The stereotypes of homeless men and women as people who live rough and suffer addiction issues are what Laura Sky hopes to change through her Home Safe documentary series.
Sky’s non-profit documentary organization, SkyWorks, has partnered with Toronto Public Libraries for upcoming presentations at various libraries across the city, including the Danforth/Coxwell library.
The presentations will include the three documentaries in the series: Home Safe Calgary, Home Safe Hamilton, and Home Safe Toronto, on Wednesdays: Jan. 16, 23 and 30. They will explore the lives of families living in these three separate locations.
“In Toronto, every family was working,” said Sky, “It just shows how we can live in a society where the system is so crummy and the wages are so low that people can’t afford to live in their homes.”
Home Safe Toronto takes place during the recent recession in 2009, showcasing family members who were laid off in the decline of manufacturing, said Sky.
She directed Home Safe Toronto with David Adkin, and worked with Cathy Crowe, executive producer of Home Safe Calgary and Home Safe Toronto.
Crowe hopes to share her 40-year relationship with the homeless as a street nurse. She hopes people will change their minds on how they perceive people who can’t afford a home. She will be presenting discussions at the library sessions alongside Sky.
Crowe partnered with Sky because she felt that nothing had been done well to showcase Canada’s national housing problems from a multimedia perspective.
The first film made in 2008, Home Safe Calgary, covers families who are shipped from church basement to church basement while there is no proper family shelter.
“Calgary has a scarcity of affordable housing,” said Sky,” They could be making $15-20 an hour and be unable to find a home.”
Home Safe Hamilton covers displaced immigrants and Aboriginals from Six Nations in 2010. “The city is the largest centre of newcomers who are housing vulnerable or homeless,” said Sky.
Along with the presentation of the films, Crowe and Sky have a community discussion planned at the library.
Participants will get updates on the families in the films, and learn how to work towards solutions to these problems that go beyond volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens.
One of the updates that they’ve shared is that a family shelter has been opened up in Calgary due to the issues that Home Safe Calgary addressed.
Skyworks encourages students to attend the event, and presents lesson plans that they will be able to use on their website skyworksfoundation.org.
The lesson plans offer packages on the importance of food, economics on living conditions in shelters and how to plan solutions, and relationships where students learn about changing perceptions and stereotypes.
“It’s a great film to see if you’re doing any kind of project on poverty and social justice,” said Crowe, who says that the films are divided into chapters that cover various topics and people.
She discusses a scene in one of the films where teens and preteens from an alternative school get together to talk about how kids are affected by living in a shelter.
“They think it’s their fault. How they’re not helping,” said Crowe.
For more information on the documentary series, visit www.torontopubliclibrary.ca and/or www.skyworksfoundation.org