Rural reporting award
I am pleased to share that an article of mine on rural homelessness was recognized in the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.
The story, titled “No shelter from the cold,” which I wrote while at the Athabasca Advocate, was given second place in the excellence in rural reporting category, open to all circulations.
You can read the full story here.
It gives me joy to see this article reach a potentially broader audience, because as I discovered through researching the subject, it is such a prevalent issue that has very little exposure.
Typical images that come to mind when thinking about homelessness include the beggar on the city street, or the huddled figure trying to catch a wink of sleep on a park bench. We don’t really think about the small town lesbian teen couchsurfing after being kicked out by their family, or the man who lost his job who is tenting somewhere in the county.
Because this is a little focused on subject, there is still so much unknown in regards to statistics on rural homeless. I stumbled across this many times in my research, when nobody was able to provide me with accurate statistics of homelessness in the area. All sources could tell me is homelessness exists, and is a pertinent issue to all small communities in Alberta. One place to begin in addressing rural homelessness – so decision-makers have data to make informed decisions on funding – is collecting reliable data. If you live in a rural area, and want to get involved, you can do a point in time homelessness count, which the Alberta Rural Development Network has a special guide for conducting. You can find it here.
A special thanks to the ARDN for being an invaluable resource, to the Lakeland Out of the Elements Shelter in Lac La Biche for opening its doors to my camera and I, and Advocate publisher Allendria Brunjes for doing what she does.
And most importantly, thanks to my dear mom Kathy, who inspired so many with her deep compassion.