A community that cares
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This article was published 27/07/2022 (317 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They clapped. They cheered and waved. They gave thumbs up. They were people who appreciated the volunteers of the recent Interfaith Riverbank Cleanup in Crescentwood.
Organizers Sonya Watson of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, Michael Thiessen of Bear Clan Patrol, and Dr. Ray Singer of Shaary Zedek Synagogue along with city councillor John Orlikow (River Heights) amassed a hearty crew of helpers and equipment clean up the riverbank under the bridge adjacent to 603 Wellington Cres.
One passerby, seeing the amount of garbage being hauled up, which included 24 shopping carts, described the situation as one “where angels fear to tread.”
Participants were gloved, safety goggled, hydrated and keen to prevent a plethora of discarded items from polluting the river. Needles (sharps) were put into safety containers, and empty food containers were bagged. A common refrain from volunteers was “I had no idea it was this bad.”
The motivation for this community outreach endeavour was a heartfelt united concern for the homeless who live in the encampments nearby. They are in our back yard, and they are our neighbours.
That concern, when shared with a cyclist who stopped to discuss the plight of the unhoused, motivated him to immediately draft a questionnaire on his cell phone in which he is asking every mayoral candidate what they intend to do for Winnipeg’s homeless population.
The homeless have nowhere to put their garbage, just as they have nowhere to live. The things they leave behind are often the only way they can show us their pain. It is up to us all to make sure that pain is not discarded.
Owing to a multitude of reasons, the number of unsheltered people in Winnipeg is growing.
If you wish to learn more about homelessness there are organizations such as End Homeless Winnipeg (www.endhomelessnesswinnipeg.ca); Oak Table (www.oaktable.ca); Resource Assistance for Youth (www.rayinc.ca), and 1justcity (www.1justcity.ca).
There are books that can help the uninitiated understand the humans in bus shelters or by the river such as: All Our Sisters: Stories of Homeless Women in Canada, by Susan Scott; Wisdom from the Homeless, by Neil Craton, M.D.; or Snow Bodies: One Woman’s Life on the Streets, by Elizabeth Hudson.
In the days before the shopping carts could be removed, an unknown sculptor constructed a testimonial for all to see, representing life under the bridge.
Crescentwood community correspondent
Heather Emberley is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. Email her at email@example.com if you have a story suggestion.