Tag Archives: homelessness

Pop Up Toilet

I had read about the new pop up toilet on Graham Avenue in the Winnipeg Free Press so I wasn’t exactly surprised when I came upon it while walking to work the other day. Access to washrooms is a problem in the Winnipeg downtown.  Not all businesses want people who aren’t customers to use their washrooms and so people have been answering the call to nature in public spaces much to the consternation of folks who own property, walk, work and shop in  the downtown.  As a possible solution to this concern Down Town Winnipeg Biz decided to build a pop up toilet in an old shipping container and set it up in four different locations in Winnipeg over the summer. The goal is to offer a clean, accessible place to ‘use the facilities.’

The pop up toilet is managed by attendants who are there twelve hours a day.  The washrooms are closed when they aren’t there which means the toilets can’t be used twenty-four hours a day, which is unfortunate. I talked with the young man who was on duty the day I walked by and I chatted with him about the project.  The kiosk beside the pop up toilet sells water bottles, cards and even T- shirts and all proceeds go to the work of Siloam Mission which offers beds, food and support to Winnipeg’s homeless citizens.  I asked the attendant if I could just make a donation to Siloam Mission but he insisted I take a package of  art cards when I gave him some cash.  

The sign in the kiosk said that the pop up toilet was created especially with the elderly, disabled, women and children and those with care attendants in mind, since they may struggle to find accessible toilets in the downtown.  Downtown Biz is hoping to lead by example with this temporary facility so there will be public support for secure, well-maintained public permanent washrooms. Working at the pop up toilet creates employment for people from Siloam Mission who want to gain work experience to help them transition out of homelessness and poverty.  

One of the reasons I like living and working in downtown Winnipeg is you never know what interesting things will pop up as you go about your day.  It might even be a toilet!

Other posts………

Gender Neutral Washrooms

The Eaton’s Catalogue- Toilet Paper and Shin Pads

An Evening at the Forks





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Filed under Winnipeg

A Lot More Than We’d Like to Think

We saw the film I Daniel Blake last night.  It documents two stories, that of a widowed 59-year-old carpenter named Daniel who’s had a recent heart attack and doctors have ordered not to work, and a single mother named Katie who has been forced to move to a different city to secure housing for herself and her two children. Try as she might Katie simply can’t find work in her new location.  As the two are stymied time after time in their attempts to negotiate the welfare system they become friends and offer support to one another. 

I Daniel BlakeBoth the young mother and the woodworker are good people, who honestly want to be self-sufficient. Circumstances and a rigid and less than compassionate government bureaucracy make it difficult for them to receive needed benefits. It drives them both to take some demeaning actions to survive. 

The film illustrates just how easy it could be for hardworking, affable and intelligent people to become homeless and how reaching out to someone to make a connection can make a difference. 

This is not a ‘feel good’ film or easy escapist fare. We overheard a man exiting the theatre say to his companion in a voice dripping with sarcasm, “Thanks a lot for taking me to such a cheery movie.”

As we walked to our cars I asked my movie companions how many people like Daniel and Katie there could be right here in Winnipeg.  “A lot more than we’d like to think,” one of them said. 

Other posts………

Siloam Mission at the Art Gallery

Homelessness- Meeting With the Mayor

My Husband and the Pope Are On the Same Page

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Filed under Movies

Rockin For A Reason

     Alan once made a six- figure income but when he lost his job his life spiraled out of control and it wasn’t long before he found himself living in the back seat of an abandoned Mercedes Benz in a junkyard lot. Ironically Alan had once driven a Mercedes himself.

     We heard Alan’s story last Saturday night at an event organized to raise funds for Today House, a non- profit community program based in Steinbach that offers emergency shelter to people who find themselves homeless. We were there courtesy of Canadian Biosystems.

The nearly full house in attendance saw a film explaining the work of Today House. It featured interviews with founding board members Irene Kroeker and Simone Penner. We also listened to the story of a young woman with two children whose family was helped by Today House. Then Alan told us about his difficult journey trying to find the help he needed to slowly turn his life around after he became homeless. Alan now works as an advocate for homeless people in Winnipeg trying to help others who find themselves without a safe place to stay due to job loss, abusive family situations, illness or other circumstances.

The Today House fundraiser took place in the Neufeld Garage in Randolph which like Alan has had it’s life turned around. A family owned and operated business since the 1940s the building has been transformed into an event centre and community space that features elements chronicling the garage’s history, but also has a kitchen, dance floor, movie screen and stage.

  R.B.B a local music group sponsored and planned the Saturday night event called Rockin for a Reason. One of the band members told us the story of why they had decided to host the fundraiser for Today House. R.B.B was practicing one night when a young man wandered into their rehearsal space and asked if he could listen to them play. Later some of the band members chatted with him and found out he was homeless. They took him out for a meal, heard his story, and then contacted Irene Kroeker to see if Today House could be of service to the young man. Irene was able to arrange for assistance. The experience gave the group the idea of connecting their next local performance with Today House and raising funds to help other people like the young man they had encountered.

 An experience with a homeless man had also left a lasting impression on radio personality Karen Black of Country 107 who hosted the Rockin for a Reason event. She began the evening by telling us the story of her encounter with a homeless man at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg.

 Today House board member Irene Kroeker is a high school teacher. She said she had first been made aware of the problem of homelessness in Steinbach when a student walked into her classroom and told her he had not eaten for days and had no where to go for the night.

  Simone Penner who has volunteered at Today House, talked about some of the things she learned as she listened to the stories of the guests. It was clear her volunteer experience had left a lasting impression on her own life.

A theme throughout the Rockin for A Reason event was that while you may have preconceived ideas about homeless people, when you meet them personally and listen to them talk about their experiences stereotypes disappear. You begin to understand their unique situations, realize that homelessness can happen to all kinds of people, and become inspired to do something positive to help those who find themselves in that difficult situation.

Other posts……..

An Alphabet for my Hometown

A Lovely Day in Steinbach

Kornelson School

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