By Prapti Bamaniya
The Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson has partnered with the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) to donate to Bond Place Hotel, which is one of the City of Toronto’s physical distancing emergency shelters.
In the fall and winter semesters, the Chang School is expected to donate $250 to support a care package initiative that CESAR has created for the transition periods between seasons, according to Marilou Cruz, the manager of Marketing and Communications for the Chang School.
The packages consist of clothing, health and hygiene supplies, along with other essential items.
On social media, CESAR shared a photo of items they have already donated.
In early October, CESAR hosted an event called Structural Inequality: Housing, with guest speakers Cathy Crowe and Brianna Olson Pitawanakwat. The panel discussed what it means to go to a campus in downtown Toronto, a space shared by many people experiencing homelessness.
“At the end of the discussion I was very moved, and I wanted to make a personal contribution towards people experiencing homelessness,” said Carol Sutherland, the vice-president of services and finance at CESAR.
After mentioning Sutherland’s personal desire to donate to the Bond Place Hotel, the student group decided to create a joint donation with the Chang School.
“We as a students’ union and as a university have a duty to help and to show we care about homelessness and other social issues that affect us all,“ said Sutherland.
According to Corey Scott, an executive director of CESAR, a $750 donation was also made to Call Auntie, which is an Indigenous COVID-19 pathways hotline that connects Toronto’s Indigenous peoples with culturally safe health information.
On Aug. 21, the Bond Place Hotel was opened as a shelter program for people experiencing homelessness to support physical distancing as part of Toronto’s COVID-19 response, the Eyeopener previously reported. It is currently looking for donations of hygiene products and warm winter clothes for the colder months.
“We were grateful when Carol Sutherland reached out with the clothing donation last week. Acts like this really speak to the inclusivity of the Yonge-Dundas community, which we are excited to be part of,” said Melanie Smith, supervisor for community and client engagement at the Bond Place Hotel shelter.
In an email statement to the Eye, Dean of the Chang School Gary Hepburn said he is happy to collaborate with CESAR for their initiative.
“These packages are an important way to support the well-being of community members who find themselves homeless or displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hepburn wrote.
Crowe, a street nurse and distinguished visiting practitioner at Ryerson, said in an email to The Eye that students could also help support the Toronto-based Encampment Support Network.
The Encampment Support Network is an organization that provides supplies and compassion to people experiencing homelessness. In its newsletter, it said the changing seasons can be tough on the homeless population, and that there is a greater demand for supplies needed to keep one warm.
The Encampment Support Network is currently looking for donations of boots and heavy-duty sleeping bags in preparation for winter.
Bond Place Hotel is expected to continue the shelter program until fall 2020 and will likely extend it to spring 2021 due to COVID-19.