British Columbia

Marpole students raise voices in support of neighbourhood modular housing project

A group of students in Marpole is voicing their support for the recently announced modular housing project in their neighbourhood.

'These aren’t people to be afraid of,' says Churchill student Ishmam Bhuiyan

The group of 20 students at Churchill Secondary school formed the group in response to a Facebook page made against the housing project. They're currently working to educate the community and dismiss the fear surrounding welcoming a more marginalised population into the community. (Marpole Students for Modular Housing/Facebook)

A group of students in Marpole is voicing their support for the recently announced modular housing project in their Vancouver neighbourhood.

It was just two weeks ago that The City of Vancouver announced modular housing units for the homeless will be built on a plot of land at the northeast corner of West 59th Avenue and Heather Street.

The modular homes will be built near two schools in the area, Sir Wilfred Laurier Elementary and Winston Churchill Secondary.

Ishmam Bhuiyan formed Marpole Students for Modular Housing with his Churchill classmates after hearing about opposition to the temporary housing units.

The group of students felt that the reasoning behind the opposition — parents saying "we need to protect the children" — was an invalid excuse to hide hateful attitudes against people in need.

"These aren't people to be afraid of," Bhuiyan told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"We need to educate people, students at Laurier and Churchill, and build positive attitudes because these aren't people to marginalize, they're people to integrate and welcome into our community."

Future problem-solvers

The group of 20 students began in response to a Facebook page against the housing project, which prompted a protest near the proposed building location.

"It was parents that were perpetuating fear and a NIMBYism attitude that we didn't agree with. We want these people in our communities," said Bhuiyan.

He encourages students to voice their opinions at their weekly meetings to create a dialogue and educate more minds on the realities of bringing a marginalized group into the community.

"Many of my friends aren't aware of the gravity of the situation on the Downtown Eastside," he said.

"We need to expose these problems to students because students are the people that are going to solve these problems in the future. And if they don't know what the problems are, that's never going to happen."

Building support services

Bhuiyan also participates in the volunteer-run "Kitchen on a Mission" created by Churchill student Kristen Anderson in 2015.

The organization collects food from a number of businesses including Cobs, Piast Bakery and two locations of Terra Breads that donate their unsold baked goods for redistribution.

Since its early days, the club has grown to five schools and 100 students who collect goods for 10 different shelters. Going forward, the group hopes to include the new modular housing project.

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

With files from the CBC's On The Coast