In memoriam of Raphael “Napa” Andre, Kitty Kakkinerk, and Dinah Matte. May they rest in power.
An Innu man by the name of Raphael Napa Andre, found dead in a port-a-potty meters away from The Open Door, is the third death in relation to shelter, day center, or soup kitchen covid-related shutdowns.
Putting in place a police state, enforcing restrictions on social or community services, and creating an atmosphere of fear has a direct effect on the houseless.
Even more so for the BIPOC in the streets.
In summer 2020 two, houseless, Inuit women lost their lives. Who, just like Napa, would still be here today if their shelters or day centers of choice were allowed to run on regular hours.
Kitty Kakkinerk and Dinah Matte account for more victims of the government putting the economy before humanity. Keeping schools and manufacturing or commercial sectors open, but slowly shutting the doors to life saving services.
How is it that important therapies are canceled, but Walmart is allowed to remain open? How is that the houseless communities face 1000-6000$ tickets for being out after 8PM, but planes are still taking off to vacation destinations?
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic should not be rendering community care inaccessible and, in some cases, illegal.
For the privileged an 8pm curfew is nothing more than an inconvenience: coming home, making supper, walking their dogs, then watching Netflix. Perhaps going out to smoke on their balconies, listening to the silence of our newly confined world.
For Napa, Kitty, and Dinah the curfew or other unjust COVID restrictions were a death sentence.
To many others It’s an imprisonment in abusive homes, severe loss of income, or a denial of humanity and basic needs.
There is no scientific data stating that a curfew helps reduce COVID 19 transmission. There are, however, numerous statics or expert opinions and community organizations sounding the alarm about the rapidly raising overdose rates, shelters running at maximum capacity having to turn people away, and a higher volume of calls to domestic abuse or suicide hotlines are all.
Over 1100 people in Sherbrooke are currently awaiting necessary surgeries that were postponed or cancelled to make room for Covid patients. A stark reminder of how underfunded and overcrowded our healthcare system is; the results of decades of bureaucratic carelessness and corruption.
We can no longer survive in a system that puts profits first. Capitalism is a driving force behind the pandemic.
It is more important than ever to talk about the struggles of marginalized communities: houseless people, sex workers, those living with mental health or substance abuse issues, those living in poverty, victims of abuse, and Indigenous or Immigrant communities. While Legault speaks of rainbows and #CaVaBienAller hashtags, the threat of joblessness or eviction is creeping up on large swaths of the working class with no end in sight.
The situation can feel hopeless and out of our control. It is up to us, the people, to stand together in an effort to protect the vulnerable members of our communities. To speak for those ignored the most by the ruling class.
The scarecrows and banners that were seen in Sherbrooke are a collective, peaceful, action that anyone can participate in. Use recycled materials that could be helpful to the houseless (clothes, cardboard or paper, mittens/gloves/toques, toilet paper, empty cans) and let your creativity flow!
However peaceful or covid safe these installations are, they have been met with police repression. Telling activists to take them down because they break publicity laws during one of the first installations. During a second installation activists were met with (3) 162$ tickets and being physically restrained by officers who were out of uniform. The police refuse to hold positive or open discussion on the matter.
- “Why do you care if you aren’t even homeless?”
- “Stop painting us all as the bad guys with your negativity”
- “Go protest in Montreal if it bothers you so much”
- “Why do you care if you haven’t even gotten a 2000$ ticket yet?”
- “You need a permit to protest”
- “Your mannequins are ugly and pointless”
- “It’s not a message, it’s garbage”
The more of us that participate in actions across Québec, the less they can ignore us.
There is no police solution to a health crisis: may we be pro-mask, pro-science, but most importantly, pro-protecting the vulnerable.
Justice for Kitty, Dinah, and Napa
Amnesty for the houseless and marginalized.
– COLLECTIF AIDE RADICALE DE L’ESTRIE