Editor, The News:
Re: City tosses shelter issue to province (The News, Oct. 14).
I was dismayed to read that people living at the temporary homeless shelter are facing direct abuse from members of our community.
It’s bad enough to read the hateful comments, but finding out that those people are being physically targeted by self-described upstanding citizens of Maple Ridge is beyond the pale.
I attended a showing of the excellent film entitled Us and Them put on by Cinema Politica last week.
The evening included a panel of three people who had all been homeless at some point in their lives.
With support from elders, one had escaped her previous life and gone on to get a degree in social work. She is now helping other women as they transition to a life outside of prison.
Listening to her speak, it was hard to imagine that she had once been a drug-addicted prisoner who had experienced homelessness and the loss of family ties.
One thing that became obvious during the evening is that the homeless are often victims of trauma and generally have poor self-esteem.
For us to heap scorn on these vulnerable people is the epitome of thoughtlessness and accomplishes absolutely nothing.
I’m proud of the work our council is doing to help these people lead a more dignified and fulfilling life.
It will be a long and difficult road, but we will all be better people for our efforts in this matter.
I’m also proud of the way our RCMP are handling this file.
I sincerely hope that our city gets the cooperation and support that will be needed from our MLAs, Doug Bing and Marc Dalton, so that the whims of a loud and wrong-headed minority in our community don’t scuttle important initiatives.
There are many people out here who are not falling prey to the latest moral panic and who believe that a compassionate approach is the only way to go.
We can only hope that cooler heads will prevail and good decisions will get the support they deserve.
Elizabeth J. Rosenau
Re: ‘Like it or not’ (Letters, Oct. 19).
Kudos to Dan Olson for articulating what many caring and compassionate people in Maple Ridge think regarding the shelter and homeless issues.
I agree that there seems to be a lot of ignorance and misinformation on these complex issues of homelessness, addiction and mental illness.
The right to shelter is a basic human need, and we should treat our homeless citizens with the respect and dignity they deserve.
There seems to be a tendency by the anti-shelter group to portray these people as criminals. Drug addiction and mental illness are medical issues, and should be treated as such.
I spent 32 years working in many parts of Canada and one U.S. state as a registered nurse (now retired), and I can assure you that I speak from experience. Let’s go after the drug dealers, who are the major criminals, especially with the addition of deadly fentanyl added to the mix.
For those in our community who are anti-shelter, or fearful regarding this, I urge you to attend the Community Dialogue on Homelessness in order to educate yourselves about these important issues.