Our willingness to continue to learn new things says a lot about the richness of our lives.  Unfortunately, it seems that lessons in homelessness are far too readily available.  In the past few days, Canadians have had a special lesson through the story of Edmonton’s Ryan Arcand. If you haven’t heard about this individual who has been homeless for many years and has both written and performed his own music on public pianos it’s well worth the read. This is another reminder of the incredible potential that is lost in our homeless populations. Let’s face it – without stable homes none of us would have the necessary foundation from which we can fulfill our potential in this world.

This foundation I’m referring to isn’t about bricks and mortar. A “home’ is much more than a roof over one’s head. I’m reminded of this after recently attending a dinner that was hosted by the Social Inclusion Advisory Committee. The purpose of this dinner was to exchange ideas and insights with those experiencing or who had experienced homelessness. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with my table-mates. I don’t want to downplay the importance of a solid infrastructure that enables affordable housing but the discussion at my table highlighted that so much more is needed.

It’s about people and relationship building. People who need suitable housing also need assistance adjusting in order to thrive in their new environments. What my table-mates talked about was the need for people who they build trust with over a period of time to help them learn life skills, to create welcoming environments where friends can meet, and to continue to provide the right amount of support once they have become a ‘success story’. In reality this is true for each of us.  No one wants to be left alone to navigate life’s challenges. It’s the people, not the bricks and mortar that are the cornerstone of our lives.

Thank you Ryan for allowing your beautiful piano music to be recorded and shared.  And thank you Andy for such excellent facilitation during our round table discussion.

Lee Anne Davies, Director Community Investment