I am usually not one to participate in this type of forum, but I realized I should share one of my most favorite Edmonton cultural moments in recent years because it exemplifies a spirit and expression unique to our city.
I was at the last Oilers game played in Rexall Place. I am a long time Oilers fan, as a lot of us are in this city, and wanted to be at the last game to be a part of the end of an era. After the game, there was ceremony to say goodbye which featured many Oilers alumni that was accompanied by the Edmonton Symphony. Right in front of me, my worlds were colliding as
Georges Laraque came out to my favorite Mozart Symphony. I couldn’t think of anything more perfectly matched for how I was feeling. The thing is, no one thought it was strange to have the Symphony there. It was the right thing to mark the reverence of the occasion and people took it as part of the experience even though I know many of those in the audience had probably never heard a live symphony before. This is what YEGculture means to me.
What is most important to me about living in Edmonton is that I have always had a home to live in, and a family to care for me. I have never had to worry about being outside for a long time in a cold Edmonton winter. Or stuck outside in the sometimes very hot summers, we are in a fairly extreme climate. Not everyone in this city is as lucky, and we have homeless people in Edmonton. Often times people who end up on the streets do not actually choose to be there. When we live in a climate as unforgiving as ours, people die in the streets of Edmonton every year. It would be amazing to transform Rexall place, or part of it, into a multi-purpose rehabilitation center and housing for the homeless.
Rexall place could have large indoor gardens and greenhouses, and could have many small apartments set up to get people off the streets. Services offered could include, check in, free yoga in the mornings, registration for health care cards and any type of documentation missing, disability funding, which could help pay their rent in the little space. They could be required to participate in meditation and yoga, or exercise and mindfulness programs, could have help with goal setting classes, resume building, career information sessions, etc. (I would be willing to volunteer in this sort of facility) People could be given jobs to do around the center which would help pay for their space (at the minimum wage). This would help get people off the streets, and give them something to do, and also open up countless job opportunities for the many Edmontonians that are in need of jobs currently. People could work hours daily to clean and maintain the space, cook and provide services for others. There could be a little market place inside of the large center part of the arena. The possibilities are truly endless!
A city that lets its people die and live in homelessness is not a city to be proud of.
I would love to see Edmonton truly and wholeheartedly commit to helping all of its people, without exclusion, separation, and elitism. All egos aside, we are all human beings. All human beings are deserving of love and acceptance, and help. When we nurture and care for things, they grow and bloom. When we cast them away and tell them we hate them, they become wilted, disfigured, and die. We are only as strong as our weakest members, and we cannot move forward as humanity while we allow people to die outside because we are CHOOSING to not help, and to blame other things. The time is now to take responsibility for our people, and to do the best we can with the resources we ALREADY have available to us.
The time is now to be a leader on the world stage. Lead by example. You have to be willing to make the choice to take a chance, or things will never change. We are ready.
Thank you for reading.