I listened with interest to comments made by Minister Brad Cathers in the legislature on Monday, April 27, regarding the recent forum on vulnerable persons hosted by Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the City of Whitehorse.
In response to a question from NDP MLA Kate White, Cathers listed a number of initiatives that the government is currently supporting. He went on to say that a representative of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition said “that there are a lot of supports and investments available,” which might leave the public with the impression that everything is well in hand and that we just need more “collaboration and connection.”
I would like to clarify the four basic comments I made at the forum and reiterate that although continued collaboration and connection is important, what we really need is a community commitment to end homelessness.
* Although there are a variety of supports available to some of the most marginalized people in our community, our response is fragmented and not working for those who need support the most. Homelessness is a health issue and there continues to be gaps in the services available in the Yukon.
* These issues are solvable and the solution begins with a commitment to ending homelessness. We need a plan to end homelessness; other jurisdictions have figured out how and we can too.
* We need to recognize the urgency of the situation – people are dying, living in very unsafe and insecure situations.
* We need to accept people where they are at and stop judging or deciding what is best for them. We also need to recognize that all individuals are unique and we therefore need to provide a variety of options. People with lived experience know what they need and we need to listen to them.