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Demonstration brings attention to 'complicated' homelessness issue in North Bay

'We need a place not just to put our heads. We need a place that offers some healing.'

A group comprised of North Bay's homeless and those advocating on their behalf demonstrated outside MP Anthony Rota's office Friday.

The dozen or so people who gathered in a light drizzle on Main Street West said they expected to pick up supporters along the way as they marched from Rota's office to Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli's constituency office, before ending their demonstration at North Bay City Hall.

Among those marching to shed a light on the issues associated with homelessness, addictions, and mental health was Shane Moyer, who recently made waves at City Hall with a tent city protest lasting several days.

See related story: Homeless pitch tents in City Hall's front yard to advocate for change

And: City Hall's homeless tent city ordered dismantled

Moyer read from a letter that was to be delivered to the government representatives as the demonstration group looked on.

"While we all appreciate the work and effort of the levels of government to address the homeless crisis," read Moyer, "we would like to meet with you to discuss how to aid people living with homelessness."

Moyer, who says he has been staying at the low-barrier shelter on Chippewa Street West added, "We need a place not just to put our heads. We need a place that offers some healing, a central healing centre integrated through transitional housing. This is what is needed."

Jeff LeBrun joined the group and is a spokesperson for the local advocacy group Boots on the Ground and acknowledges the City of North Bay has made some steps in the right direction when it comes to homelessness. Several members of Boots on the Ground joined the march.

"It's complicated. I think the City is just now taking it seriously by putting some initiatives in place and putting forth the effort that's required," says LeBrun. 

According to Lebrun, governments "play an absolutely huge" role in helping people in need. "It's our job to bring attention to it and demonstrations like this help appeal," to the government, bring attention to the situation, and show that the community is behind it.

On how advocates expect to get results from government agencies through peaceful demonstration, LeBrun says, "Sometimes they need a clear voice to push them in the right direction."

He adds, "I'm a citizen of North Bay, I see what's going on and obviously there needs to be a change."


Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for BayToday.ca, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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