July 23, 2021
Joint Statement on Forced Evictions at Toronto Encampments
As community members and organizations working to prevent and end homelessness in Winnipeg, we are saddened and distressed by events in Toronto this week, during which people have been forcibly evicted from temporary encampments.
Forced evictions compound the harms experienced by people whose human right to housing has been violated.
We urge the City of Toronto to work toward a rights-based approach to encampments, informed by the National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada.
This work has been underway in Winnipeg for more than two years, through the Kíkinanaw Óma Strategy and the Non-Emergent Encampment Support Process. At a collaborative table involving outreach workers, homeless-serving agencies, first responders, City departments, Indigenous organizations and people with lived experience of homelessness, Kíkinanaw Óma advances a rights-based approach, through an interim strategy that reduces unnecessary police interactions with encampments while increasing trained and peer outreach supports; and through recommendations that address the self-identified needs of people with lived experience for housing, safe spaces and services. The name Kíkinanaw Óma, gifted to the Strategy by Elder Belinda Vandenbroeck, can be translated as “This is our Home Here” from Cree. This name calls our attention to the link between ongoing colonization and displacement of Indigenous peoples from these lands and experiences of Indigenous homelessness in our cities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made unsheltered homelessness and encampments more visible here as in other cities. People experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg, as elsewhere, manage traumas and complex health challenges, while facing daily stigma, discrimination and violence. Working together across differences toward a common goal of advancing the right to housing, while doing our best to protect lives and reduce harms, is part of our shared path to Truth and Reconciliation and to safer, healthier cities.
Kris Clemens, co-chair, Kíkinanaw Óma
Kirsten Bernas, co-chair, Kíkinanaw Óma