2014 Christmas Appeal Numerical Reveal


That’s how much you have helped us raise with our Christmas Appeal for 2014. Thank you to all the individuals, businesses, and community groups that gave so generously. We saw significant increases in usage for all of our services this year, so this is great news for us.

Thanks again Regina,

The Carmichael Outreach Team

George Palmer – Notice of Passing

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of George Palmer, the original Executive Director and founder of Carmichael Outreach Inc.

George was one of Regina’s best, and a man who embodied the values of the organization that he spent 20 years of time and effort on. George was a champion for individuals and families facing the challenges of extreme poverty and worked tirelessly and to his limit to meet the needs of the community to the best of his ability. George was generous and faithful, persevering through the difficult early years of a fledgling organization, often working without pay to ensure that the members of his own community would be able to access vital services each day.

In June 2013, when we celebrated our 25th anniversary, we were able to see George at Carmichael Outreach one more time. He remained the same man we remember fondly today – generous and faithful, never ignoring the challenges and inequalities faced by the members of his own community living in extreme poverty. It was a bright, sunny day as George spoke with fondness of his many memories of Carmichael Outreach, and is fitting that today we remember him as a man who spent his life bringing some light to dark and hidden injustices in our own community. It is fitting that as he spoke that day of a lifetime of memories about Carmichael Outreach that Carmichael Outreach owes George a lifetime of gratitude for his efforts, and for sharing who he was with us.

George is a man we will not soon forget. His fingerprints are all over what Carmichael Outreach has become today, so we say thank you to George and celebrate his life.

Our deepest sympathies are extended to Dorothy, to his daughters and his son, and to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Thank you for sharing your husband, father, grandpa, and great grandpa with us. It was our privilege to know him, and we will remember him by carrying on the work he started.

Together in Community, Together as Community,

The Carmichael Outreach Team

Our New Year’s Resolution

It’s New Years Day, 2015, and as we reflect on the past year and look forward, there are many thoughts going through our brains at Carmichael Outreach.

This year, it felt like we had a long conversation about poverty, it’s effects, and the experiences of the individuals and families who find themselves at Carmichael Outreach. Each day, our community members come to access food, or clothing, or help maintaining housing because they are unable to overcome the challenges and barriers they face for a variety of different reasons. On one hand, it was exciting that there seemed to be discussion about these outcomes when things had been ignored for far too long. On the other hand, we found ourselves answering questions about what homeless people needed during cold months, whether we found it easy to get donations, and quickly realized the discussion was focused on ways to make sure people were comfortable in their poverty, rather than to give them the resources they needed to overcome the challenges they face.

For 26 years, we have functioned to provide basic necessities to folks who may not have access to them otherwise. It’s not a role that we celebrate, but rather, is one we wish didn’t exist. What we realized this year is that for too long we’ve become another holding space for the folks who are the manifestation of conversations we try to avoid. Too often, we’ve had individuals show up, seemingly discarded from other areas of our community to Carmichael Outreach with the expectation that we will make the inconvenience of their situations disappear for a portion of each day. Many of our city’s extreme poor live in a 3 block radius, bouncing between emergency services, addictions and mental health supports, shelter, and us.

From 9:00-4:30 our community members step into our building, where we try to create a safe, welcoming environment that upholds the highest virtues of community – trust, acceptance, value, empathy, and love. It is in these spaces that we find our greatest fulfillment. It was earlier this year in one of these moments that one of our new friends said, “For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m part of a community.” It was a powerful statement, and it was clear that the sense of belonging and relationship had the ability to bring about major change.

As we look forward, it seems that making New Year’s Resolutions is the traditional thing to do, and make no mistake – as we head into this year at Carmichael Outreach, we are more resolved than we have ever been before.

– We have resolved that we will no longer allow ourselves to only be a space where people sit, still separated from their community.

– We are resolved to ensure that the conversation about extreme poverty shifts from how individuals and families survive brutal prairie winters to how we as a community can end poverty and homelessness.

– We are resolved to see barriers that stop individuals and families from being able to access the resources they need eliminated.

– We resolve to advocate tirelessly for strategic investment of our currently available resources in programs and services that recognize the dignity of the individuals and families using them, and for systems that stop oppressing individuals and families who already face many other challenges.

– Finally, we are resolved to welcome every member of our community into Carmichael Outreach so that we are no longer simply together in a geographical space known as a community, but that each individual and family in our city can truly say that we are together with one another as a community.

