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John Bonnar is an independent journalist covering social justice events in and around Toronto through print, photo, audio, video and slideshows. You can connect with him on Facebook (John Bonnar) or on Twitter at @johnb98 or on YouTube at johnb98.

Homeless memorial remembers those who died on the streets

| August 15, 2009
Homeless memorial remembers those who died on the streets


They held candles, bowed their heads and observed a moment of silence for the men, women and children who died of homelessness in Toronto.  

“This month we have no new names that must be added,” said the minister.

“Not that we know of anyway,” said one of the mourners.

“We pray this month we were spared more deaths,” added the minister.

On the second Tuesday of the month, they gather outside the Church of the Holy Trinity to mourn the dead. The Homeless Memorial, a small wooden structure near the steps to the entrance, contains over 600 names of those who have lived and died on the streets.

But the issue of underreporting means at least half of the names of people who died homeless don’t appear on the Memorial.

“I’ll probably end up like half of the people on that list,” said a 32-year-old homeless man, pointing to the memorial. “I decided to do today what I hoped I wouldn’t and I’m doing it right now.”

He doesn’t want to die.

He’s looking for help, been trying all his life.

“Even if you don’t live like us,” he said, “maybe you do, same stresses but we don’t know how to operate.”

He panhandles, but doesn’t think that’s a crime. Because sometimes it gets hard out on the streets. He’s seen a lot of things, even though he’s only in his early 30’s. Dropped out of school when he was 14. Only has grade 10. Started smoking pot. Started to understand that nobody’s going to look after you unless you look after yourself.

“But I was looking the wrong way,” he said. “And all of a sudden I’m starting to pray to God that I don’t die.

People don’t know him. He never shows his real side.

“Just gotta worry about yourself sometimes,” he said. “When you forget about yourself, that’s when you lose.”

That’s how they lost a lot of good friends in the streets. 




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