Students sleep out in the cold

The students at their cardboard box camp by City Hall. Photo Courtesy Trevor Dubois

Five First Nations University students spent their Saturday night sleeping on cardboard boxes, getting a feel for what it’s like to be homeless.

The feat was a challenge set by the university’s social justice club, which used the event to raise $200 for their outreach efforts. The students spent 24 hours wandering around town in the cold, trying to access services for people who really live on the streets.

Danika Hudson-McLeod, the club’s president, said the experience was “rough going” at first. But she learned a lot about the challenges homeless people face.

“It also opened my eyes to the lack of resources,” she said. “So I think, myself personally and the other members, we all feel more strongly about helping the homeless people around the area.”

She said the only places they found open were the YWCA’s cot program and a meal program at the Margo Fournier Centre.

The students didn’t want to take any of those cots away from people who needed them, so they set up camp across from Wesley United Church. Hudson-McLeod said they scraped together some cardboard boxes and laid out their blankets on top.

“It was definitely cold,” she said. “I didn’t feel safe and there were times of the night where the cold really got to my face.”

The group connected with a man who seemed like he knew how to handle the conditions. Hudson-McLeod suspects he may have been homeless himself, and he showed them some tricks of the trade.

“We had this man helping us,” she said. “He kept watching out for us and showing us how to set up the cardboard so that we had coverage from the wind.”

For more on this story, see the November 1 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.