We have so many partners and friends who have already joined us on this journey, whether as volunteers, contributors, or regular day-to-day members, and we are truly grateful for the privilege to share life with each one.

It’s our resolution and our invitation. Come join us.

As a community, we can and must do better. As a community, we can end poverty.

This year let’s be,

Together in Community, Together as Community,

The Carmichael Outreach Team

Dear Mouse

** This blog post contains the thoughts of our outgoing Food Recovery Coordinator Nic Olson’s personal blog and is used with his permission **

Dear Mouse,

Dear Mouse, You probably don’t remember me, and I don’t blame you. We likely never had a full conversation, except that time on Christmas Day that I picked you and Leon up at the bus stop and drove you to turkey dinner at the Marian Centre. But even then I didn’t know what you said when I asked you your name. I thought you said Leonard. Although I didn’t know you as well as I would’ve liked, I can say that I think of you often. I hung your name on my bedroom wall.

I can also say, however, that there was a time that I forgot you. I forgot your name and your face and how you talked. I forgot how you died and I forgot what reserve you were from. I forgot who your family was. I forgot your real name. Linden. All I remembered was this faint vision of a man I knew that had died last winter, and that was about it. When your name, ‘Mouse’ finally surfaced in my brain I wrote it on a sticky note and have kept it since. A pathetic monument, to be sure, but better than the alternative of me permanently forgetting.

That is what was supposed to happen. You were to die and your case file was to close and the $459 that the ministry gave you would be swallowed back into general funds and used to finance interest free/tax free rental developments and that was that. Your home at Detox would fill your bed in a matter of hours and after a week they’d neglect to mention your name ever again. All levels of government would continue to stage press conferences with scummy developers to show their commitment to you, although they deny your existence outright, even aloud to the media. Community organizations would trod along in their busy, busted down buildings and wait for the next death to sombre things up. You’d be forgotten by the world except by the family who would feed you while you’re on the other side.

There are campaigns for your sisters and aunts and grandmothers and daughters who have gone missing or were murdered, and the spirit of these rallies and vigils also reaches to you. Because although you’re a male, and although we know where and how you died, you’ve been brushed aside and purposely forgotten by a brutal system of murder and assimilation.

We’re all eventually forgotten, Mouse, that much is certain. In 100 years no one will know my name or remember that I can’t make a decision to save my goddamn life. But I’ll be forgotten simply because time has passed. They won’t remember you and how you said, ‘Softly,’ with a grin when you put out your closed hand for a fist pump. But you’d be forgotten because multi-million dollar government policy was designed for your culture to be destroyed and your life to be ripped apart. What I can try to do, in some way, even as simple and degrading as a sticky note on my bedroom wall, is to ensure that in 100 years, you’ll still have family on this earth that will at least have the chance to remember you and their other ancestors.

The government’s denial of your existence isn’t a slip of the tongue, it is long-standing, ingrained belief. Because to acknowledge your existence is to acknowledge that you deserve to be remembered. I won’t forget you and I’ll do my best make sure no one else does either. Because once we forget you, the system is winning and the people are losing. Eventually, the people always win. And we’ll win remembering your life. It was a pleasure, my friend.


Nic from Carmichael

Statement on the collapse of the Hawkstone Affordable Housing Development

Today, I set a precedent. I attended a press conference to celebrate affordable housing in Regina outraged, rather than excited. The provincial and federal governments, along with Deveraux Developments, all trumpeted the completion of 30 affordable housing units in a 160 unit building. This development should be celebrated. Mixed income housing in desirable neighbourhoods is key to sustainable, affordable housing development and prevents ghettoization of the poor, but this announcement stunk.

Is it coincidence that this event featured the same two parties who walked away from an affordable housing development in Hawkstone eliminating 48 new affordable housing units from the market? Is it coincidence that we celebrated a separate 30 affordable spaces one day after questions about the loss of those 48 units, which were funded by selling 40 other Saskatchewan Housing properties? The direct result is that we now wait 3 more years for these 48 spaces while wondering what the effects of a 40 unit reduction in affordable stock will be.

The reality of Regina’s rental market is evident. One tenant informs me of break-ins at “secure” unit, another that they haven’t had water for 3 months, and another that their basement is still full of mould, mud, and water from June’s flooding. This, is private market, affordable housing. Wait times, despite Minister Harpauer’s claims, are not shrinking for those seeking quality, affordable housing. This past year, the third full year of the Carmichael Outreach Housing Support Program, our two Coordinators performed 342 intakes, meaning we worked with 342 individuals or families struggling to find housing. Of those 342, 27 were helped on multiple occasions to find housing for a variety of reasons listed above; as our list of those in need grows, so do the number of properties unwilling to rent to individuals/families receiving government assistance.

