FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
P.A.D.S. Community Network in People’s Park (Chebucto and Dublin) calls for an immediate end to evictions of unhoused people until permanent housing can be provided.
P.A.D.S. Community Network activities occur in Kjipuktuk, which is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral, unceded, and unsurrendered land of the L’nu’k (Mi’kmaq). These lands are covered by the Treaties of Peace and Friendship, which the Mi’kmaq signed with the British Crown in 1752, affirming L’nu’k land title and establishing agreements for what was supposed to be an ongoing peaceful relationship between nations. L’nu’k have had reciprocal relationships with the land since time immemorial – a relationship which continues today. Prior to 1752, there was no homelessness on Mi’kmaw lands. P.A.D.S. Community Network is committing to learning what it means to be Treaty People to do our work in the spirit of peace and friendship. We are grateful for this land, and respect and appreciate the Mi’kmaq who have taken care of it since time immemorial, and continue to do so today.
P.A.D.S. Community Network is a group of unhoused people, community members, and volunteers sharing space at Chebucto and Dublin Streets (at the space formerly known as Meagher Park now renamed People’s Park). While we are not members of Halifax Mutual Aid, our network stands in solidarity with them and supports their ongoing efforts to provide shelter and to hold the city and province to account for their complete failure to care for everyone in this society.
Following the violent evictions of unhoused people across the city on Wednesday, August 18, we have come together to defend those living in the park from any further evictions or violent police action and to provide care and support for each other. We are neighbours, people with lived and living experience of being unhoused, and people providing volunteer support services.
Over the past week, we have watched with horror as city councillors continue to spread falsehoods about the brutal policing experienced and witnessed on Wednesday, as well as the availability of housing and other social services. Those of us living in and supporting the park know first-hand that these services do not exist in any adequate way.
Every unhoused person living in the park was evicted and displaced from elsewhere in the city. In these forced removals, people lost access to medication, blankets, clothing, and all personal supplies. The city does not resource nurses or support workers on the weekends, and employs only one street navigator for all of Halifax. The P.A.D.S. Community Network and neighbours living in the area have banded together to provide compassionate, temporary housing and all the resources on site including daily meals, hot drinks, medical supplies, tents and shelters, laundry and showers, rain gear, etc. We are COVID-safe, and provide frequent rapid testing on site also.
This network is providing 24/7 care onsite to fill the gaps that the city refuses to fill, while elected officials disclaim responsibility for the housing crisis, for the decision to violently evict people from their homes, and from any sustainable solutions. We are constructing People’s Park as an anti-oppressive, family-friendly and accessible space where all can feel welcome, dignified, and supported. This weekend, we held a series of workshops, play spaces and moments of collective care and joy, and we plan to host many more of these events at the space.
Echoing the calls from the many organizations providing care, we call for Permanent, Accessible, Dignified, and Safer (P.A.D.S.) housing for all who want it. Support workers and those with experience of the shelter housing offered by the city know that the hotel rooms touted as a solution only lead to a revolving door of instability, further trauma, and more policing. Workers attest that most of their clients are rapidly evicted from the hotels. These rooms lack appliances, kitchens to prepare food, or adequate supports onsite. The same desire of the “public” to see unhoused people kept out of sight/site also exists in hotels. These so-called offers of housing touted by the city are not long-term, endanger people further, and result in even more cycles of displacement.
We support, thank, and stand in solidarity with all individuals, communities, organizations, mobilizations, and efforts taking action to create compassionate options to offer the unhoused.
We have two demands of Halifax Regional Municipality Council and Staff:
- Halifax Regional Municipality must provide permanent, accessible, dignified, and safer housing for all unhoused residents of the municipality. The promise of a hotel room for a short amount of time does not address the complex needs or wrap-around services required for People’s Park residents or other unhoused people in the municipality. The right to permanent, accessible, dignified, and safer housing is enshrined within Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in Article 21.1 of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The actions of Halifax Regional Municipality last week to violently evict unhoused residents stands in direct opposition to the expression of this right.
- Therefore, until such a time as HRM can provide P.A.D.S. housing, we demand that they grant permission under By-law P600 for unhoused residents to reside in People’s Park, and other spaces across the municipality, without fear of violent eviction or arrest by Halifax Regional Police.
The P.A.D.S. Community Network will continue to provide a compassionate, accessible, anti-oppressive, and family-friendly space in People’s Park for as long as we are able, and we encourage interested neighbours to follow our Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates, information on workshops, and information about donations.