Neighbourhood Solidarity with Unhoused Neighbours
The Fairfield Gonzales Community Association recognizes the impact sheltering in parks represents for all residents of Fairfield Gonzales, housed or unhoused. Although homelessness needs to be addressed by all levels of government, housed community members have a role to play and we work on a daily basis to support them in their efforts to assist their unhoused neighbours.
To learn more about the position of our organization, read our Board statement.
How can I help to make things better in my neighbourhood?
Join Neighbourhood Solidarity with Unhoused Neighbours
The purpose of Neighbourhood Solidarity with Unhoused Neighbours (NSUN) is to actualize housing justice and inclusive communities throughout Greater Victoria through solidarity and mutual aid.
How we do our work
We work by taking our lead from the unhoused and working collaboratively with neighbourhoods and other organizations focused on assisting the unhoused.
Neighbourhood Solidarity with Unhoused Neighbours (NSUN), formerly Fairfield Gonzales Support for the Unhoused, formed in October 2020 under the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association (FGCA) in response to homeless people camping in our neighbourhood parks: Gonzales, Hollywood, and Beacon Hill / Meegan. We quickly began working with other neighbourhoods in Victoria: James Bay, Fernwood, and North Park as over-night camping was occurring in their parks too. During the fall and winter of 2020 and the early spring of 2021, we provided food, managed donations, and generally got to know the campers.
As time went on, we distributed phones provided by Bell Canada and through the United Way, and we worked with BC Housing and PEERS to ensure that everyone who wanted housing was on the BC Housing list. By mid-May 2021, most people had moved into an indoor shelter or transitional housing. From the beginning, we have focused on relationship building, and, where possible, meeting needs as identified by the unhoused. We continued this work in the shelters and transitional housing where possible although it is much more difficult to interact with people once they go inside housing-operator run facilities. We advocate for the best care possible while people await adequate housing. We also support people to find market housing.
Unfortunately, as rental prices continue to soar in 2022 more people have fallen into homelessness, and people are once again taking shelter in tents in Victoria’s parks. Since early 2022 we have been supporting people tenting in Stadacona Park with monthly meals, providing sheltering supplies like tents and tarps and building relationships and advocating where asked. We are also very concerned about the inhumane conditions that exist on Pandora Avenue and hope to work together with organizations involved in that part of Victoria, like the Downtown Residents Association (DRA), as well as the new Mayor and Council to make things better for people on Pandora, particularly for those without homes.
How you can help
We provide necessary items to relieve poverty for unhoused people with cash donations from the community. You can donate to the group through Canada Helps here. Under the fund menu, select supporting unhoused people in the community. We believe everyone has a part to play in ending homelessness. We can help you figure out the part you’re best suited to play. Many different volunteer positions are available, with and without direct contact with unhoused people.
The best way to know what unhoused people are in need of at any particular time is to follow FGCA on Social Media (put in FB page and twitter address)
To learn more
- Helping unhoused people in Victoria’s Municipal election – CBC radio interview with Susan Z. Martin (September 28, 2022 – https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-93-all-points-west/clip/15939442-victoria-group-helping-homeless-vote)
- Interview with Trent Smith, person sheltering in Stadacona Park – interview with On the Island’s Gregor Craigie (September 21, 2022 – https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-48-on-the-island/clip/15937960-more-1000-people-signed-petition-calling-city-ban)
- Page focusing on homelessness from FGCA’s newspaper – The Observer – Sept-Nov 2022 – see page 3 https://fairfieldcommunity.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Page-1_merged_compressed-1.pdf
Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-382-4604
The group meets one Wednesday a month on Zoom at 7 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend, please email Ashley at email@example.com for the link.
Learn about homelessness in Victoria
FGCA has hosted virtual events in collaboration with the Existence Project (Facebook page for information about events). On the Existence Project’s website (https://www.theexistenceproject.ca/library/) you can watch videos featuring the stories of many people with lived and living experience of homelessness.
Recently elected (Oct 2022) City Councillor Krista Loughton is a filmmaker with a long history of documenting the realities of homelessness and the people who are living it. Her full length feature ‘Us and Them’ is not available online but you can see shorter pieces, mostly featuring people who tented in Central Park in 2020/2021, on her YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/KristaLoughton/videos).