Affordable, private market housing is synonymous with unsafe, low quality housing. There are exceptions to the rule, but they are rare. So, members of our community wait for affordable housing providers to ensure they have a safe and healthy home. The Hawkstone project, according to Deveraux’s COO, gave a government option to choose between basements and crawl spaces. Basements were chosen and costs increased $400,000. Rather than share the $400,000 cost, or require Deveraux to honour their proposal for these 40 spaces, the Government of Saskatchewan delayed these units by another 3 years and reduced available stock by 40 spaces simultaneously; a difficult accomplishment to be sure, but one that should be recognized. Amazingly, the Government of Saskatchewan declares wait times have shrunk 50% while affordable housing partners tell us that individuals are waiting an average of 3 years for affordable housing, and up to 6 years in some cases.

Let’s suggest that these 48 units were used to house the individuals I help each day. These individuals, despite Minister Harpauer’s claim are largely homeless, and largely desperate, and most know our community members who froze to death last winter due to their homelessness. Rather than investing $200,000 for 10 years of affordable housing, this government subsidizes emergency shelter at a cost of $2000 per month, which for 48 individuals is roughly $200,000 over two months. There is no more clear indication of a lack of strategy and comprehensive planning to provide housing to those in need than to subsidize two months of emergency funding, and not 10 years of affordable housing.

Minister Harpauer is right, the Government of Saskatchewan’s decision would have been precedent setting, but the only precedent it would have set was this government caring about the people of this province over money.

Tyler Gray

Housing Support Coordinator

Carmichael Outreach

Why we participate in 5 Days for the Homeless

Written by: Tyler – HIV Strategy Housing Support Coordinator at Carmichael Outreach

As a recent graduate of the University of Regina, I recall all of the discussions that would come up around the time 5 Days 4 the Homeless each year. Generally, narratives began with, they’re just playing homelessness, or they’re just sensationalizing homelessness. These narratives then followed with critiques of where the dollars went, asking questions like, why not just give the $25,000 to homeless individuals?, and why give money to organizations that don’t provide service with respect for individual’s dignity? Each of these questions or possible critiques is absolutely worth consideration, and yet, having now worked in human services outside of the sterilized environment of a university classroom, I have a few thoughts to share that may answer some of these concerns.

First, 5 Days 4 the Homeless only sensationalizes, or plays homelessness if the greater dialogue about homelessness and the social issue of poverty do not become a part of the discussion during the 5D4H event. As the participant organization, our comments and interviews during this time focus on the inability of a 5 day event to replicate homelessness, and the need to continue these conversations in the media, classrooms, and board rooms year-round. Each participant this year had several conversations with members of the Carmichael Outreach team, conversations about homelessness and our experience as staff. They even met some of our clients, who were able to share lived experience and educate them about what homelessness really looks like. None of this was done to make it a viable event, but because the participants actually cared about understanding homelessness in its context. It becomes paramount then, to push for coverage that doesn’t merely celebrate the nobility of participants, but instead highlights the social immorality of enabling homelessness and poverty to perpetuate in a social construct of moral and ethical choice instead of trauma, opportunity and humanization. This is a constant struggle of any discussion around poverty and community engagement of the privileged, and one not limited to 5 Days for the Homeless. This is also the desire of the organizers as documented in the University of Regina newspaper. Intention isn’t everything, but it’s clear the breakdown is not in the creation of this event.

A second critique that I heard last week was that organizations restrict service provision and don’t respect the inherent dignity of clients. I can confidently say that this is not descriptive of Carmichael Outreach. We provide services within a harm reduction framework; a framework centred in the inherent worth of a human being their humanity, not their ability to socially and economically commoditize their life for some type of profit. In fact, all of our services are provided free of charge, and outside of a milk program and food bank orders, require no identification to participate. It is safe to say that service provision is not restrictive, and is in fact focused on meeting the needs of individuals without pre-condition or expectation of “personal improvement”. Any critique of our organization as restrictive, or lacking respect, is spoken by someone who has never entered our doors or participated in what we do. That is not to say that we are perfect, because we most certainly are not, but we are in regular interaction with our clients, discussing how our service delivery can improve in meeting their needs and respecting them as individuals. We work with them, support them, do whatever we can for them when they communicate what they need, and on top of our service delivery, we are advocating for the very social change that critics say gets missed by 5D4H.

