"My nurse hands once did more useful things. They immunized the fat, healthy thighs of infants, they carefully measured cardiac drugs to administer to young heart patients, they bathed both the elderly lady after her surgery and the 24-year-old Italian-Canadian woman after her death. My hands once mixed linseed poultices, rubbed twenty backs a night before darkness fell and, by flashlight, checked intravenous drips, catheters, and other tubing. They made hot milk in the middle of the night and then, later at home, soothed a child with too-frequent earaches.
These are good uses for hands.
Now they carry a black bag into streets, alleyways, and ravines. The bandages I carry no longer cover the wounds of my patients. My vitamins will not prevent the white plague of tuberculosis from taking another victim. The granola bars I carry cannot begin to feed the hunger I meet. I cannot even help someone achieve one peaceful night of safety and sleep. Only roofs will do that. And I am not a carpenter."
There is no right to shelter or housing in Canada.
Over the past three decades, a series of federal governments cut funding for social programs and eliminated our national housing program, leaving hundreds of thousands of people victim to the tsunami of homelessness that was declared a national disaster twenty years ago. No one knows this reality better than Cathy Crowe, who witnessed the explosion of homelessness across Canada while working as a Street Nurse. This fallout was accompanied by great suffering, inhumane shelter conditions, new disease outbreaks, and clusters of homeless deaths.
It is a reality that spans across the entire country.
In A Knapsack Full of Dreams, Cathy Crowe details her lifelong commitment as a nurse and social justice activist—particularly her thirty years as a Street Nurse—with passion, grace, and fortitude. Presented through the lens of someone dedicated to the power and beauty of film, A Knapsack Full of Dreams will move you, then inspire you to act.