This Beautiful City
This is the view from my office window this morning. This beautiful city. Past the oceans of vehicles and mountains of brick, the original Twin Towers reach for the sprawling Saskatchewan sky. The federal courthouse sits to the left, grinding the gears of justice. To the left across the street, City of Regina employees work to keep the clocks ticking and grease the wheels of day to day life. Between it all and just out of view is Victoria Park, where people from all walks of life meet. Businesswomen, street vendors, dogs walking their owners, library dwellers and protesters all make Victoria Park a unique mixture of humanity at any given time. The shared excitement of another CFL season for our beloved Roughriders is in the air. The passion we feel for the Regina Pats as they march to the Memorial Cup is palpable. The heartbeat of our city lies on Treaty 4 territory, shared generously with settlers, immigrants and weary travelers by Indigenous neighbors. Our city is beautiful.
But not everyone has the ability to see it this way. This comes from my privilege. Those living in homelessness and poverty don't necessarily see the bright, shining beacon many of us see. They see a city that has forgotten them. In spite of their strength and resilience to survive, they see a city that doesn't recognize their place and value, walking past them in the daily commotion of work and play. Homelessness is all around us, both hidden and visible, but it's easy for us to ignore in our daily organized chaos. Many living on the margins of our society don't feel so warmly about Regina and her inherent goodness as they face the daily reality of trying to survive in what feels like an unforgiving landscape.
How do we bridge these two visions of our city?
It's common for people to do one of two things when faced with homelessness. We can ignore it, walking past and pretending it's not there. Many are frozen in despair when they look at the situation, as they know lives are on the line. Both of these responses are rooted in feeling hopeless. If we think nothing will change, it's easy to either ignore it or be frozen by the weight of it all. This is the tension I live with. Working in the service sector, you see and hear stories daily of people sleeping in bank lobbies or back alleys, with little to no support and caught up in the cycle of poverty and homelessness fueled by mental health struggles, addiction and trauma. I want to present a third way to view homelessness, one that rises above willful ignorance and hopeless despair.
As I look out on our city today, I feel the perfect mixture of hope and determination. I love this place. The prairie sky and its sunset is like nothing else. The general kindness between neighbors or the support given when strangers are in a tough spot makes this place unique, something rarely found elsewhere. Close knit communities living together. Yet, those living in homelessness have often been overlooked and don't feel part of the tightly woven fabric of daily life. They have not been able to see the beauty I see. And I'm determined to change that.
Hopeful determination is not some distant hope that we do nothing about until later. We start working now. It's hope followed by hard work, communicating value and dignity to those struggling in our city. It's a hope that is seen in the many organizations working to end homelessness and make our city just for all. You can feel it in the coffee room at Carmichael Outreach and kindness of the staff at Phoenix HOMES. It's tasted in the warm meals provided by Souls Harbour Rescue Mission and felt in the Emergency Shelter provided by YWCA. This hope is found in Street Culture being a safe place for lost youth with nowhere to go. This hope is there if you look closely enough. And it's another reason I love this city. Because we aren't there yet, but we are going to get there. Groups are coming together to plan and strategize what an end to homelessness looks like in Regina. It's not happening fast enough, but it is happening. So I choose today to live with hopeful determination. The more our society becomes hopefully determined and joins the vision of an end to homelessness, the sooner we will get there. Homelessness doesn't need to exist in our city.
I love this place. It's beautiful.
Let's make it beautiful for everyone.