Toronto’s Mark the Litter Guy – Out on the streets

Our friend, Mark the Litter Guy, was featured in a story in the Toronto Star last week. If you are anywhere around Queen Street West in Toronto in the Spadina to Bathurst area, then you will be familiar with Mark.

photo -thestar.com

Mark works out on the street all day, sometimes for 10 or more hours picking up litter. No, he doesn’t work for the city, or I should say – he is not employed by the city. But Mark spends his days picking up the litter that lays all over our Toronto city streets. With a broom and seemingly endless supplies of green garbage bags 9for which he depends on donations), Mark is out there cleaning up the mess that other inconsiderate people leave behind. He has a sign affixed to his back that explains to people why he is doing such a job and he’ll accept spare change, or any amount of cash if you think what he is doing is worthwhile. This is not panhandling with a catchy phrase on your cardboard sign – Mark is, in effect self-employed, proof that the free enterprise system is alive and well amongst Toronto’s poor and under-housed and under-employed residents. Mark is an encouragement to his friends and the Queen West small business along the street really appreciate his efforts and contribute to his cause. Still he faces discrimination daily, people name calling and worse. But undaunted, Mark will be out there tomorrow, and the next day…and the next day – proving that the poor don’t need a hand up or a hand out, just a hand extended in appreciation and friendship.

Read Mark’s last two blog posts here and here.

Read the Star article Pickup artist make a clean sweep online.

What do you think is the root cause of Homelessness? Read it here and then join the #whyhomeless movement on Twitter.

Concert Fundraiser for Bloor Lansdowne Community Dinner

Bloor Lansdowne Community Dinner presents

A Cup of Cold Water

in concert, Saturday May 23rd at 7:00 pm

Where: 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario

South side of Bloor Street, just west of Lansdowne, steps from the Lansdowne TTC subway stop, extra parking at the Value Village next door

Why?

A “Pay What You Can” fundraiser with all proceeds going to support the weekly Wednesday night community dinner. For over a year BLCF has been hosting a free meal program for residents of the neighbourhood – homeless or under-housed, lonely seniors, young single parent families, residents of nearby transitional housing and the working poor. Every week we have more than sixty guests, some nights serving over one hundred home-cooked meals.

This is not a “soup kitchen’ program. It’s more like inviting neighbours over for dinner. Developed and operated in partnership with Project417. The tables are set, the ambiance is friendly and we serve our guests at the table restaurant style – hearty and homemade meals and tasty desserts. Dinner is served fr0m, 6 to 8pm. All night there is live music – folk, roots rock, acoustic – often featuring our friend Terry, guitarist / vocalist and songwriter of the duo A Cup of Cold Water.

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BLCF Bloor Lansdowne Community DinnerBloor Lansdowne CommunityDinner is hosted by the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship at the church located at 1307 Bloor Street West, where they have been serving the local area for more than 70 years.

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Come on down for a great night out and help feed the hungry right in our neighborhood. Questions, call (416)535-9578

On the web at blcf.info

Visit the Facebook group

Toronto Tamil protest increasingly disruptive

Toronto Tamil Protest – latest demonstration

[read the full post here]

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The Tamil community has probably lost much moral support as a result of the disruptions yesterday. I first reported on their denigrating verbal assault on a defenceless homeless woman on University Avenue and the protesters attempts to dislodge her from the small patch of concrete she sleeps on last week. I lost respect for their protests then, even though I support an end to the violence in Sri Lanka.

Many will be similarly opposed to the local Tamil community’s support of the Tamil Tigers, offficially known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and classified as terrorists by the Canadian government. Many in history have called rebels freedom fighters, and to a certain extent the designation is often decided by the winning side in a civil war. But terrorism has an uglier side, and I’m reminded that some in Canada viewed the FLQ – the Front de Liberation du Quebec – as freedom fighters – when in fact they were violent criminals best known for murdering Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte and stuffing him in the trunk of a car. The FLQ committed more than 200 violent crimes including terrorist bombings resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians….

read more | digg story

The distateful under-belly of the Tamil protest in Toronto

Discrimination and hate-speech mar protest

(read the rest here – Canada News)

