Tent City Under Attack

STATEMENT FROM TENT CITY:  City moving to displace encampment!

OTTAWA-  at 4PM Friday, November 29th, we received news that in less than 72 hours we must vacate tent city.  We must move our homes by 10am on Monday, December 2nd, or a trespass order will be enforced. If we are not gone, they will dismantle our homes.

Last week, on Sunday, November 24th, there was a fire at tent city. It was a targeted arson. The fire was intentionally and purposefully started by someone who was not a resident and wanted to displace those of us who reside here. The Nationafirel Capital Commission and the City of Ottawa are now saying that because of this fire we are no longer allowed to make this place our home. They are using this attack to force us to disperse and displace us into the dangers of isolation. We have nowhere else to go.

In the ongoing crisis of housing in our city, we found a home; a home that was supported by those in the community who have one, a home that was supported by community organizations, a home that we called home while we work to gain housing.

Imagine having your home burnt and the City of Ottawa saying you can’t rebuild it. One of our community members who lost their tent to the fire was collecting presents for their family for Christmas. All of these belongings and the shelter they had constructed are now gone. This loss has rattled our sense of belonging.

The National Capital Commission claims to be “building strong relationships with people” as part of its mandate. The City of Ottawa administers housing related supports. Instead of public-health informed support and advocacy, both parties are now insisting that tent city residents cannot rebuild or stay.

There is an irony, that the City and the NCC are forcibly removing us from this community based on claims of “safety.” And yet, the question resounds, remove us to then go where? Relocate us to where? Exist where? Jim Watson, where do you want us to exist?

We know that this is not really about the fire. We know that yet again, the City of Ottawa is choosing the criminalization of poverty and homelessness over community-based supports. This approach is a program of disenfranchisement that our government implicitly and explicitly wages upon us every day. We have been denied the streets, we have been denied a common space to exist, and yet when we carve one out, it is burnt.

We are grateful to so many in the community whose overwhelming generosity has been a rallying point in knowing that this isn’t just about us, but about all of our brothers and sisters that are living with nowhere to lay their heads peacefully at night.

While different levels of government fight over who has to pay, we are burnt, occupied, and displaced.

Stay tuned to updates as the weekend evolves & how you can help.  To the many of you who support us, thank you for your ongoing support.