Bernice Kamano speaks at the National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day event on Dec. 21

Bernice Kamano speaks at the National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day event on Dec. 21

Remembering those who died living on the street

Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness holds vigil for homeless people who have died on the street.

  • Dec. 29, 2015 2:00 p.m.

— Kevin Underhill

When Bernice Kamano told the small crowd, during a candlelight vigil on National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, about a young man who had passed away living on the streets, she couldn’t bring herself to read the whole story.

The young aboriginal man had battled homelessness among other issues in his all-too-short lifetime. Attendees and stopper-bys at Whale Wall in downtown on Dec. 21, listened to somber presentations and observed a moment of silence, remembering those who passed away living on the streets in 2015. It was only fitting that a cold wind accompanied the shortest day of the year. The sentiment was clear from the beginning and echoed throughout the event: end homelessness in Victoria.

Hilary Marks, with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, led the event as volunteers passed out electric candles. She hopes one day they won’t have to hold this event at all.

“By law we all have the right to housing but unfortunately we don’t all have it,” Marks said. “I wish we could stop this and just house people and have them living longer and have a better quality of life.”

Marks said the mission is to end homelessness by 2018 and she thinks if everyone is on board and doing the right things, there’s no reason they can’t accomplish their goal.

“I’m hopeful and I’m keeping my faith that it’s going to happen.”

Among the roughly 35 people in attendance was Jeremy Loveday, a Victoria city councillor. He said this event serves as a reminder of the work that needs to be done to find a home for everyone in the city.

“I’m here to remember what people without homes face on a daily basis,” Loveday said. “This event raises awareness but it’s really about remembering and holding space for those who have lost their lives living on the street.”

According to Loveday, the coalition reports that 367 people are sleeping on the streets or in shelters every night. Marks said the mayor and council are doing a good job — more than past governments have done — but added municipal leaders can’t do it all.

“We need new provincial government. Housing is a right and Christy Clark doesn’t seem to understand that,” she said. “We need money, we need housing and we need to start building.”

The emotional presentations came to a close and whatever sunlight was left disappeared as the crowd dispersed. National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day may have come to a close but for many, life on the streets is an every-night battle.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

A 45-metre tall call tower is proposed for Westhills Stadium. (Black Press Media file photo)
New cell tower proposed for Westhills Stadium in Langford

Tower will increase capacity in congested network: staff report

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read