The 20 or so people who have pitched tents in a local parking lot in Thunder Bay are still feeling the effects of a potentially deadly incident that took place last week says an outreach worker.
On Oct. 5, a man in a pickup drove his truck through the parking lot and over one of the tents that were pitched there.
No one was in the tent at the time, but an outreach workers says it shook people there.
“They thought that there somebody was in the tent and luckily, it was just a matter of minutes that he had left his tent to go to Walmart to use the bathroom,” said Leesa Davey, an outreach worker with WiiChiiHehWayWin in Thunder Bay. “So initially all of us were just feeling just angry about the incident and worrying about the safety and then the mental health about the people that were on site.”
A 37-year-old man from Fowler, Ont., who police have not named has been charged with dangerous driving.
Police say they are still investigating the motives of the driver – who was not impaired at the time.
This incident comes shortly after the City of Thunder Bay planned to build a fence around the camp area, so the people there would have to relocate.
Ma-Nee Chacaby, an Elder and advocate for Indigenous People in Thunder Bay opposed and protested against the fence last month.
“They are willing to spend money to close the gate around it but they’d rather spend that money to do that than spend money for the homeless people to find shelters for them,” said Chacaby.
Thunder Bay backed down and has stopped the construction of the fence for now.
Mayor Bill Mauro said he could not comment specifically comment on the truck incident at the camp due to the ongoing investigation, however, he said the city has reached out to the Ontario government to request additional funding for houseless people.
Earlier this year the federal government identified Thunder Bay as a racism hotpot in Canada along with Hamilton, Ont., and Québec City because of the high number of police-reported hate crimes.
According to a 2018 survey, roughly 500 people are houseless in Thunder Bay, two-thirds of which are Indigenous people.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the camp is located at a local park. The camp is located in a parking lot.