Homelessness researchers look to get their message out with short documentary video

Data isn’t the problem for June Anonson and her research team.

When it comes to homelessness in Prince Albert, Anonson and researchers from the University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and First Nations University of Canada have plenty of information showing how severe the problem is, where it occurs, and why. The real problem is getting that information into the hands of everyday citizens, something Anonson views as vital to getting the city’s homeless population off the street.

“People need to realize that this is happening in their own backyards,” said Anonson, the principal investigator for the Addressing Homelessness in Prince Albert and Surrounding Community research project. “It could be their sister. It could be their son. It could be their close friends who are homeless for whatever reason, and we all need to just look at ways that we can support and encourage this population.”

Roughly a year ago, Anonson and her research team began making plans to address that problem. They started planning a documentary video that looks at homelessness in Prince Albert and the agencies that are working to end it.

The team met with representatives from local groups like the YWCA and Homeward Bound program to get a sense of what challenges they were facing, what changes they wanted to see, or what things could be done better. The result was a short documentary style video that will be released this summer. They unveiled a video trailer in February.

Anonson said there is a lot of good work being done in Prince Albert. Their goal is to help boost those efforts with this video.

“We just want to see if there is more that could be done,” Anonson explained. “Are there more ways that we can be working together?”

The less than three-minute trailer features personal stories from formerly homeless Prince Albert residents, along with information for those who help end the problem.

When it comes to programing, Anonson says service clubs and non-profits in Prince Albert are up to the task. She’s hopeful local residents can add to those efforts, especially since the problem isn’t going away. On any given night, roughly 235,000 Canadians will find themselves homeless, and Anonson said that’s unacceptable for a country with this level of wealth.

“We’re such a ‘have’ country,” she said. “We’re not a developing country, so there’s no reason why these numbers should be increasing.”

The trailer for the Prince Albert homeless video is available at www.princealberthomelessservices.com, and on the Prince Albert Daily Herald website.

The Addressing Homelessness in Prince Albert and Surrounding Community research project first began roughly eight years ago, but only started to receive funding in 2017. The project receives internal funding from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as grants from the provincial and federal government.