1. Foreword

Thomas King (2003) reminds us that “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are” (p. 2). Stories provide the structure through which actions and words are given meaning and value judgments are assigned; they act as our interpretive filters. Many stories are not of our own making, but rather are told about us by others. This is especially true of communities and individuals who experience social marginalization and oppression. It is other people, those with greater power and access to resources, who are the authors of the stories that come to dominate. Often – but not always – it is with good intention, and yet routinely those in power tell and retell stories without fully understanding the people and the lives that populate these stories. People with lived experience of homelessness encounter the stories others tell about them on a daily basis. Often within these stories, the portrayal of ‘the homeless’ as a monolithic category comprised of persons all sharing common and largely unalterable traits— lazy, addicted, criminal—serves to undermine their humanity, as well as construct divisions between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ 

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Inclusion Working Group
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness