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Keeping Six

NewsletterK6 & HAMSMaRT Weekly Newsletter no. 20

K6 & HAMSMaRT Weekly Newsletter no. 20

August 4, 2020

It has been a busy week for us as we listen to what people living in encampments are saying and advocate with them for a humane approach to encampments in Hamilton. Read the bolded sentences below to get the main points from our weekly update.

URGENT CALL TO ACTION FROM SIX NATIONS. There has been a peaceful occupation of a settler development on Six Nations territory, and today the OPP raided the occupation. The OPP are blocking anyone from coming into or leaving the site, and there are youth and Elders there. One of our Keeping Six and HAMSMaRT volunteers graciously shared her knowledge of the situation with us, and you can read more on her twitter here. There is a call right now for anyone who has capacity to show up with food and water to Kanohstaton, which can only be accessed currently via 6th line road on the reserve, as the police have blocked highway 6. See screenshot attached with directions. For folks who cannot show up, there is also a call to donate funds for supplies and legal fees via e-transfer to landback6nations@gmail.com.

The August volunteer sign up schedule is open! We still need LOTS of help with baking sweet treats and decorating paper lunch bags!If you are a registered volunteer, you should have already received the sign up link – shoot us an email at volunteer@keepingsix.org if you haven’t received it. If you are not already registered as a volunteer and want to join the volunteer crew for August, sign up here https://keepingsix.org/volunteer.

Outreach happened as planned three times this past week, with more than 750 lunches distributed along with over 750 home baked goods, art supplies, essentials, and harm reduction supplies for people who use drugs. Thank you to all of the volunteers who make this happen! We are still asking YOU, if you have the means, to make water, juice, or popsicle drops in the city. Our experience and consultation with the community suggests the following non-exhaustive list of locations are high needs: the parkette at King and Wellington Sts, Ferguson St Station between King and Main Sts, Gore Park, Rebecca St park (at John St), on top of Jackson Square, around City Hall, Corktown Park (Ferguson and Forrest Sts), Beasley Park (Mary and Cannon Sts), Woodlands Park (Wentworth and Barton), outside the Barton branch of the Library. If you would like to deliver water or juice or popsicles directly to an encampment, please remember that you are approaching someone’s home and do so as you would any other Hamilton resident’s home.

We, along with a few encampment residents, filed for an emergency injunction which was granted Thursday July 30. We are being represented by Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and Wade Poziomka from Ross & McBride LLP. We received notice earlier in the week that the city planned to clear encampments at the First Ontario Centre and in front of the Wesley Day Centre on Ferguson on July 31 2020. When we did not receive written assurance that this would not occur, we consulted with people living in encampments and proceeded with seeking an injunction. This has resulted in a very public debate of the issue, with vocal support from community members and civil society groups, as well as vehement opposition from some councillors and other community members. A nice overview of the issue across Canada along with legal precedents is here. To understand our stance on the issues at hand, please see our statement here. Wade Poziomka also clarifies the crux of the disagreement we have with the city clearing encampments in an op-ed here. In short, all that we are saying, and all that we have ever said, is stop the inhumane practice of moving people on from encampments who have nowhere else to go. We wholeheartedly believe that people deserve safe, dignified, supported, accessible, affordable housing – but if that option is not available or doesn’t work for them, we keep working to find an option that does. Stay tuned for further updates on the encampments and ways to get involved, as the emergency injunction is only in place for up to 10 days.

You can add your voice to the growing movement for a humane and just approach to encampments and people who are homeless in the city. Please keep up the pressure on city officials, and consider who else in your network might be able to take action and/or offer services. Our requests are:

  • Stop ticketing people who are homeless.
  • Work to quickly open more washrooms, showers, and physical spaces for people to safely be throughout downtown and east Hamilton.
  • Ensure that people have adequate access to potable water.
  • Take a housing first approach to helping people access non-congregate housing options.
  • Enact a moratorium on clearing encampments on public lands as per available public health guidance.
    • The City not dismantle homeless encampments.
    • The City provide interim and permanent housing for encampment residents with necessary supports.
    • The City prioritize individuals experiencing homelessness for urgent housing placement.
    • The City engage encampment residents in assessing their needs prior to dismantling.
    • The City remove barriers inshelters and hotels in order to accommodate the individual needs of encampment residents.
    • The City allow for sanctioned encampment sites and/or designate specific parks/public lands where individuals are allowed to set up tents/temporary structures.
    • The City allow for a streamlined, low-barrier, accessible process of issuing permits allowing for tents and temporary structures.

Please take 5 minutes today to call or email your city councillor about these urgent needs, and copy us info@hamsmart.ca and info@keepingsix.org as well as the city clerk clerk@hamilton.ca on all correspondence.

We are watching the brave actions of Ahona Mehdi, a 2019-2020 HWDSB student trustee, who shared her observations and experiences of racism in this role, and the resulting investigation announced by HWDSB. We support the calls from Ms. Mehdi and HWDSB Kids Need Help for:

  • Transparency, as well as public and student consultation on all equity and anti-racism training provided to trustees.
  • Transparency around the investigation, including who is leading it, what they’re looking into and ensuring that their full report is released to the public and students.
  • Trustees involved in “blatantly anti-Black and racist incidents” be “impeached” immediately.

We also stand with ACORN Hamilton, who are protesting Bill 184. Bill 184 lifts the COVID-19 eviction moratorium and places hundreds of people at risk of eviction and homelessness. It is estimated that 7 to 9% of Ontarians were unable to pay rent during the pandemic. These people are now extremely vulnerable to becoming homeless. You can learn more about the issue and how to take action here.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE THIS WEEK:

DONATE TO FUND REPAIRS TO KANYENKEHAKA KANONHSES via GoFundMe – they are just over halfway to their $15000 target!

DROP WATER, JUICE, OR POPSICLES TO LOCATIONS IN THE CITY WHERE IT IS NEEDED See above for a list of potential places where there may be people who need drinks

CONTACT YOUR CITY COUNCILLOR AND THE MAYOR To ask them about what they are doing to support people who are homeless and people who use drugs, and request they place a moratorium on the removal of encampments and ticketing, and instead focus the city’s efforts on providing people with adequate water, shelter, food, and services. You can find contact info for your city councillor here.

VOLUNTEER to decorate brown paper bags for outreach lunches, bake sweet treats, go on outreach, shop for supplies, or help staff rest and hygiene stations, by signing up here: https://keepingsix.org/volunteer.

DONATE CASH (or ask people in your network to donate) https://keepingsix.org/support/.

DONATE LIKE-NEW/EXCELLENT CONDITION TENTS, SLEEPING BAGS, FLEECE BLANKETS, OR TARPS by emailing us tents@keepingsix.org. Fleece blankets are a great project for sewers!

AMPLIFY our messages on twitter @HAMSMaRTeam and @keepingsix and by forwarding this email, so that decision makers LISTEN to people who are homeless and/or who use drugs about what they need right now.

EST. 2018

Keeping Six – Hamilton Harm Reduction Action League is a community-based organization that defends the rights, dignity, and humanity of people who use drugs.