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They Want Their Home Back!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

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  • What more can be said?

    What more can be said?

On Friday June 15th at 9:30 am the young people at Change Now youth drop-in centre were getting up and starting their chores, but thatís where their normal routine ended. The kids were told to pack their things and the staff were told that they no longer had jobs. The Change Now board of directors had made a decision to close down the youth drop-in centre without warning.

The response was instantaneous. On the 15th the youth started organizing, there was a gathering in the afternoon, petitions were printed and a demonstration was scheduled for June 16th in St. George's Square. Notes of support for Change Now were taped up all over downtown. At the demonstration people began gathering around noon and consisted of youth, university students and other community members. As the former staff arrived there were hugs for them from the youth and tears from the staff. Former staff asked the kids that no longer had a place to sleep how their first night was without Change Now.

Dave Mclaughlin had slept at Change Now in the past not on the morning that it was shut down, but he still called it home. He also had much to say about why Change Now was so important. ìI go there every day, itís home to so many people. Itís where we get good advice, the staff cares and itís some place that weíre not judged.î He explained what it was like to have this home taken away. ìItís like a kick in the face, I mean, if they did this to ëclean up downtowní itís the wrong way to do it, cause now we have no place to go. And by not telling us why it was shut down is the biggest insult, itís our home and we donít even get to know why they did this.î

It was overheard that the youth sleeping at Change Now on Thursday night, 16 in all, were guaranteed a place to sleep Friday night. Shelters around the city opened emergency beds to provide a place to sleep for the night. However, as of Saturday night, these kids are on their own to find a new place to sleep, to eat and a place to feel safe.

Sabina Chatterjee, a former Executive Director at Change Now, was on hand for the demonstration in St. George's Square. She said that the sudden closing of the centre was ìdeeply disturbing due to the decision, the delivery and the impact on the youth.î However, she had words of praise for both the youth and the former staff. She is proud of the youths for ìfacing an untenable situation by banding together, by being courageous, strong and constructive and for not retaliating as many people thought would happen.î Her praise of the staff was just as glowing. ìI have been so honoured to work with staff that has been so consistently amazing. When they were told that they no longer had a job their first reaction was to rally around the youth and to think of their well being.î

The hot sun shined down on the square where people had gathered. Dinner was arranged to come at four oíclock. All day long people had been dropping things off: water, apples, items for making placards, etc. The plan is to get an emergency measure at the city council meeting on Monday. However, by that time these kids will have been back on the streets for three nights, again without a home. By Monday, who knows what will be left of the centre, if any thing will be left of their home. Even if some sort of emergency measure can be worked out, Change Now as it was is gone. The only question is, will a new Change Now take itís place?

For pictures of the rally follow this link to the photo gallery
For more information look to the website in support of Change Now

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  1. Posted by: Sarah on Jun 17, 2007 @ 6:08pm

    Do we know yet if there was a reason? (Bob this is the Sarah who used to live with you, if you get any info please e-mail me!)

  2. Posted by: Leichik on Jun 17, 2007 @ 8:22pm

    this is deeply disturbing. Even in terms of employment laws, the staff would have needed some notice. The other shelters aren't oriented around youth, and may not be safe for them, this is horrible!

  3. Posted by: Bob Przybyla - Cannon Editor on Jun 17, 2007 @ 9:09pm

    The emergency beds were in shelters that the youth would not otherwise be eligible to stay in, that's why they were guaranteed only one night.

  4. Posted by: MeaghanH on Jun 18, 2007 @ 9:06am

    Does anyone know exactly WHY the Board of Directors decided to do this so abruptly? It's very disturbing, and also strange...

  5. Posted by: Duke on Jun 18, 2007 @ 10:13am

    They scare student away by the looks and actions. A church is a religious place not to be disrespected by swarm partying. Of course they ant it back the price is right.
    To balance ...
    CMHC 519-821-2060 have the Salvation Army Churh on Waterloo and Glasgow empty til demolition in two years for a move from 147 Delhi..
    Try a compassionate plea to Community Mental Health Centre Pschc.s.
    TTFN Duke

  6. Posted by: Timothy on Jun 18, 2007 @ 6:14pm

    The staff are being paid their oustanding vacation pay and severance as outline in the Labour Act.

    Still no reason on why it's been closed. For more info check out the Facebook group.

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