Open Letter to Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa City Council regarding defunding of Shawenjeagamik (House of compassion) - 510 Rideau St.

March 5, 2015

Dear Mayor Watson,

As a social justice organizations with over 35 years experience working in Ottawa, the Ontario Public Interest Research Group Carleton (OPIRG-Carleton) is writing to urge the city to reconsider its decision to cut funding to the Odawa Homeless Drop-In Centre (510 Rideau) and recognize the invaluable work that happens at 510 everyday. We join the Odawa Native Friendship Centre in requesting the City of Ottawa to re-establish funding to the Homeless Drop-in Centre at 510 Rideau and to make ending Aboriginal Homelessness a priority for the Ottawa region.

OPIRG-Carleton understands that colonialism, racism and violence have played a detrimental role in the relations of Canadian governments with Indigenous People. These funding cuts do not assist the City in developing relations based on equality, respect and an understanding of Canada’s obligations to Indigenous Peoples.  They do not show an appreciation of the impacts of residential schools or the sixty’s scoop on Indigenous peoples, families and communities. This sentiment was captured by a sign held by a person protesting the cuts that read “Took our land, Taking our Drop In”.

The drop-in centre is an example of money well spent by the city. It provides support and services to 60-100 people per day and importantly is able to provide culturally appropriate support for Indigenous people who are homeless in Ottawa. The centre is not expendable. OPIRG-Carleton urges the City to recognize this and restore its funding.  While putting money toward long-term housing for those who need is important, it cannot be at the expense of meeting urgent needs of homeless and low-income people.  

As the city prepares to vote on budget on March 11th, OPIRG-Carleton encourages councillors to recognize the vital work of 510 Rideau Centre and restore its funding.

Sincere regards,

OPIRG-Carleton

Posted on March 10, 2015 .