This Sunday, YWCA Hamilton CEO Medora Uppal shared the following remarks focused on housing, hope, and ending gender-based violence as the sermon at the First Unitarian Church in Hamilton. A full recording of her sermon can be found here – many thanks to Bill Johnson for sharing.
There’s a phrase I repeat to myself whenever I find myself losing hope in the face of ongoing crises in our city: ending homelessness and gender-based violence is a marathon, not a sprint.
Hope is what I hold onto every day. I find it in small victories, and in them, I find my faith in the work that I do – that we all do.
The struggle for social justice, for women’s right to life free of violence, and to have safe housing, is about uprooting systems of inequality and requires bringing women into power to create change.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
It’s a challenge to balance pushing our advocacy for change while not losing sight of the daily struggle for survival that women and gender-diverse people face.
We can’t morally and ethically watch people suffer and die on the streets or in their homes while we wait for the bureaucracy that entangles them to figure it out.
At YWCA Hamilton, we provide lifesaving programs that support women, gender-diverse people, and their children to rebuild their lives and move forward with autonomy and dignity. We provide safe, affordable housing that meets them where they’re at – whether they need a safe place to stay for the night, a longer-term home to rebuild their lives after fleeing violence, or a permanent place to call home.
YWCA Hamilton has been providing housing to women since 1889 and we will continue to do so as long as we can find the funding for it. We hoped to be sharing more details about our future supportive housing project today, but we are still advocating for much-needed funding to make this project a reality.
At every point in the process, whenever encouragement is needed, I remind myself: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I look for bright spots along the way – the partnerships we create, the lives we touch, and the passion of those working alongside us to end gender-based violence and homelessness. One of those victories happened last week, when our team met with MPs and Mayor Andrea Horwath and shared the deep need for more safe and affordable housing in the city.
Whenever we have the opportunity, we tell stories of women and families fleeing violence and to plan our next project. We move to elect more women and allies, we demand the funding, we paint the picture of success, we silence the cynics and we will continue. We won’t let progress slip backwards.
We won’t stop fighting, alongside our allies in power and we will hold them accountable.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
This National Housing Day, we invite you to a free online event to learn more about the marathon that allies and colleagues in the feminist movement have been running for over half a century:
“When Home Isn’t Safe” takes place tomorrow, Thursday, November 23 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The evening will be hosted by Lisa Hepfner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and Member of Parliament for Hamilton Mountain.
Jana Pruden, Award-winning feature writer at The Globe and Mail, and the host and co-creator of the hit podcast, In Her Defence
Lynn Zimmer, Founder of Interval House, Canada’s first shelter for women and children fleeing abuse and violence and former Executive Director of YWCA Peterborough Haliburton
Aline Nizigama, CEO of YWCA Canada
Lise Martin, Executive Director of Women’s Shelters of Canada
Michelle Parsons, Executive Director of the Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society
Ann de Ste Croix, Provincial Coordinator of Transition House Association of Nova Scotia
Closed captioning and live French interpretation will be provided.