25. Waldo 101: Mapping the Intersections of Space, Place, and Gender in the Lives of Ten Homeless Youth

The childhood favourite, “Where’s Waldo?” can teach us a lot about youth homelessness. The first lesson is that in public spaces we are nearly always seen, even when we do not want to be. Homeless youth understand this, trying to blend into the background at certain times, while drawing attention to themselves at others. The second lesson is that where one stands largely determines whether one will be seen. In some places and spaces favoured by homeless youth, like parks, social service agencies, and street corners, it is nearly impossible for them to be hidden. Lastly, Waldo’s unmatched access to hiding spaces is largely a result of his being male. On the street, homeless men have considerably more freedom of movement than their female peers. These combined lessons suggest there is a need for services that are spread throughout the city, initiatives that reduce stigma, improved police engagement, and additional supports for women and the dogs who frequently travel with them.

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Gaetz, Stephen
O’Grady, Bill
Buccieri, Kristy
Karabanow, Jeff
Marsolais, Allyson
Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory On Homelessness