A letter to Nanaimo

By Amber, Peer Leader Nanaimo CAT

WARNING: This blog contains mention of sexual abuse

Dear Nanaimo,

I am writing this letter to inform you, the city I have grown to love and the city I chose and raised my daughter in, that it is time to WAKE UP!

There are many things I love about Nanaimo, your scenery, the amount of time it takes to get to the scenery, parks, lakes, river, mountains and ocean, the music scene and arts community, and some of the amazing people I’ve met over the years.

It has recently been brought to my attention that Nanaimo just isn’t safe for women that are single any more, or for people that are on their own for that matter. You see I don’t think it’s right or fair that one should have to “put out” or “partner up” to have a safe place to be whether in a home or on the streets. If this is the case then this is unacceptable! And unfortunately this is the case!

No one should ever feel the pressure of having to do either of these things to feel safe, period, in any part of our beautiful planet! It is time for society, not just Nanaimo in this case, to wake up!

You see a week ago I found myself in the predicament I’m in and it was shocking. I suddenly had nowhere to go. I’ve always been resourceful and figured things out for myself and my family in a quick time so that we never had to be homeless. We always found a place to go and I have always held my door open to those that didn’t. I fed and clothed, showered and let folks stay on my couch if they needed. Dozens of Nanaimoites I’ve taken in under my wing. I wouldn’t change that for the world and I have no regrets in helping those in need.

Back to me now, I found myself with nowhere to go and reached out to the many resources and service providers I could think of, even learned about new ones and called them too. No one could help. No one had a bed available for a single woman fleeing abuse from a family member.

You see, Nanaimo only helps women fleeing from an abusive partner, or you have to go to the regular women’s shelter. But with over 600 homeless people and only 75 beds for those people, it’s first come first served and once you get in you stay put…

So what do you do? Well you either partner up or put out for the night so a man or another person will stay with you, or you risk the danger of being attacked by vigillantes, taken by traffickers and pushed into sex work, or being robbed, raped or beaten because this has what our society has come to.. How anyone can just shrug and accept it until they have been put in this yucky situation is beyond my understanding.

I have always thought a bit differently than everyone I guess. My grandmother always said if you see someone with less than you or in need and you are able to help, then help them.

I understand we individuals are unable to help everyone with the cost of food and rent or mortgages – it is impossible to afford to help everyone, but as a community and a country we are able to afford to help those with less than others. We can afford to build the affordable housing so desperately needed in our communities. We CAN DO IT, we just have to want to and tell our city council to make our community better! That is why we have politicians! To do the work we ask to make our community better for all.

But when councils are receiving emails from a select few people that do not want change or to progress forward what does one do? I guess partner up and suck it up to be safe so we don’t face the ugliness that is out there or leave.

I’m saddened to admit I have had to leave the city I love in order to remain safe, I’ve had to leave my grandson because there was nowhere to be and that just isn’t right, to be blunt. 27 years I’ve lived in Nanaimo and contributed in a positive way whether paying taxes, being employed and helping business grow, helping those less fortunate and privileged than others. It seems like so many women these days, 44 with grown children, to be in a stage of life where we are expected to be married and own a home or even be in a second marriage. I chose a different route.

I chose to focus on my child and raise her as best I could on my own while supporting her relationship with her father so she had a good male role model. Why should I be punished for being a strong independent woman? Instead of finding support and help I have found women telling me to stay quiet, don’t rock the boat, keep my head down and do what I need to get what I need. This saddens me to no avail. The research has been done, points have been made and advice given so many times on this subject. It’s time to WAKE UP! So others don’t have to be traumatized and forced into situations they don’t want to be in.

Written By: Amber, Peer Leader Nanaimo CAT

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