Stadacona ­Neighbour Support Network update

›› Andrew Kerr, Stacie Swain, James Davis, and Alieda Blandford

Stadacona Park has seen a lot of changes over the last month. For one, you’ll likely notice less tents. Some unhoused ­neighbours have moved into temporary shelters while ­others, because of the lack of adequate housing options and ­reinstatement of bylaws, are made to pack up at 7:00am. One neighbour, who may be familiar from April’s Village Vibe, has gained housing. Ron Beland says “thank you” to everyone who he shared a friendly word or Frisbee toss with, and to all those who provided support.

Since first writing about our informal group of Fernwood residents, the Stadacona Neighbour Support Network (SNSN), much has been accomplished. In ­partnership with Fernwood NRG, we hosted two Legal Observer trainings. Legal Observers are third-party witnesses who document the conduct of police, bylaw, and public officials to foster accountability and more respectful interactions. Alongside this, the addition of weekly BBQs has arguably been the most impactful upon both SNSN members and Stadacona residents.

We learned the importance of mutual aid, as opposed to charity, through the BBQs. Our neighbours didn’t want handouts, they wanted to contribute and feel like part of a community. Neighbours, housed and unhoused, came together to provide condiments, veggies, and meat for grilling. One week, we celebrated four birthdays (with homemade cupcakes). Some BBQs would be quieter, while others saw us sit and talk for hours. The most important part was that we were there and all were welcome.

While the park may look different, some things have changed and others haven’t. SNSN members have learned much from new relationships of care, reciprocity, and solidarity. Although temporary shelters will transition some people into permanent ­housing, they often lack a rights-based approach and don’t address the ­affordability crisis. The SNSN plans to maintain our new relationships, advocate for safe and ­dignified housing, and continue cultivating a ­compassionate neighborhood.