Christmas Eve 2009 – Special Events

Christmas Holy Night Star of Bethlehem - Jesus Christ is born

O’ Holy Night

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior— yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

Thank-you to all my readers of the Missonlog blog.  Hope you all have a blessed Christmas and joyous New Year! –

<>< Andy Coats

Follow me  @canayjun on Twitter

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward everyone.



homelessness homeless #whyhomeless


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.


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.

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 , EmergWeb ]

Street Artist depicts Toronto homeless

I was contacted by a family friend last week,  Dan Bergeron. Dan has been commissioned by the ROM – the ROM is holding an exhibition over the next few months to showcase street art that depicts the lives of the street homeless, the struggle for affordable housing and to commemorate Toronto’s Tent City. The project, called Housepaint2, first grew out of a Luminato installation on the site of the former Tent City on Toronto’s port lands down by the harbour. In the summer of 2008, Luminato sponsored the Housepaint installation which consisted of canvas houses on which street artists were invited to portray the homeless and issues connected to the lack of housing.

Tent city was a squat on abandoned property just south of the Gardiner overpass, east of Jarvis, which grew slowly in the 90s until it housed over a hundred homeless people in tents, shacks constructed of scrap and the inevitable cardboard shelters. I first visited Tent City in 1999 during a week of homeless outreach and delivered bottled water to the residents there. In 2002, Home Depot, which owned the vacant land, hired private security guards, evicted almost one hundred homeless squatters and bulldozed the tents and shacks. Many of the former residents ended up back out on the streets of Toronto where project417 staff and volunteers still see them today.

Dan Bergeron is a rising young Toronto photographer and street artist who runs Fauxreel Studios. He’s perhaps best known for guerilla style billboard “interventions” – [another billboard here of Donald Trump] and poster art mounted throughout Toronto. Dan has been commissioned by the ROM as one of the new artists to contribute to the evolving Housepaint exhibition. As the display was moved indoors in the ROM there was a disconnect with the homeless it is to portray, and Dan hopes to bridge that gap through art that focuses on our homeless friends and raises awareness about their place in our community.

Inez - by Dan Bergeron / fauxreel

This might be through similar methods to two of his recent projects – the first was also for Luminato and was based in Regent Park last summer – where large portraits of people living in Regent Park were applied to the sides of buildings slated for demolition. Regent Park is Canada’s largest social housing project – most of it is being torn down and re-developed by the city into mixed use dwellings including market value homes and condos, not just social housing – resulting in a massive relocation of hundreds of low income families. According to Dan, in that way the community has a face. The second recent installations last summer and fall were for the AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario’s youth council  titled Shiftchange – it similarly was lifesized posters throughout Toronto, and then the hoarding walls around the AGO renovations itself.

Shiftchange poster -

Shiftchange poster -

Over the next months,  I’ll be working with Dan through our Project417 outreach programs, like the sandwich runs and community dinners, to connect him to our homeless and under-housed, street involved friends. Hopefully the result will be a series of portraits with the active involvement of the subjects to depict their real-life struggles with homelessness and inadequate housing solutions and a connection to their hopes and future aspirations of careers and life. Dan’s hope and mine is that there is ongoing follow-up with these homeless friends  to contribute to them in a real way. We look forward to the installation at the ROM when it is ready – based on Dan’s past works it is bound to raise community awareness about the homeless and make a real difference.

You can see more about Dan Bergeron’s work and the ROM Housepaint exhibition at  Find out how to volunteer for Project417 or contribute to our homeless outreach programs at

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