Harassing the homeless: deplorable conduct

One incident, not reported in the news until now, revealed to me the distasteful underbelly of the Tamil protest movement in the GTA and their view of the community they have chosen to live in. I work for Project417 a grassroots charity that helps the homeless out on the streets of Toronto. I’m out there several nights a week with volunteer groups of about ten to fifteen people, meeting with our homeless friends who are absolutely without shelter, sleeping on the streets of Toronto. As we passed the Tamil protest one night recently on University Avenue in front of the Court buildings we were headed to visit one friend, a homeless lady who has been sleeping nearby for several months – right through the depths of the winter…

Groups of protesters began visiting her, many of them Tamil Canadian youth. They yelled at her, they swore at her. They told her to leave, because they didn’t want her sleeping there. They said she was dirty and indecent. They said they didn’t want to be near her disease (their faulty asumption, our friend is healthy). They called her a prostitute (whore) and a drug addict, neither of which is the case. Unfortunately, I was supervising several youth volunteers (youth, by the way, who were with me delivering food and friendly smiles to the homeless) and had to leave, so I don’t know how the night progressed, but I fear the worst.

Here is an example of a not so desirable, but instructive view of the Tamil protesters. Claiming to be speaking out for fairness and a humanitarian cause – they prove to be blind to the needs of people in their own GTA communty…

read more | digg story

Red River Flood Watch – Latest Update May 1 – Flooding south of Winnipeg like a 2,000 sq km lake

Extensive flooding south of Winnipeg:

The last update at the Canada News blog was 10 days ago and conditions for our friends in Manitoba have not improved much. This post is a mirror of the canayjun post…

The flooding south of Winnipeg, although it has dropped today by about a foot, is still extensive and looks more like a 2,000 square kilometer lake than the Red River. Communities to the south are still behind ring dikes with homes stranded behind sandbags or small islands of higher ground. According to WFP many in these stranded south Manitoba communities are laying the blame on the City of Winnipeg Floodway, saying that the flood gates are not low enough and that more of the floodwaters should be admitted into the Floodway diversion to ease water levels to the south. The slowly receding waters will make life difficult for residents, hundreds of whom were evacuated with many still getting around in small boats and other water craft.

photo - CBC

photo -CBC

North of Winnipeg, where several communities declared emergencies due to serious flooding caused by the ice jams, evacuated residents are now returning to survey their flood and ice damaged homes. In the Regional Municipalities of St. Clements and St. Andrews, the Manitoba provincial government has announced it will buy out owners of properties in high-risk areas (like Breezy point) that have suffered flood damage several times in the last few years.

Evacuated members of three flood-affected Manitoba First Nations are receiving flood clean up kits from the Red Cross for their damaged homes. The Peguis, Fisher River and Roseau River First Nations are returning to their homes after several weeks of being evacu­ated.

Even in Winnipeg itself, though flood concerns are low there is still risk of damage as the city’s sewer system is operating at reduced capacity due to higher river levels and runoff. High river levels means a bigger strain on the city sewer system, and heavy rainfall in the forecast the next few days means there’s a greater chance of basement flooding. Winnipeggers can get more information at EmergWeb or by calling 311.

Also from Winnipeg, effective Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 6:00 p.m., the Flood Evacuee Reception Centre in Winnipeg, located at the Century Arena, will be closing. The Reception Centre opened on April 15, 2009, for people requiring emergency support services as a result of having to leave their homes due to flooding. To date, the Reception Centre has assisted 273 families, or a total of 724 individuals. Starting Monday, May 4, 2009, evacuees continuing to require emergency assistance will be able to access these services at the River Heights Health and Social Services Centre, 677 Stafford Street at Pembina Highway (located next to Price Choppers). The office will be open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Project417 volunteers were not asked to head out to Winnipeg to help, the local emergency and disaster crews along with numerous willing volunteers, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross have handled the flood response admirably. What Project417 will do is canvass for individual property owners and homeowners who would benefit from a volunteer team willing to help with re-building, renovation and clean-up for a week or two, perhaps among the First Nations communities. I’ll keep you updated here. Right now we’re on watch for any increase in the flu pandemic level in the GTA. As a matter of fact we’re helping with the National Emergency Preparedness Week (May 3-9) event to be held at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Monday at noon and expect to be serving more than 500 attendees a BBQ lunch from the Salvation Army’s mobile canteens and community response vehicles ( I’ll post some photos Tuesday).

[sources – Winnipeg Free Press , CBC Manitoba , Winnipeg.ca EmergWeb ]

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