Help Canadian homeless before helping the world

Canadians need to start looking at how they can help their fellow citizens down on their luck, homeless.

A new year has arrived, and people might be looking to make New Year’s resolutions. One New Year’s resolution that is popular is to give more to charity.

People might intend on giving more charity to feel more generous. People might think that they need to send money to fight malaria in Mali or sponsor a Syrian refugee to be charitable, but they do not have to look far if they want to help the less fortunate.

There are more and more people living on the streets in major cities across Canada. Canadians should be looking to solve this problem before they try to solve the world’s problems.

Raising the Roof estimates that 35,000 Canadians experience homelessness on any given night. An estimated 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year.

Homeless people need to be humanized because they are regular people who have fallen on tough times.

Consider Blair Wall, a homeless person in Toronto.

Wall used to live in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L. About two years ago, Wall was called by his cousin, telling him that there was a place to stay and a job for him in Toronto.

“I hitchhiked 2,400 kilometres and came to no place to stay and no job,” he said.

He said that it is tough living on the streets. He avoids using the Toronto shelter system.

“It’s absolutely horrible,” he said. “There’s no security for your things. There’s a lot of drugs within the shelter system, and people are stealing all of the time.”

Helping homeless people will allow them to feel less marginalized. People end up homeless because of poverty, unemployment, family violence, or other, various reasons. People with mental illnesses are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

Consider Jason Serroul, a former homeless person in Toronto.

Serroul has been living on and off the streets for 17 years because of mental illness.

“I can actually count the number of times on both hands how many times I’ve slept inside and watched TV in 10 years,” said Serroul.

He recently found an apartment to stay in.

“I think that any place should try to do what they can to help the homeless,” he said. “Every single person in that situation, needing to utilize the facilities of the community and the government, should be able to.”

Rather than walk past homeless people, Canadians should acknowledge their presence. Canadians should stop and give homeless people a few coins or any extra food they might have.

If Canadians want to be more generous than that, they can donate to charities who are committed to helping homeless people or volunteer their time at a soup kitchen.

Canadians could go further by writing letters to politicians about this issue. They can ask politicians to commit to improving conditions in homeless shelters or to divert some of the more than $6 billion spent on foreign aid to ending homelessness in Canada.

Charity begins at home. Canadians should look at what is wrong with their countrymen and countrywoman and ask themselves what they can do to help.