘Dying in the Streets: Homeless deaths in BC’, the median age of death for person experiencing homelessness in the province of BC is between 40 and 49 years of age. Median life expectancy for this population is anticipated to be reduced because of the drug supply poisoning public health emergency, ongoing since April 2016.
Mayor Marianne Alto will be joining the event to read the City of Victoria proclamation recognizing December 21st, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, as the “National Memorial Day for Persons Experiencing Homelessness”.
“I am 75 years old. I watch the same thing year after year. When a person is down and out, and needs help, no one is there. Yet look around, now they’re dead, and we are so sad and mourning. Let us do something to keep people alive 364 days of the year! One homeless person dying is one too many…how many will be enough?’ Bill Krampé, GVCEH Lived and Living Experience Council Member.
The Committee to End Homelessness Victoria has been meeting since 2006. We bring together people with lived/living experiences of homelessness and housed allies to find solutions and press for change. We listen to the concerns voiced by people living on the streets and others who experience homelessness in Victoria, and we promise to take action by bringing those concerns to the attention of those who can act and make a positive difference in their lives. We challenge our politicians, bureaucrats, service providers, and police to work collaboratively to change the system and advocate for action that will positively impact the lives of our street family.
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The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness (GVCEH) is a partnership of local service providers, non-profit organizations, all levels of government, and business, post-secondary, and faith communities. The GVCEH’s mission is to ensure experiences of homelessness in the Capital Region by 2030 are rare, brief, and non-recurring and that housing and supports are culturally adaptive, creative, caring, and person-centered.
For more information:
Director of Collaborative Engagement
Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness