Welcome to At The End Of the Day. I’m Hannah Sung and I write this newsletter for a people-first perspective on the news. When the news is super-depressing, don’t turn it off. Get more context.
This week, I’m sharing a radio interview that I REALLY needed to hear this week. But first, let me digress for a sec to make a point about what’s happening tomorrow in Ottawa.
There has been a takeover of my news and social feeds that has been creeping like a slow dread, going approximately the speed of a cross-country convoy. It’s been bewildering as it comes into view, like an alien ship landing — but no, it’s something rather scarier (because you never know – aliens could be friendly and science-literate).
Honk if you want this to be over
By now, you’ve heard of this Freedom Convoy happening tomorrow in Ottawa, where people are gathering under a range of far-right beliefs to ostensibly support long-haul truckers protesting a vaccine mandate.
A Guardian headline today said it best: “Canada truckers’ vaccine protest spirals into calls to repeal all public health rules.” 1
As it’s been pointed out, people with extreme racist views have been using this convoy as a cover, exploiting the image of truckers as essential workers.
“The organizers, they’re not truckers,” Evan Balgord of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network told The Toronto Star. “The truckers have condemned this.”
“There’s a wide range of grievances that are bringing people to this thing — but it really is a far-right thing.”
People who want to rail against the vaccines as if they’re the virus (maybe it’s confusing because they’re both v-words) will go ahead and do that. These people will include nefarious individuals who want to hide behind fake names.2
But when you get mad (and I am right there with you), don’t hold it against truckers. The people you’re really mad at are anti-vaxxers and white supremacists. Some trucking companies are 100% vaxxed.3 This “freedom fight” isn’t about truckers as a monolithic group of workers, especially when so many long-haul truck drivers are racialized Canadians working to keep our supply chains going. Let’s keep the focus on anti-racism and evidence-based vaccine info, rather than creating a shorthand of equating a professional capacity with repugnant views.
And when an old high school friend or your favourite Instagram vegan says they’re “inspired” and they support “freedom,” ask them whether they support Nazis.
If you’re at a protest and find yourself on the same side as actual Nazis, that’s when you may want to sit down.
I mean, this post made me lol (it’s funny because it’s true).
Can we take a minute for this palate cleanser?
This was all over my feeds and I am here for it. You GO, little viral Tweet of a cute thing! Do battle with the Freedom Convoy in my algorithms.
When a mother told her five-year-old that she was nervous for a meeting that day, he pep-talked her in the most amazing way.
Let me repeat: “I am brave of this meeting.” 😭💗 My other favourite: “I smell good!” (I do). And when all else fails:
This interview powered me through this week
Last week, I wrote about how problems like homelessness and affordable housing seem impossible to fix, and that in the face of that feeling, we have to focus on one doable action to combat that helpless feeling.
And then on Monday morning, I came in from the cold and flipped on the kitchen radio to a conversation on The Current on CBC Radio. I could not switch it off and go on with my day. I was glued.
I’m going to link to the radio segment in Further Reading below and I recommend listening to it. But first, I want to quote pretty much everything I heard from Stephen Gaetz, the director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and a professor at the Faculty of Education at York University in Toronto.
I think we've become comfortable with homelessness in a strange kind of way where many people will say, ‘Well, there's always been homelessness, there always will be.’
But actually, modern mass homelessness emerged in the ‘90s in Canada. And I think people are comfortable with it.
People often blame people who are homeless, and we have the notion of undeserving poor. People will resist the idea of housing-first because it's like, you know, why should somebody get access to housing? I paid for my housing, that kind of thing.
And so there is opposition to it. It's not a popular vote-getting issue for political parties. So it actually, I would say, requires bold leadership.
And I would say it's a non-partisan issue. All political parties should be able to wrap their heads around this and do the right thing because the damage that's done by prolonged exposure to homelessness is quite profound and it can be really difficult to undo.
And so when we keep people in that state of homelessness because we say there's nothing else we can do, we're actually not just wrong, but we're creating harm as a society.
Yes, Canada. This is us. We’re a country obsessed with real estate prices, that treats housing as a commodity rather than a human right. It’s all wrapped up in the Canadian Dream, which isn’t different from the American Dream – the idea that every individual earns what they deserve.
What’s powerful is putting the lie to this dream. As Gaetz rightly pointed out, our complacency isn’t a byproduct – it’s actually creating harm, as a society.
I loved many things about this interview, including that Gaetz brought data and policy and our own individual feelings into the conversation. Because it’s that last part, our own feelings, that can be translated into political will.
This is how Gaetz answered the question, How do you create homes to house people in this country?
Well, it's going to cost money, and so we have to make decisions about it. You know, I don't think there's a private sector solution to affordable housing for low-income people, and we have to come to terms with that in Canada.
Up to the 1980s in Canada, we were building 20,000 new units of low-income, affordable housing annually and that dropped down to basically zero in the ‘90s. So we have a history of doing this right. We can do this, but it's about political will.
I believe everyone knows what’s morally the right thing to do. It’s crystal clear.
Remember that Toronto is a city that looked a group of people in the eye last summer, a group of people who had nowhere safe to live, and spent nearly $2-million dollars on police and private security in order to forcibly evict them, leading to violence and arrests. Evict homeless people to where? Really – to where?4
I’m linking the above video because I remember chatting with a woman at the park last summer who had no idea this kind of violent clearing of encampments was happening in our city. I was shocked that she didn’t know. But it speaks to our news and information bubbles. We need to see these images.
In Toronto we know it’s possible for services to come together and provide pathways to permanent housing for people who don’t have a home. It happened with the residents of the encampment of Dufferin Grove park. 5
Looking across the country, as I learned through The Current this week, Medicine Hat, Alberta is on the path to ending homelessness in their community.
And internationally, there are examples of reducing homelessness in Wales and Finland.
All of it can be heard in this radio segment that I link to below.
Thanks for letting me break it down for you in this newsletter.
With all the noise, I just found these interviews to be the thing I most needed to hear.
Gaetz articulated how we need all levels of government to work collaboratively across party lines, and that it can all happen if we look at ourselves, our own attitudes and push our representatives to do what’s right.
I think there’s a small voice in our heads that says people are sleeping outside and there’s nothing we can do about it. Meanwhile, we somehow pretzel our logic on an out-of-control real estate market and think none of these things are related (I will tap my inner first-year university student when I say, Capitalism is a hell of a drug).
But when we shut that small voice down and use the other one, the one of moral clarity, to write letters, emails and make phone calls to all levels of government, and have conversations with friends, it adds up to political will. Change is on us. What are we going to do about it?
If you like what you’re reading, hit the heart on this newsletter, drop a comment, reply to this email (I read everything) or come find me on Instagram. I love hearing from you.
Thank you for reading,
😎😎☀️At The End Of the Day is edited by Laura Hensley ☀️😎😎
Big thanks to the team at The Current at CBC Radio for the kind of radio story I feel every Canadian needs to hear:
How Medicine Hat, Alta., can serve as a model for housing as a human right, The Current, CBC Radio. Listen for Jaime Rogers in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Stephen Gaetz as quoted above, and Juha Kaakinen, the CEO of Finland’s largest social housing enterprise
And here is a transcript if you prefer to read it (scroll down halfway to get the story on housing)
More reading on the topic of how our society treats people who are homeless, the financialization of real estate and our red-hot real estate markets because yes, all these issues are interlinked:
Hot air vents at Hamilton City Hall blocked to keep homeless away, The Hamilton Spectator
And I’m so excited for my friend Nam Kiwanuka’s new show on TVO, the first episode of which is focused on solutions to the housing crisis.
What else was I up to this week? I took part in a couple of panels for the Hot Docs Podcast Festival including this one with Media Girlfriends (our podcast production company) alongside our kindred spirit Christabel Nsiah-Buadi of My Lens Media. It was good times!
To end the week on a high note, the 2022 Media Girlfriends Student Scholarship crowdfunding campaign hit its goal of $30K ✨TODAY✨. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed, who supports it in spirit, and who wants to see a more inclusive media.
Thank you to paid supporters of this newsletter 💫
I have connected with delightful humans who will work with me to create a podcast for At The End Of the Day (I can’t wait to introduce you to them in a future newsletter).
I started a Patreon last year to get us toward the goal of paying everyone for their work. If you’ve signed up, you are getting us there — thank you!
And if you are interested in getting started, you can pay-what-you-wish via my Patreon.
Toronto watchdog to investigate homeless encampment clearings, The Toronto Star