Home Safe Hamilton

SkyWorks Charitable Foundation, David Adkin and Laura Sky

2010, 86:00 minutes, colour, English


"The house plays a big role. It’s holding together the family. It’s like a big cocoon that’s safe for everybody." - Shamso Elmi, film participant

Home Safe Hamilton is the third film in the documentary series from Sky Works that deals with how Canadian families with children live with the threat and the reality of homelessness.

The film examines systemic roots of homelessness as a consequence of economic restructuring, discrimination and displacement. It includes stories of steelworkers affected by industrial layoffs, high school students living in poverty, new Canadians and Aboriginal families.

Home Safe Hamilton shows how the families, their communities and service providers, are working hard to support and advocate for families who are facing homelessness. Together, their stories open our eyes and our hearts, and inspire a renewed determination to end homelessness in Canada.

Home Safe Hamilton was researched and produced with the children and parents who appear in the film. It reflects their experience and thoughts about what it will take to end poverty and homelessness. The documentary is a tool for communities to plan local strategies for social change.

The Stories:
The Hamilton region as been synonymous with steel-making and for generations has been at the centre of Ontario’s industrial heartland. But living out the cold requirements of globalization, Hamilton and its people are now living with job loss, economic insecurity, and the reality or threat of homelessness. We meet steelworkers laid-off and locked-out at the nearby Nanticoke plant. Shannon Horner-Shepherd, a laid-off worker, is now working to help her colleagues survive the current economic pressures. She is determined that community solidarity will prevail in the face of long-term economic change.

Hamilton is the largest centre for newcomers in Ontario. Though many arrive full of hope, they are often devastated by the obstacles that keep them from adequate employment and housing – discrimination, language vulnerability, and the effects of traumatic displacement. Shamso Elmi works hard to help Somali families deal with their desperate housing conditions in the private rental market.

Tuyet and Ynhi, students at Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School (with the largest population of students below the poverty line in Ontario), have chosen to speak out about their needs for support and to encourage other students and teachers to break the silence that grows from the shame of poverty.

We also meet two Latin American refugee families at The Good Shepherd Family Centre where they have found, not only a warm welcome and continuing support, but a family centre that stands as a model for how communities can and should be responding to the reality of family homelessness.

Home Safe Hamilton features a large urban Aboriginal population who are committed to establishing their cultural identity and place in the city. Many are originally from the nearby Six Nations community, the largest First Nation in Canada, but have come to Hamilton for employment and educational opportunities. Housing at Six Nations is limited and Amy Lickers, their community planner, speaks of her community’s effort to provide affordable housing.

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