Nova Scotia

Dozens turn out for homeless memorial service in Halifax

About 50 people braved a cold December day for a homeless memorial service outside the former St. Patrick's -Alexandra school in Halifax.

Organizers called for more concrete solutions to homelessness

About 50 people braved the bitter cold outside the former St. Patrick's-Alexandra school in Halifax for a homeless memorial organized by Out of the Cold. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

Amy Moonshadow was one of dozens of people who turned out on a bitterly cold day in Halifax Wednesday for a homeless memorial service.

The event honours those who have died while experiencing poverty and homelessness.

She attended in memory of her Welcome Housing neighbour, Willard Thomas Comeau, 62, who died after being struck by a truck in north-end Halifax on Dec. 14, 2018.

The event was arranged by the Out of the Cold Community Association.

Amy Moonshadow attended the service in memory of her friend and neighbour, Willard Comeau, who was killed by a truck in the city's north end. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

Michelle Malette, one of the organizers, said the pandemic raised concerns, but those behind the event felt it needed to be held.

"It's not OK when someone in our community, and one of our neighbours, dies because of systems and things that are in place in our community that we all live in, and we don't mark that," she said. "And it's so important that we mark it."

Malette said that the choice of location outside the former St. Patrick's-Alexandra school was deliberate. 

"It hurts everyone's heart that in this community, and specifically in the north end, we could have gone to the Peace and Friendship Park, or we could have gone to Victoria Park, but we thought this was the best place to be because this is a terrible, terrible waste," Malette said.

Michelle Malette helped organize the event. (Paul Poirier)

She said the situation was maddening because overnight shelters in Halifax are forced to turn people away.

The former school building has been the subject of legal challenges for years with several community groups trying to block its sale. 

People came forward during the service to call out the names of friends, neighbours and loved ones, creating a poignant reminder of the number of lives lost. 

Individuals and families braved the cold to hear the names of those lost to homelessness. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

 Malette said there is a lot of talk about helping the homeless but more concrete action needs to be taken.

"What is actually important is for regular people to say loudly and continuously and forcefully that they care that there are people in the city … [who] do not have a home," she said.

"They don't have a safe home. They don't have an affordable home. It's a daily heartbreak for people. And people just want to live. Everyone is entitled to a house."

She said the building Out of the Cold occupies is slated for development. The organization could have to move out in April 2021.



Vernon Ramesar


Vernon Ramesar is a reporter and video and radio journalist originally based in Trinidad. He now lives in Halifax.