Toronto Homeless Man’s Death Not the First

John Massie, known to his friends simply as Classy, the homeless man who died in Toronto outside a bank ATM lobby from burns he received after accidentally setting himself on fire while smoking and drinking, was not the first homeless person in the past year to suffer a similar terrible fate.

The shopping cart where police found homless woman burning

The shopping cart where police found homeless woman burning ::CBC

In Vancouver, in December, a homeless woman identified in CBC reports as simply, Tracey, died in mid-December on the streets of Vancouver. According to the report, the body of a middle-aged homeless woman was found burning in downtown Vancouver after she apparently tried to keep herself warm by burning candles in a temporary shelter she had built over a shopping cart.  The report also mentions a further death in Vancouver of a homeless couple taking shelter outside – the homeless man died and a woman with him was severely burned in January when their portable stove exploded as they used it for warmth while sheltering in a Vancouver alley.

I usually try to blog about more upbeat circumstances here on the Missionlog, but these needless deaths should not be ignored. Someone must advocate for the forgotten of our society – the street homeless. All three deaths were of homeless people trying to stay warm, faced with terribly cold weather while living on the streets. Homelessness is a critical issue no matter which city in Canada you are in, be it Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or Mississauga. Those volunteers who venture on the streets with me on Project417 outreach to the homeless have often visited the Toronto Homeless Memorial with me – in a hidden away corner in a dark courtyard behind the Toronto Eaton Center. There are listed more than 550 names of homeless men and women, young and old, who have died while trying to live out on the streets in Toronto alone. They have listened to me sharing the sad statistics: homeless youth, aged 17 to 25 are 8 times more likely to die than the general public – homeless women, 10 times more likely, middle aged and senior males have a mortality rate still 4 times higher than you or I. The recent Vancouver loss seems to have sparked some action, check the following news reports:

How do we make a difference? Where do the changes need to start? When will the misfortune of ending up homeless cease to be a virtual death sentence for so many? Check back to blog as we look into these crucial questions and seek for groundbreaking, grassroots methods to save our homeless friends. If you’d like to take part in a Project417 street outreach program in Toronto visit to find out how you can help the homeless.


2 Responses

  1. Homeless do deserve a better life with the help from the city and its residents. Thanks for pointing this up.

  2. Twenty volunteers from Bracebridge came with our friend Marlene to help us out on the streets last night. It was -30 with the windchill. We handed out almost a hundred meals, plus socks and wool hats – find out how you can help too!

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