After racially charged Facebook comments made by Lorrie Steeves, mayoral candidate Gord Steeve’s wife, resurfaced yesterday, Althea Guiboche was fed up.
Lorrie Steeves wrote that she "is really tired of getting harrassed (sic) by the drunken native guys in the skywalks," as a status on her personal Facebook page in 2010. A screen-grab of the status popped up on Twitter Friday from a little-known Twitter user named @DarlingDarleneJ and went viral.
"I’m just so sick of it. There’s reasons why these people are out there and... a lot of it has to do with a breakdown in society. I wouldn’t want to go through what they’ve had to gone through," Guiboche said.
Rather than fire back at Steeves with more rhetoric, Guiboche has invited Gord, Lorrie and any other person who wants to help feed the homeless to come provide her with some assistance on the corner of Main Street and Dufferin Avenue on Sunday at 3 p.m. Every Sunday for the last 19 months, regardless of weather conditions, Guiboche has been on the street serving bannock to those that are hungry. She usually serves about 100 people per week and her bannock supply is gone in less than a half hour.
"If they’re serious about being sorry, then they should try and make it a priority to come out," Guiboche said.
Lorrie Steeves emailed a news release to local media around 6 p.m. on Friday offering an official apology for her earlier words.
"In 2010 while I was working downtown I was regularly harassed for money and often put in a position where I feared for my safety. One day in particular 4 years ago was very bad and out of frustration I vented on my personal facebook page. I feel terrible about these comments I am terribly sorry and apologize," Steeves wrote.
"Words have no meaning if they have no actions behind it," Guiboche said. "If she is sincerely sorry, she will show up — she should up."
Although she extended the invite for the Steeves’ to join her serving bannock tomorrow, Guiboche said they can come on whichever Sunday they would like. She has already hosted mayoral candidates Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Paula Havixbeck on past Sundays, while Robert Falcon-Ouellette and Brian Bowman are scheduled to join her in the following weeks.
"When I’m hungry, I’m like a big grizzly bear and I get grouchy. I can’t imagine how (the homeless) must feel starving all day, going hungry and feeling weak, and then having people disrespect them on top of it all," Guiboche said.
"We should be helping (the homeless). Winnipeg has made it a priority to address homelessness and her comments are totally against what we’re doing."
Guiboche noted the positive impact local events like the CEO Sleepout have had in combating homelessness and stereotyping. A press conference announcing the 2014 CEO Sleepout lineup was held Thursday and Gord Steeves attended. Steeves is scheduled to participate in the sleepout.
Guiboche said she plans to interview all of the mayoral candidates about their stances on homelessness before election day, October 22. She wants to share her ideas about how to better life for the city’s most vulnerable.
"I would like to see a recycling program for certain plastics that gives (the homeless)a money option, and gives them something to do all day. They pick up scrap metal all over and that’s their source of income. If Winnipeg had a plastics recycling refund program, that would be another option, and the city would be so much cleaner."