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Local group creates documentary to address stigma against homelessness

Community Connections Society of Southeast BC (CCS) was behind a documentary meant to address the stigma against homelessness.

The 17-minute video features the stories of local residents who fell into homelessness and bounced back.

“We had three Cranbrook residents who allowed us to kind of invade their lives and look at their situation surrounding their experience around homelessness,” said Erin Pan, homeless outreach and prevention coordinator with the CCS. “We made a mini-documentary called The Will to Change, and we would encourage people to watch it and share it.”

“We hope that it impacts people by giving some compassion and understanding of the plight of individuals who are homeless, have faced homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless,” said Pan.

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According to Tracy Pound, fellow homeless outreach and prevention coordinator with the CCS, homelessness is an issue that impacts everyone.

“We see working families, individuals, seniors, I think the oldest we’ve seen is 89 years old,” said Pound. “There’s all these pre-conceived ideas about what homelessness or people at risk of homelessness looks like. I think it’s important to try to have compassion and that life can affect all of us, and it can happen to anyone. We’re all human beings.”

Pound said compassion is an important part of understanding the struggles that homeless residents go through.

“I think a lot of the stigma comes from our societal values and our belief systems have us painting people who are in a bad spot with a broad brush,” said Pound. “We kind of seem to want to jump on them as opposed to trying to understand the circumstances that got them there.”

According to the 2020 homeless count, there were 63 people identified as homeless in Cranbrook.

Of them, 74 per cent had been in Cranbrook for at least one year, and 44 per cent have been in the community for 10 or more years.

“I’d like to address the rumour that there were people bused into Cranbrook who are homeless. There was bussing that happened during the pandemic and it was in the Lower Mainland,” explained Pan. “It was taking people who were in encampments by bus to single-room occupancy accommodation. It wasn’t busing people around to other areas of the province, and taking people from the lower mainland into the interior.”

You can watch The Will to Change through the link below.

More: The Will to Change (Community Connections Society of Southeast BC)

More: Community Connections Society of Southeast BC

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