Winnipeggers create bus shelter home to raise awareness about homelessness
A group of Winnipeggers set up a living space inside a bus shelter on Portage Avenue to raise awareness about homelessness in the city.
"We wanted to make a public statement about the issue of homelessness in Winnipeg," said Rain Raven, an advocate and one of the people staying in the bus shelter.
"We feel everyone is accustomed to seeing homelessness and homeless people crammed into bus shelters. Meanwhile, people should realize that is inhumane, and it's not normal."
Raven said homelessness is an issue that affects all groups and racial backgrounds but impacts Indigenous people greatly.
"As for indigenous people, we want to keep people aware that the original people of this land are not homeless because Canada is their home wherever they go. They are houseless," she said.
With the pandemic, Raven said homelessness is on the rise.
"The problem is getting to a point where people are sleeping wherever they can, even the sidewalk," she said.
Raven said homelessness is a complex issue with no clear solution, but a good jumping-off point is getting roofs over people's heads.
"The first priority is to get people off the streets. Not by imprisoning or by making poverty a criminal offence, but to escalate more housing units, lower rentals, and shelters for those with addictions."
The awareness effort was held on Monday to coincide with the federal election.
"I encourage every citizen to vote for the party that seriously addresses homelessness because homeless people are human beings," said Raven.
"If these were cats and dogs, people would be outraged and converge from all parts of the city to rescue them. But instead, they see human beings and their reaction is more callous, and frankly, it's very disturbing."