They Want Their Home Back!
Sunday, June 17, 20076 Comments
What more can be said?
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. Ã¬I go there every day, itÃs home to so many people. ItÃs where we get good advice, the staff cares and itÃs some place that weÃre not judged.Ã® He explained what it was like to have this home taken away. Ã¬ItÃs like a kick in the face, I mean, if they did this to Ã«clean up downtownÃ itÃs 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, itÃs our home and we donÃt even get to know why they did this.Ã®
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 Ã¬deeply disturbing due to the decision, the delivery and the impact on the youth.Ã® However, she had words of praise for both the youth and the former staff. She is proud of the youths for Ã¬facing an untenable situation by banding together, by being courageous, strong and constructive and for not retaliating as many people thought would happen.Ã® Her praise of the staff was just as glowing. Ã¬I 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.Ã®
The hot sun shined down on the square where people had gathered. Dinner was arranged to come at four oÃclock. 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 itÃs place?