Lastly, I feel the need to highlight one specific critique that I read last week during this year’s week-long event. It questioned why the $25,000 dollars raised didn’t just go directly to homeless individuals. A valid question, but it is again reflective of critical thought being employed without context, understanding of welfare policy and systems, or even the circumstances that surround an individual experiencing homelessness. Homelessness, largely, is connected to past trauma, the breakdown of support in an individual’s life, and an economically disadvantaged position among other circumstances and barriers. Many homeless individuals are experiencing stigma and discrimination because of their position, and are using coping mechanisms that do not enable them to move to the position that they want to. These are very real concerns that should force open the doors to greater conversations about addiction and mental illness as health issues instead of as career choices that are easily taken up and easily put down. Should we homeless individuals receiving assistance with $25,000, they will immediately be cut off of assistance (depending on how much money they are provided).

This generates new/greater costs, including:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Food

These hypothetical costs are limited and assume that they are able to access the food bank for some of their food costs, have furniture available to them through a furniture donation program, are able to find housing, don’t have any medical issues, and that they access quality housing that does not force them into sub-standard living. Housing costs roughly $850 per month for a 1 bedroom apartment, meaning to get an apartment and be in it for one month is an up-front cost of $1,700 with an ongoing cost of $850 per month. Transportation (buss pass) costs $62 monthly, and I can safely say as a home owner that utility costs, generally power and telecommunications are not covered in rental, would be between $100-$175 for basic telephone service and water. Food costs, having seen the little amount of food that the food bank tries to stretch between all of its clients are based on someone’s inability to access food programming due to insufficient transportation and the requirement of working a low-wage labour position now that they do not have access to assistance. That cost can be assumed, on the absolute, bare, subsistence level to be about $50 extra per week on top of food bank food. So our monthly costs are up to about $1,100 dollars per month, with no additional costs or emergency expenditures. What this means is that we would help a maximum of 25 individuals for one month and then effectively harm them because $25,000 does not solve homelessness. Even if the money was distributed amongst many in need, we would effectively be throwing a cup of water on a forest fire.

On top of the financial issues stated above, this post does not, nor can it even begin to address how addiction and mental illness may wreak havoc with an idealized “working poor” plan. Sub-note: A valid conversation would discuss why assistance forces those in need into even greater poverty to get service, pays nearly $2100 per month for an individual to live in shelter, but pays $459 in rental allowance to the same person seeking private housing. Or perhaps, a discussion around food security and the rising cost of living that drives an individual to have to use the food bank would be beneficial. These systemic critiques and questions are valid and must be addressed as a society.

What is missed in the critique of these events is this: Criticism is laid at the feet of those who participated by those who did not and who criticize the campaign from a distance without clarified knowledge of its goals, effects, contributors, and benefactors. If engagement is limited to critique of other’s engagement, how is that any more beneficial to pushing for the social change we all recognize needs to happen?

Yes, we must push for social change. Yes, poverty is perpetuated by a breakdown in community. Yes, social assistance imprisons individuals rather than supporting them. Yes, those fighting addiction mental illness are often treated as lacking moral capability to meet the social constructs of citizenry and the rights it entails.

These issues are major, systemic issues rooted in racism, stereotyping, economic discrimination, and pre-conceived notions of the “proper” community member. As an organization, we experience and fight against these constructs daily. We demand dignity for community members and figuratively (and sometimes literally) fight for their lives. This is both in immediate action, and our struggle for long-term, positive social change. Our participation in 5D4H does not contradict these goals, but in fact delivers $25,000 into our hands to help move these goals and services forward. We do not function as a paternal entity, but a lifeline to clients who are looking for the support and empowerment they need to make the changes they desire.

We owe it to homeless, marginalized, oppressed individuals to demand change in how events like these are covered, the conversations that surround these events, and the social constructs that lead to the creation of charity and all its’ hypocrisies and contradictions. However, this isn’t the fault of five students, an organizing committee, or Carmichael Outreach and other Carmichael-like agencies fighting for their lives. We enter into this event with our eyes wide open to the struggles our community faces, and we fight for them.

