Non-profit on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside helping to get homeless to the polls

The non-profit organization Union Gospel Mission helps people on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in a variety of ways. It’s an emergency shelter, addiction recovery centre, provides affordable housing and daily meals for those living in poverty.

They year it’s adding transportation to the polls to its list of services.

It’s helping people who have no fixed address or identification to be able to vote in Monday’s federal election.

“People who are homeless or on the streets have the most at stake in an election but then ironically they face the most hurdles,” says Jeremy Hunka from the Union Gospel Mission.

There are thousands of people who are homeless in the city of Vancouver alone.

This hidden part of society have remained voiceless for a long time.

Richard Vanderwal spent years dealing with addictions and homelessness.

He says exercising his democratic right to vote means a lot to him.

“I think its extremely important because you know every life matters it really does,” says Vanderwal. “A person’s socio- economic status should never get in the way of what they think or who they are in society.”

Michael Nardachioni is a volunteer who helps anyone whose interested to get registered to vote.

Hunka says this program is available in most cities across Canada.

“We do it most elections its always a little bit different depending on if its municipal, provincial or federal but its really important we try and make it happen,” he said.

APTN News: Was it difficult to get Elections Canada to sign on to something like this?

Hunka: “Actually no, Elections Canada has been really great about getting people an opportunity to vote they’ve been answering all of our questions and hosting the polls really close by at a Union Gospel Mission building and its really amazing to see.”

Vanderwal has some advice to those that don’t think they can vote because of being homeless.

“Come out of the shadows stand up and be counted,” he said.


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