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Canada’s National Homelessness Marathon in the Wake of Protest Across the Country

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Canada’s National Homelessness Marathon in the Wake of Protest Across the Country


What: The 11th annual Homelessness Marathon, a pan-Canadian radio event

When: February 20-21, 2013 (5pm-7am EST)

Where: On the FM airwaves across Canada, including CKUT, 90.3 in Montreal


Montreal, QC/Mohawk Territory –This winter the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence brought massive rallies, popular education and pressure on the Canadian government to take a new direction forward under the slogan #IdleKnowMore. Over a year ago, Chief Spence called a state of emergency for the Attawapiskat First Nation, largely to due with the state of housing and homelessness on their reserve, rooted in broken promises and treaties. For Indigenous people precarious housing in reserve communities and over crowding continue to be a huge housing issue. The Native Counseling Service of Alberta states that “the Aboriginal homeless rate is at about 40% Canada wide”.

This issue is not limited to the reserve boundaries of Attawapiskat, but extends to all corners and coasts of this country. In 2005 the federal government estimated that 150,000 people were homeless in Canada. Homeless advocates have estimated the actual number is closer to 300,000. Here in Montreal, the homeless advocacy group le Réseau d'aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM) estimates that there are around 30,000 people living on the streets, yet there are only an average of 720 shelter beds available on any given night, and 13,000 people have no fixed address.

As frigid temperatures persist in Montreal's harsh winter and we continue to lose members of our community living on the streets to the cold every year, CKUT and radio stations across the country open their airwaves to continue the conversation on inadequate housing and homelessness for both natives and non-natives.

For the eleventh year in the row, CKUT radio is hosting the Homelessness Marathon in front of the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal, going live to air from 5pm on February 20th until 7am the next morning. The broadcast happens on CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal, and is simulcast on close to 40 other stations in nearly every province and territory across the country. This year we are upping the usual 14 hours of programming to 21 hours by having both a simultaneous local and a national broadcast, hosted in one of 13 cities by other campus/community radio stations. We see a growing number of stations taking on a more engaged role in the marathon as a sign of the resonance of inadequate housing and homelessness issues everywhere in Canada. In Canada continues to be a privilege instead of a right. It's time to listen.

"A lot of people don’t understand what homelessness means. 'Comfortable' society thinks homeless people are just lazy and could get jobs. If they understand the lack of tools or esteem homeless people have they might understand why it’s so hard to land a job or get in to a 'comfortable' situation. Events like the Homelessness Marathon open up that dialogue for listeners to understand all the difficulties that precariousness brings, and permits listeners to hear what’s really going on with homeless people without the same bias they hold when they are approached on the street for money." Dave Dumouchel , youth counselor at Dans la Rue.

Idle? Know More. CKUT is encouraging people to tune-in, call-in, come by and be part of this national radio dialogue on homelessness. This year, the marathon focuses on indigenous land struggles and rights movement, the housing situation on Aboriginal reservations, prison and homelessness, street-based sex work, criminalization of poverty and homelessness, access to homeless shelters for transgendered and transexual people, and much more. CKUT has partnered with Chez Doris women's centre and Chez Pops youth centre to regularly hear the voices of these street communities. This unique radio event brings CKUT’s microphones right out into the street all night to amplify the voices of the Canada’s homeless from coast to coast to coast.

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For more information on the marathon, including the list of participating radio stations, and the broadcast topics by hour, visit


Candice Cascanette, Homelessness Marathon Coordinator – 514-448-4041 x.6788 (interviews in English and French)

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CKUT News (CKUT Community News 90.3FM)
Montreal, Quebec
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