Bitch Away, YK: Stop Pretending the Homeless are Invisible, Start Paying House-Sitters and Parking Woes

The homeless community is part of our community, a reader writes, while another argues for house-sitter remuneration. And amid the complaining, a compliment gets tossed the City’s way.

Here together

The other day I sat in a local business with my family and enjoyed a coffee. After a few minutes, a woman I often see around the place tried to enter, but was immediately asked by staff to leave, and wandered out into the abyss. Maybe the staff had good reason, but maybe the lady just wanted a coffee or a warm place to sit as it was a cold day.

About 10 more minutes passed and two more ladies came in. They took a seat, and I overheard one of the women asking staff if she could have a cup of hot water, though it seemed she didn’t have any money. The two were asked to leave and the first lady became upset. She saw the people around her able to sit and enjoy their day, and told people to stop laughing at her, and remarked on the cruelty that she couldn’t enjoy a hot drink like the rest of us. Everyone avoided eye contact, no one said a word to the ladies, and they were escorted out.

What’s wrong with this picture? This establishment at least let the second set of women stay long enough to get warm before they were asked to leave. I’ve seen other establishments use overt and blatant racism when determining who has the privilege of being present.

There’s the issue: is it a privilege to be present? When it’s clear a person has nothing, is it okay to strip them of their dignity as well?

I can’t help but think of how everyone avoided eye contact that day. Some probably just wished the women would leave in peace. Some probably thought they should have been turned away immediately, like the first woman. Some probably assumed they were under the influence of alcohol.

Even when the second lady turned to ask people to stop laughing, it was as if she was a ghost. Unseen, ignored and resented for being present. Keep in mind, the woman with her didn’t utter a word the entire time.

This is the problem: do people know what these ladies, and other people like them, have to go through on a daily basis? Do people from elsewhere not realize that if your family came from the North, it could easily be them in their place? Does anyone see the pain of history in their eyes? Does anyone realize they are part of our community? That these people have value? That they seek meaning like the rest of us? They are just like us.

I know what some of you are thinking; they have a drinking problem, and they deserve what they get as a result. They should know better:

You are not their parent. What they should and should not do is not our choice to make for them. Addiction problems don’t come out of nowhere. If you had nothing, no way out, and were told it is your fault and you deserve it, wouldn’t a drink or two, or 20, help with that distress? Everyone has a breaking point.

Can you even fathom what it would be like if society actually resented the fact that you existed? You wake up, with nothing, find a place to warm up, on the way you get several dirty looks. Already that weight to bear is awful. Every day. People wishing you would just stop existing. People resenting that you are there. No one wants to see you. You walk by, and people avoid you. You ask for the time, you are ignored. You walk into a restaurant, you are asked to leave. I feel so much pain for our community.

There is so much history behind these ladies and the other people of the North. There is so much injustice. They are members of our community. They are welcome here. I want them here, and even if I didn’t that shouldn’t matter in the least because they are here. Please people, stop ignoring the fact that our community is hurt. Don’t wait for someone else to make the move or the change because as I write this, as this moment haunts me, and I share these thoughts and feelings, I must confess. I sat on and did nothing, as well. Thoughts and intentions are not good enough. They don’t count. We need action. As you read this, you are a part of the community. As I write this, so am I. Those women are a part of our community, as well. They are welcome here, they belong here, they need our help.

We are different people. We have different views. We have different experiences, different histories. We may be here for different reasons, but we are here together. 

Pay your neighbourhood house-sitter

I understand that because we live in minus double-digit temperatures half of the year, finding a house-sitter is important for people wanting to escape to a warmer climate… or anywhere for that matter.

What I don’t understand is people who seem to have this weird expectation that house-sitting should be done free of charge.

Unless you are asking your BFF to house-sit (and you can do so, because you know what they did last summer), realize that another person is going to have to uproot their routine and typical schedule to look after your obese cat and make sure your pipes don’t freeze.

This definitely warrants a financial reward, which you should make clear at the beginning. Example: “Hey Cindy, I’ll give you $100 bucks to watch my place for a week. Are you interested?” And if you don’t have at least cable or internet, then don’t bother asking anyone. It’s not polite. 

Bill me twice

I noticed on my power bill the other day that Northland Utilities charges me a “Franchise fee” of $5.25. So that is on every person’s bill in the city every month. I looked on the back, and it says the following: this charge is approved by the NWT Public Utilities Board and paid to the City of Yellowknife by Northland Utilities for the right to distribute electricity within the city.

REALLY????

So – in essence – I am paying the fee for the utility to get the rights to supply the city! I am essentially getting taxed again by the municipal government without them having to say that it is a property tax. The mayor should fix this instead of widening the roads for one month of bike riding. I have never seen such nonsense. 

High five, digital City Hall

Not really a bitch, but the new City Hall website is good. Kudos to the webmaster!

Augh! Parking therapy

The City wants everyone to shop downtown. That’s all well and fine, but where do they expect us to park?  You go to check your mail… nowhere to park. Bank… nowhere to park. Any Government office building… you guessed it… And now, there are more office buildings going up! Where do they want us to park? Uuuuugggghhhh!!!! I’m sick and tired of wasting my gas driving around and around and around the block, waiting for someone to leave so I can park. Now I feel a little better, but only till tomorrow, when I check the mail…

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