'We can't just hide them:' luncheon to help end women's homelessness in Nanaimo

By Spencer Sterritt
May 7, 2018 - 10:58am

Author and homelessness activist Susan Scott, who will present at a luncheon for the Samaritan House expansion.submitted

NANAIMO — Local efforts to curb homelessness and help women in need hits a turning point this week.

The Samaritan House women’s shelter is at capacity nearly every night, leaving vulnerable women on the streets and in danger. The reasons women are forced to come to the shelter are increasing, from domestic situations to unaffordable living rates.

On Tuesday, May 8, business owners, community activists and civic leaders who care about the crisis will learn, connect and share at the 2018 All Our Sisters luncheon at the Coast Bastion.

“It takes us all to do something about it,” homelessness activist and author Susan Scott says about the poverty issue.

As the keynote speaker of the luncheon, she’ll share her experience of collecting the real stories of women who live on the streets for her book All Our Sisters.

“I was trying to write a book that could be understood by many, including the women themselves who’d given me their stories,” Scott says of the book which gave rise to change at all levels of Canadian government and sparked a housing-first movement making significant positive impacts on the homelessness population. "Their stories were so horrendous and people don't see them." 

She says many didn't realize how tragic the homelessness crisis was and were shocked to hear how some women had to use public washrooms when preparing for an interview since they didn't have a home, or how much sexual abuse there was on the streets.

“One woman told me how she couldn’t afford much money on her cellphone and would be devastated when she’d call her social worker but just get an answering machine, using up what little money she had on a pointless call.”

The All Our Sisters luncheon is also a call to arms.

Samaritan House is expanding, raising $2 million to double their available space and help families in need. The campaign is underway and gaining momentum and now is the time for the community to rally behind a cause which will have real and important impacts on the street.

"I think a society that can't house everyone, and I gather in Nanaimo that means a lot of elderly women at the moment, is a sick society," Scott says. "Any by extension, we're all sick to some degree if we don't work to help our people. We can't just hide them. I think it's really important we deal with it, for everyone's sake. It takes us all to do something about it."

There will be a VIP pre-reception from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Coast Bastion where Susan will sign copies of her book and moderate a discussion with Nanaimo city councillor Sheryl Armstrong and VIP guests.

Event networking and luncheon program will be from 11:30 to 1:30. Tickets for the VIP pre-reception and Luncheon are $100 which include a copy of Susan’s book and premium luncheon seating. General lunch tickets are $50.

Tickets can be purchased online or from the Island Crisis Care Society.





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