Come From Away? Don’t Cut No Ice With Us. Not Your Home, So Begone, Homeless

A plane landing in a thunderstorm
This scene was created by and is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
The unexpected arrival of neighbours in trouble: an opportunity for human kindness and caring, not a time for sour, petulant dogs-in-a-manger.

“Papers, please!”

Wouldn’t it be great if a community could gold-braid and tin hat a cadre of officious, hopefully armed, bureaucrats. They would challenge those hoards of suspicious undesirables that ‘come from away’ — unfamiliar faces for those prone to narrow-eye the population passing in the streets, or worse, sleeping indolently in doorways.

Perhaps such wartime-style guardians of local integrity could be qualified to take immediate action with, say, a bag of stones.

“These papers are not in order! You are not a qualified local. You will have a 5 meter head start, thereafter, I will follow behind with my approved weaponry and not cease from throwing until you are stoned out of town!”

Come from away? Forget the romantic internationalism that spawned a hit musical by that name1. Yes, forget that kind of ‘Come From Away,’ even if it was based on a true story.

Given the current and rapidly worsening homelessness catastrophe occurring pretty much worldwide, communities might wish to look back towards medieval times for appropriate remedies, such as stoning. That increasing need is clearly reflected in angry letters to editors, as well as belligerent oratory by local city councillors and the media determined to assert that all the recently spotted unfamiliar faces lurking about quite simply “do not belong.”

The latest community to come to our attention in a welter of impotent fury? Victoria, the capital of Canada’s Province of British Columbia. Read more in Capital Daily: ‘Tale as old as time’: Debunking pervasive myths about homelessness in Victoria

But, you know, why not just skip all the ‘debunking?’ Disregard whatever truth that underlies ‘unfamiliar face’ claims. Why not just take the arguments as fully and completely ‘bunked.’ (Or in the case of homeless people, they might be perhaps more appropriately described as ‘un-bunked).

After all, name a modern democratic country that restricts the right of citizens to up stakes and move to a their personal vision of more attractive place to live. The European Union even allows such migration between countries. So why should your locally encountered collection of people who are homeless suddenly lose that right?

All right, maybe you think it’s unfair for a single community, such as wealthy Victoria, to be forced do more than its share, thanks to all those officially ‘bunked’ incomers lurking about the streets. If so, complain to the federal government. They’re the ones most capable of sharing out the burden (temporarily and with permanent support dollars) to mitigate homelessness in all Canadian communities.

There will of course be something of a waiting for the day, hopefully soon, when the problem can be eliminated across the entire country, whether featuring familiar faces or not. Take some comfort, agitated Victorians, that as a provincial capital, your well-heeled and nationally influential community can play an important part in an all-out war on behalf of a human right to adequate housing, which is so desperately needed.


  1. The one that chronicled how Gander, Newfoundland briefly doubled its population when it welcomed 38 planeloads of travellers who were forced to land there following the American “9-11” twin-towers disaster in 2001.