I had the opportunity to read the article that you wrote, Columbia Street West is no place for social housing. I was intrigued by the title and disappointed by the content. First, starting your article with ‘we’, implying that as a community Kamloops shares your opinion on people living without homes.
You immediately dehumanize them by referring to them as street people. You created an “us vs them” narrative by labelling and putting them into a marginalized and socially deviant category. Additionally, you empathize that “they don’t live by our norms”. What norms are they actively trying to oppose?
You also mention that some are drug addicted. This is an interesting point that you’ve chosen to highlight as many people that have homes are also addicted to drugs and can also be violent. I am curious as to why you did not bring them up as a possible danger to elementary schools or the peaceful downtown lifestyle.
This article used subtle and oppressive language that has a very othering affect. The phrase that struck me the most was, “Their behaviour is inconsistent with family life in a neighbourhood…more advantaged folks deserve to live safely and in peace and quiet.”
I am confident that most people would love to feel safe and stable in their living arrangement and most people would feel very lucky to be able to choose what part of town they live in, free of consequences. Most of us are very privileged and we can complain about our neighbourhood.
Some people, like the people you are referencing in your article, don’t have the luxury of deciding where they live nor do they have the luxury to be able to move onto a new neighbourhood because us ‘more advantaged’ folks are bothered by their lifestyle.
You also chose to mention two serious police incidents that resulted in a neighbourhood lockdown. Would you be able to provide any sources that show that those incidents were a direct result of the location of the low-income housing? You specifically mention one being a shooting and one being a domestic dispute. I would be interested to hear from local RCMP as to what areas report more incidents that would fall under both categories.
Did you know that as of November 2019 Kamloops was listed as the 67th most dangerous city in Canada? I do believe they are referring to Kamloops as a whole and not just Columbia Street West. https://www.macleans.ca/canadas-most-dangerous-places-2020/
Language is a powerful tool that people with a platform should be held accountable for. We can provide a positive message or one that perpetuates stereotypes, oppression and marginalization of people that are already facing an uphill battle.
My humble suggestion is, we should all count our blessings for the privilege that we do have and the fact that we are lucky enough to have a home, with a bathroom. And we are lucky enough to not live addicted to drugs.
You use the word ‘congregate’ when you mention people without homes being together. What I see are people that have created the only sense of community that they can and are protecting one another in whatever ways that are necessary because the dominant population does not respect their dignity or their struggles.
In the future, it would be very inspiring if you noticed a situation such as the low income housing on Columbia, or the defecation at Beattie elementary and provided a list of resources that need more funding to take care of these situations. Or perhaps highlight organizations that are doing what they can to help those that need it.
Instead of using language to divide people, use your platform and your ability to use language in a way that builds community. With or without a home, we are all members of the Kamloops community and it is up to us as a team to make the changes we would like to see in our city.