Support, endorse, and defend the #Squat2Survive movement!
On April 1st, a group of poor and homeless Indigenous and working class activists and supporters took over a vacant, publicly-owned building in downtown Surrey, naming it the Hothouse Squat and announcing the beginning of the #SQUAT2SURVIVE movement. The police evicted the squat the same day, but the squatters promised that this would not be their last squat!
Then, on April 18, homeless and underhoused residents of the Downtown Eastside launched the Stewart Squat in Vancouver, reiterating the Hothouse Squat's call to #SQUAT2SURVIVE.
Squatters are calling for all poor and homeless people to join the #SQUAT2SURVIVE movement and take over vacant buildings, assert their right to seek safety, security, and shelter from a deadly pandemic, and pressure the government to release the resources necessary for those most vulnerable to COVID-19 to defend themselves against it. We call for each #Squat2Survive action to support the self-organization and autonomy of Indigenous people and women by creating Indigenous and women-only spaces and leadership structures.
Our fight is against Canada's obscene bailout of banks and bosses, and it's against Canada's "public" health response, which predictably treats white, middle-class, home-owning, heterosexual, settler men as those most deserving of protection from COVID-19. For Indigenous people, vulnerability to COVID-19 is a product of genocidal colonialism. For working class and Indigenous women, trans, and two-spirit people, it's a product of both capitalist and colonial patriarchies. The #Squat2Survive movement fights for Indigenous people to practice sovereignty and decolonization against a dominant, settler-colonial society, and for women to practice self-determination against cis, male gender power.
The #SQUAT2SURVIVE movement argues that those who have been left out of Canada's "public" health response should take over empty buildings to escape the death sentence of sleeping on the streets, or in shelters, SROs, and modular housing, during a pandemic. These warehouses for the poor are hothouses for COVID-19, and we will not remain in them, waiting to die or be shuffled from one form of inadequate shelter to another.
The #SQUAT2SURVIVE movement demands:
1. Homes now!
The Province must use its emergency power to take (not negotiate-for) and use hotels to house every person in shelters, on the streets, in temporary modular housing, SRO hotels, overcrowded reserve and urban Indigenous housing, and for all women and children fleeing elevated violence during the COVID-19 home isolation conditions. Requiring health referral and obvious symptoms for admission to low income safe centres is a setup that is organizing a widespread outbreak in poor communities.
2. Stop policing the crisis!
Allow immediate access for anyone who wants to enter hotels and government-run emergency shelters, but do not force anyone inside. Stop all enforcement of bylaws and criminal code laws that criminalize poverty, homelessness, drug use, and sex work.
3. Health care and safe supply for all
Make a safe supply of opiates and stimulants, as well as feminine hygiene products, pregnancy tests and birth control, diapers and baby wipes, and Hormone Replacement Therapy medications available at pharmacies without prescription and without cost.
4. Economic support for the poor
Make welfare and disability $2000/ month to match the temporary federal emergency service EI package and make the upgraded EI package accessible to everyone not already on social assistance, including temporary foreign workers and non-status people, and people who work in illicit and informal economies.
There are empty hotels all over the Province that could immediately be expropriated to house anyone on the streets or in a COVID-19 hothouse. In Surrey, three large hotels with a total of over 500 rooms—Civic Hotel, Sheraton Vancouver Guildford, and Ramada by Wyndham—are closed, and another 900 hotel rooms are currently unoccupied. We demand that the Province make use of these empty spaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities most vulnerable to death.
Support the Hothouse Squat and all future squats within the #SQUAT2SURVIVE movement by signing below!
Signatories as of April 16
1 Patrick Morrison, Autonomous
2 marcus waddington
3 Shawn Norman
4 Rider Cooey, Oppenheimer food and handwash support
5 Manu S-M, McMaster University
6 James Franze
7 Riley Vardy
8 Scott Neufeld
9 Ashley Mollison
10 Rebecca Blakey
11 Rowan Morris
12 Sarah Wood
13 Sarah Lett
14 Yayuk Joffres
15 Stuart Johnson
16 Robyn Kurtz
17 John Schoch
18 Cameron Hoang
19 Ed Graham, Teaching Support Staff Union
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