Monday, September 7, 2009

the Whole Truth

September 7, 2009
and nothing but the truth...

Today was a milestone day for Angels of the Road. Our first TV interview. The entire taping process took over an hour and to the credit of the talented people at Global TV, was edited to a three minute segment. Unfortunately, because Angels of the Road isn't a registered charity yet (will be this month) they were unable to put the contact information at the end of the clip. But it heralds the beginning of awareness within the general public for the project. Yay!

My hour with Gill Tucker...

The reporter doing the story wanted me to go out in my street clothes carrying my back pack. As I explained in the blog "Paris Hilton of the Homeless" anonymity is very important for my ability to do my work. So I left the hoodie at home in favour of a blazer and a hat. After we arrived on location, across from the Mustard Seed, I was fitted with a microphone and asked to talk to the area locals. Gil wanted me to quiz people on their opinion of the services in Calgary. I would never do such a thing on the road. One of the reasons I stay so long in each community is to learn about the services... both first hand and from my fellow clients (through conversation not interrogation). But I did strike up a conversation with a couple Ruth and Will, they are brother and sister from Camrose. They were unable to find affordable housing there and decided to move to Calgary for the winter. Ruth said the biggest stumbling block to finding housing is the fact that she is on government assistance. Landlords labour under the illusion that people, in the system are deadbeats, druggies or drunks. The truth is after working 20 years with the same company Ruth cannot afford an apartment on the pension. So she and her brother will share space. Then I spoke with my friends Leslie and Debbie who appeared in the interview. They talked about the struggle to get covered by AISH, for Debbie the process took three years. Leslie has bad knees and can no longer work his application has been in the works for several months. Then we spoke with a very nice young man who filled me in on the street culture in Toronto, which is on my agenda for late next year. Just before wrapping up the interview we met a young family who stay at Inn from the Cold. Leland and his family have lived in the shelter since January. He is looking for work in the city because there is little work on his reserve. Their 15 month old son was fascinated by the camera ;-) I advised Leland to look into a HRDC program called Trade Winds. A native gentleman named Victor appeared on camera for a moment, he had tipped a few LOL. So we are reminded that among the homeless are the street people, the 30% of the homeless that will always be with us. The people for whom the shelter system was created.

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