Gatherings Throughout Quebec Raise Urgent Need to Recognize the Right to Housing
The 17th Night of the Homeless was organized in Gatineau by the Regional Collective of the Fight against Homelessness in the Outaouais (CRIO) on October 18 in Ste-Bernadette Park. The event was held simultaneously in close to thirty cities across Quebec.
In their call to participate in the event, CRIO states: “As federal elections are taking place and in light of the fact that a large number of people were identified as being homeless in a survey taken throughout Quebec, it is important to underline the different aspects of the problem as well as its various causes, both individual and collective. What makes the situation even more urgent here in the Outaouais is the housing crisis which is making life difficult for a number of people with families or living alone.”
The event began at 5:00 pm with a solidarity march in the streets of Old Hull, and throughout the march participants shouted slogans such as : “Social Assistance Is Not a Choice, It Is a Right!”, “To Choose Austerity Is to Deepen Poverty!”, “Homelessness Is Not a Choice, Everyone Needs a Place to Stay!”, and “To Sleep in the Street Makes No Sense, to Do Nothing Is Unacceptable!”
The event was made possible through the efforts of a large number of community organizations, those who are on the front lines to help the most vulnerable and with the active participation of the people who themselves are affected by the overall impoverishment of society. For example, 35 people contributed artistically to the event. Participants — close to a thousand in the course of the evening — paid tribute to twenty people who died during the past year in Gatineau as a result of their dire situation. This is the side of homelessness we hear nothing about. Among the booths that were set up all around the park was that of veterans who were there to remind everyone that a number of them are affected by homelessness.
During the evening, one of the emcees, Alexandre Desch�nes, who was the Marxist-Leninist candidate in Hull-Aylmer, reminded everyone how so-called representative democracy and its elections try to reduce the role of the people to that of passive spectators and how crucial it was to hold events such as these where people speak in their own name.
To be homeless and to live in total insecurity is a problem facing the whole of society. It is a problem made worse by austerity measures whereby governments pay the rich, wash their hands of all social responsibility and maintain the rule of the minority over the majority through an electoral process whose main aim is precisely to preserve that power. Under these conditions, to speak in our own name at all times is indeed the order of the day.
(Photos: L. Paquette, Nuit des Sans-Abri)