Annual memorial honours those living on the streets
- EFN Staff | February 08, 2018
A memorial was held to honour Regina’s homeless and to those who didn’t make it. The City Square Plaza in the city’s downtown location was filled with over 100 people who attended despite the -20 freezing temperature.
Robyn Knowles, Intensive Case Manager at Phoenix Homes, said it was very powerful night with a lot of tears and an understanding of what has been going on in the Queen city.
“We felt the event was something good to make the community aware of ,” she said. “We those who passed away from homelessness from the hardships and our harsh Saskatchewan winters.”
There’s no exact number recorded of how many are homeless and who died due to homelessness but Knowles said the numbers are staggering. She added each program has their own statistics but a name list of those who passed away due to homelessness has yet to be made.
“We do have such a high number of homelessness in Regina,” said Knowles. “The numbers that we have…are in the high hundreds. We’ve had 6 or 7 of our clients pass away due to homelessness and the effects of it.”
This is the second year that Phoenix Homes and Street Culture Project partnered to organize this annual event. This year organizers made a callout for warm clothing where they will be taking the items to different programs in the city. Knowles said they plan on driving around to hand out winter coats, gloves, toques, ski pants, winter boots and blankets to the homeless.
“We filled a 15-passenger van stuffed full of donations,” she said. “We’re going to disperse them sometimes next week to anybody who needs them on the street.”
Guest speakers consisted of Regina Mayor Micheal Fougere, MLA Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray and two community members who were once homeless, shared the stage. Memorial attendees enjoyed a bowl of hot chili, bannock and coffee – all generously donated from the community. Knowles hopes the awareness from the event will start a movement and continue throughout the year.
“There’s still resources we need to financially help every person on the street. There’s not enough funding from the province,” she said. “People understand that there needs to be a chain reaction here and it can’t stop with one night.”
May 2015 the YMCA of Regina and community partners conducted the first-ever Point-in-Time Homeless Count and released a final report where total of 232 people were enumerated on the night of the count. According to the final report, “54.3% (126) of those counted were in emergency shelter and 26.7% (62) were in a transitional housing facility, 3.4% were either observed or self-reported they were sleeping in parks, on the street, etc. 75.0% were Aboriginal using data from using observed facility data and self-reported street survey data.”