LETTER: More compassion for those who are suffering, please

Those of us who have a voice have a duty to speak up against the abuse of those who don’t

The Editor,

Re: “Fountain flows again,” the Now-Leader, Aug. 4.

I am a fourth-year criminology student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and I have been working on an advocacy project over the last three months regarding the treatment of the homeless population on the Surrey Strip. I have spent time talking to the people living on the Strip, asking them to share about their experiences living there. Most of the people I met there were more than happy to talk to me and were grateful to hear that people were fighting to have their voices heard.

Due to a lack of media coverage, the average citizen is not aware of what is really going on the Surrey Strip these days. The City of Surrey have turned the Surrey Strip into an open-air prison where the population is systematically contained (I’ve heard homeless who try to set up camps in other areas of the city are brought to the Strip), under constant police surveillance (RCMP have set up a detachment on The Strip and routinely stop and search the population who live there), and essentially steal from the homeless by using bylaw infractions to control what these people own and to seize what they deem a violation (the people living in tents are not allowed to have furniture or cooking supplies).

Not re-installing the street’s water fountain this summer, until just last week, because of the claim people were bathing in it just shows how petty the City of Surrey has been in its quest to control and abuse this marginalized population. The fentanyl epidemic in B.C. has forced our government to allocate more funding toward this medical issue, which is good news for those at risk. The only problem is that we seem to still be stuck in the failed “War on Drugs” policy, as more of that funding goes toward policing instead of health care.

The Surrey Outreach Team sounds like a noble movement, as the homeless population on the Surrey Strip desperately needs help for a variety of socio-economic issues. One would think that the Surrey Outreach Team would mostly consist of medical, mental health and social workers, but instead it is comprised of 12 RCMP officers who work the Strip 24/7, four bylaw officers (10 hours/day), and Fraser Health and Emergency Health Services personnel.

I am glad to hear 800 people signed the petition to have the water fountain turned back on. I am glad to hear that the petition was successful and that the water fountain is operational again. As a former addict who has spent time on the streets, I am appalled at the way our government treats people with mental health issues. The lives of people suffering from such issues are tough enough; we don’t need the government abusing us anymore than we have already been.

I don’t know how the people who decide to employ such petty and abusive tactics against one of the most victimized populations sleep at night. I have never met a person who aspired to be suffering from mental health, addiction and/or homelessness. We don’t always have control over all our life circumstances. We need to have more compassion for those who are suffering, and those of us who have a voice have a duty to speak up against the abuse of those who don’t.

If you are interested in this issue, we have created a Facebook page called “Citizens Against The Criminalization of Poverty in Surrey.” Please check it out and help carry our message.

Andrew Lawrence

Just Posted

Facing reality of death, Surrey man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Mobility commission investigates how to charge Surrey motorists

32 Avenue and 152 Street considered ‘key congestion area’

VIDEO: Double-decker bus pilot in Langley gets rave reviews

The ceiling is a little low, but other than that, everyone seems to be a fan

Emaciated dog brought to Surrey shelter now healthy and up for adoption

Eclipse came into the Surrey Resource Animal Shelter last summer in skeletal, calloused condition

Comic Strippers return to Surrey’s Bell a year after ‘milestone’ show there

‘That was our biggest show ever,’ says Ken Lawson of male-stripper parody/improv-comedy production

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

B.C. out of the running for Amazon’s next headquarters

Toronto is the only Canadian city left in the running despite the province backing Metro Vancouver’s bid for new Amazon headquarters

B.C. hockey player nominated for Hobey Baker Award

Myles Powell is a forward at Rochester Institute of Technology

Post interest rate hike debt tips

What to do about your debt and mortgages after the interest rate hike

Foreign workers sleeping in Alberta Burger King basement

Alberta Health Services said its inspectors found foreign workers sleeping in the basement of the Lethbridge restaurant

Court application halts release of bread price-fixing documents

Bread price-fixing documents won’t be unsealed Thursday, Loblaw says

Bad behavour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

Pharrell and N.E.R.D to headline NBA All-Star halftime show

11-time Grammy winner Pharrell and his hip hop-rock band N.E.R.D. will headline the halftime show at the 2018 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles

Heritage Minister wants zero tolerance for harassment in entertainment industry

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly had two meetings to discuss harassment in the film, TV and theatre worlds

Most Read