It is my opinion that we live in a world where media coverage is dictated by the interest a citizen has in a particular story. Short stories that are unable to provide proper context dominate the framework in which we receive our news, along with advertisement revenue. Conversations with volunteers, organizers, department heads highlight that 5 Days for the Homelessness is not and never has been an attempt to replicate homelessness. It’s an opportunity to push for more awareness about the incredibly problematic social narratives that enable and perpetuate homelessness while raising vital funds for us to help sustain individuals’ survival and empower them to make the changes they desire. I’m able to view this critically and recognize problems that should be addressed regarding this yearly event, and I aim not to further harm those who have already faced so much oppression.

I invite critics into participation in this event and constructive input for the purpose of eliminating both oppression and opportunities for sensationalized representation. It is only when we build community together with respect and understanding of our common humanity that we will overcome issues far greater than a 5 days fundraising event.


Eli Reynolds Brings the Socks

Eli Reynolds came by Carmichael today to donate over 300 pairs of socks. He is 7 years old.

Eli is from Balgonie, Saskatchewan. He wanted to do something for kids his age who were less fortunate than he is. He made speeches at different organizations such as the Fifty Plus Club, the Kinsmen, different churches, and made announcements on the intercom at his school and other schools requesting that people donate socks to those who might need them this winter.

Huge thanks to Eli and the Reynolds family for coordinating such a great activity that will help keep thousands of toes warm this winter! It is so encouraging to see young people involved in fostering a sense of community!


A Human Plea

It’s -40 with a windchill. Not uncommon to see vehicles running for 20 minutes while their owners wait for them to warm up. Bundled faces hide behind toques and hoods, big mitts and parkas.

But what if you live in abject poverty?

What if -40 doesn’t mean you pull your winter parka, toque, and mitts off the shelves?

What if it means you just become more and more cold?

This is the reality for our clients. Today, we provided sleeping bags to clients who are still struggling to survive, sleeping outside. We saw blue hands, cracked hands, frozen faces, and chattering teeth. It’s not right, but it is reality.

We are desperate for winter outerwear. Anything and everything. Please bring us parkas, toques, gloves, long underwear, and sweaters. We will give it to people in need. To our community members struggling to survive, fighting against death by freezing. This is our reality.

We are open Monday-Friday from 9:00-4:30, and we will take any winter outerwear donations. Please bring them by our building at 1925 Osler St and let us clothe the needy.

Thank you,

The Carmichael Outreach team

2013 Carmichael Outreach AGM Board Elections

Last night, at Carmichael Outreach’s AGM, we saw the departure of some long-serving board members and some new members elected. First, we would like to thank Board Chair, Jeff Grub, for nearly 5 years of service to Carmichael Outreach. Jeff has provided a steady hand, while empowering staff and volunteers. Jeff has decided to move on to other opportunities. We are sad to see Jeff leave and wish to say recognize and honor his efforts.

Also resigning from our Board of Directors is John Tzupa. John, much like Jeff, has dedicated a tremendous amount of time to Carmichael Outreach. John was always available to provide a helping hand to ensure that the centre ran smoothly and effectively. We have appreciated John’s availability and efforts for Carmichael.

Finally, we also wish to say thank you to out-going Board member Billie Patterson. Bille often brought a fresh, unique perspective and his perspective was valued and important to Carmichael Outreach’s mission to be an open door and helping hand.

Thank you Jeff, John, and Billie. We have appreciated your service and wish you all the best in the future.


The new Board of Directors for Carmichael Outreach, after last night’s elections, is:

Terms Expiring at 2014 AGM

Mike Staines

Alexis Losie

Ryan Bourlan

Kathleen Wilson (elected to one year term at 2013 AGM)

Terms Expiring at 2015 AGM

Jacqueline Hatherly

Adam Levine

Riva Farrell-Racette

Terms Expiring at 2016 AGM

Kevin Miller (elected at 2013 AGM)

Michael Brown (elected at 2013 AGM)

Dan Lindsay (elected at 2013 AGM)

Congratulations to Dan Lindsay, Michael Brown, Kevin Miller, and Kathleen Wilson on being elected to the Carmichael Outreach Board of Directors!

Public Thank-You to the family and Estate of Marlus Kulas

We would like to publicly thank Marlus Kulas and the Nagy family for their sizeable donation to our organization. Marlus and the Nagy family have been supporters of Carmichael Outreach for many years, and we are truly grateful for such an incredible donation. We couldn’t function as an organization without the thought and care of volunteers and donors in our great community.

Above is a photo of Cora Sellers, our Executive Director, accepting a check from the estate of Marlus Kulas.