Commerce Students’ Society raising awareness for youth homelessness throughout the month of March

Campus News

5 Days events raise money for Kiwanis Emergency Youth Shelter

Photo provided by Allie da Silva

University of Victoria’s Commerce Students’ Society (CSS) is hosting a virtual fundraiser for the annual 5 Days event, which seeks to support and raise money for unhoused people. With four virtual events throughout the month of March, their goal is to raise awareness surrounding homelessness and raise $5 000 for Kiwanis Emergency Youth Shelter (KEYS) in Victoria. 

After having met their original goal of $3 000, 5 Days UVic decided to raise their fundraising goal to $5 000. They hope to meet this goal by the end of March.

5 Days is an annual national campaign facilitated by the Canadian Association of Business Students (CABS). The campaign aims to raise awareness for homelessness across Canada with participating universities. 

Typically, the campaign requires participants to simulate the conditions that unhoused people experience for a total of five days. However, due to the pandemic, CABS, a non-profit organization representing 70 000 students across Canada, advised that their usual physical campaign be suspended this year. Instead, the group has endorsed students to campaign online.

The CSS will be extending the 5 Days event into a month focusing on awareness by hosting four events. 

The first day of the campaign, March 1, UVic CSS students hosted a networking event to celebrate its launch. During the week of March 7-13, students are invited to head to the ocean and take a quick plunge. If they take a video or photograph and submit it to Five Days UVic, they will donate five dollars to KEYS, up to a total of $1 000. Participants can either share their plunge on Instagram and tag @5daysuvic or submit directly to 5 Days. 

During the week of March 14-20, students will be able to use their pre-purchased Victoria sampler card. This card gives discounts from partnered businesses throughout the Victoria area. 

The campaign’s final event is on Saturday, March 27 with virtual yoga and mimosas event from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. for an individual at $5 or a household at $8. Students are encouraged to pre-make a drink prior to the event.

All information regarding the events can be found on the 5 Days UVic social media pages. 

Allie da Silva, a third-year commerce student and executive of community outreach for UVic’s CSS says that alongside raising funds to support KEYS, it is important to understand stigmas associated with homelessness.

According to Homeless Hub, there are 40 000 homeless youth in Canada and one in five shelter users are aged between 16 to 24. It is estimated that 25 to 40 per cent of homeless youth belong to the LGBTQ2S+ community.

On the night of March 11, 2020, the Greater Victoria Point-in-Time Count, a biennial survey conducted to understand homelessness in Victoria, counted a total of 1 523 people experiencing homelessness in the region. A total of 620 of these individuals spent the night outside or in an emergency shelter, while 888 individuals slept at short-term or temporary accommodations such as couch surfing, transitional housing, or within public facilities such as hospitals or treatment centers. In the past two years, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Victoria has been unchanged. Ten per cent of these individuals were aged between 16 and 24.

Da Silva says that understanding sources of stigma is necessary to shift public discourse from blaming unhoused people for their circumstances to investigating the root causes.

According to Homeless Hub, factors such as mental health, addiction, abuse, and neglect can contribute to youth homelessness, as well as social and economical structural factors that exist outside of an individual’s control. Institutional failures also contribute to situations that can lead to youth homelessness. 

Although CSS is unable to participate in the event’s original form due to the pandemic, they are still spreading awareness through virtual events, fundraising, and community giving. Giving back to the community looks different for everyone. Da Silva encourages donating clothes or canned goods. 

“[Homelessness is] something that should not be happening in our society. I think the systems that we have in place should be in place to help support all people to have the basic essentials in their life,” da Silva said. “Having housing is a human right.”