January 2, 2018
On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve I stand, in shock, looking at the scene before me in one of Toronto’s 24-hour overflow warming centres. A young woman huddles under a blanket on a mat on the floor, inches away from dozens of other people.
It is freezing in here. She closes her eyes, trying to shut out the noise, the cold, and the horror of having to be here. A man tries to make his way through the mats, (there are no aisles between them). He stumbles and kicks her as he passes. It looks as though he may fall upon the other people, huddled where his feet are trying to walk.
It is crowded, and tonight it will be more so. There are only two bathrooms stalls, without a door to separate the space from the rest of the centre. Tension is running high. It feels unsafe.