Over the past year, members of the Turtle Island Solidarity Network have accompanied unhoused people in the city of Toronto who are living in shelter hotels or in encampments. These communities include disproportionate numbers of Indigenous people and refugees who have been dispossessed and displaced by colonialism. In December, the City of Toronto closed several shelter hotels – blocks of hotel rooms which the city leased at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide safer shelter for unhoused people. In order to increase the capacity of permanent city shelters, the City has discarded infection control practices such as an increased distance between shelter beds. The City also issued an eviction order against an informal encampment next to the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields, which has been deferred temporarily due to strong community advocacy. However, police harassment of both encampment residents and people living in shelters continues on a daily basis.
As we welcome the new year, we invite you to pray and advocate for social policies based on compassion and dignity. We give thanks for the networks of care and solidarity among unhoused people and their supporters, and we work for a future in which housing is treated as the human right that it is.