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Homeless solutions discussed in downtown protest

A protest took place Friday afternoon to bring attention to the plight of the homeless on the streets of downtown Prince George.

About 100 people came together Friday afternoon at the empty lot across from the courthouse on George Street to protest how the homeless in Prince George are treated.

Cathy Hutchison, a local registered nurse, put out the call through the Facebook group Together We Stand for a show of solidarity to put pressure on the city to come up with a solution quickly.

She said she doesn’t want the city to wait for the low income housing to be put in place in the years to come. She wants action now.

“We need a place for our downtown friends to lay their heads,” Hutchison said. “Is that too much to ask?”

“No!” the crowd answered.

“We want to acknowledge to the city and the mayor that we are a community - and people care,” Hutchison said.

The protest opened with some drumming led by Wesley Mitchell in the song that honours his ancestors called Honouring the Day.

Several people representing different organizations like Carrier Sekani Family Services spoke during the protest while other concerned citizens voiced their opinions like John Greco, who thought putting in a fully equipped tent city on the back lot on Lower Patricia Boulevard, behind the Citizen office, would be ideal. By the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd, many were in agreement.

There were two homeless women who talked about what they would like to see happen to improve their lives.

April talked about wishing there was a tent city that offered facilities like bathrooms, showers and had electricity and suggested the end of Fifth Avenue as a location while Jessie was looking for easier access to medical care and more support to get on the road to access affordable housing for her and her two sons.

Colleen Tuson-Tyacke was one of the people joining the protest. She runs a therapeutic home for children.

“A lot of the children end up in our resources because they are traumatized by the experience of their parents and I know that some of them who we haven’t been able to help through everything have ended up on the street,” Tuson-Tyacke said. “So there’s a personal relationship and there’s also just caring for people and just having compassion. I have no problem with the city telling them to get out but there’s no plan. The city is creating the chaos and it’s just sad. They are my fellow citizens. They deserve the same considerations I do.”

Throughout the protest, Tuson-Tyacke often got emotional.

“I get emotional because I don’t understand what’s happened to other people where their hearts have become so hardened they can’t feel compassion for these people,” she said.