We all have a story.
That's the message behind a new series of videos which addresses the stigmas around homelessness.
Cardboard Stories is the final product of funding given to the Canadian Mental Health Association Central Alberta in 2013 by the RBC Foundation.
Produced by rdnewsNOW, the five short videos present local homeless individuals who share facts about themselves which prove homelessness can happen to anyone. They premiered during a special event Wednesday afternoon at The Hub on Ross.
"I had noticed staff were collecting obituaries of clients that had passed away in memory of them and honouring their lives," explains Ian MacLeod, Systems Navigator with CMHA. "My thought was to find a way to honour them while they're still with us rather than in death. The idea grew into challenging stigmatization and providing an opportunity for the viewer to understand that behind every person, there's a story."
Christine Stewart, CMHA Executive Director, says it's really easy to point the finger.
"Not too many of us have been faced with a job loss and lack of resources so significant that we lost our housing, but those are the stories that we saw today. There are people with full-time jobs that still can't afford housing," she says. "It's just a reminder that homelessness is caused by something and it's not always addiction -- and addiction is caused by something and it's very easy to get into that trap."
CMHA Central Alberta is one of several local entities working to end homelessness and stop people from falling through the gaps -- the organization's HomeLinks program is well-utilised.
"We have got a strong community of team members here that want to work together," Stewart continues. "We want to provide services for the people that we know in our communtiy. Ending homelessness? That's a difficult concept for sure, but I think that we are taking the right steps to get there. It takes a village."
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