A client representative died in my early years as Chair of the Region’s Employment and Income Advisory Committee. Disabled, Ed still came regularly to our monthly meetings and he volunteered for the local Liberals on their campaigns. He was estranged from his family.
A neighbour in his social housing complex found him and his body was carried away to the morgue. Ed’s was cremated and his funeral was paid for by ODSP. He was buried in an unmarked grave.
When the committee found out about Ed’s death and burial, we wanted to do something for such a great committee member. So I suggested passing the hat for a gravestone and found out the cost was 200 dollars for a simple plaque. We also paid for a small obituary. We raised the money and had a memorial for him presided over by Rev. June Anderson. Former Cambridge Mayor Claudette Millar came to represent the local Liberals.
Ed’s mother and sister found out about his death through the obituary and went to see his grave. They sent us a letter thanking us for the stone. They had been estranged from him for many years.
A few years ago, Birgit Lindenberg used this blog to write obituaries for the homeless. because they died and no one cared. Many homeless, even though they are buried by the Region, do not have a gravestone, just a number as shown the Record article, Caring for the Unclaimed Dead
Those homeless do have people who cared for them. Whether other homeless people, workers at the soup kitchen or downtown residents like Birgit. As the famous line in Death of a Salesman says, “Attention must be paid.”
The monument will provide a place for ceremonies and memories of those who have passed. It will also provide a reminder that the homeless are people who had lives and friends and family. Critics, if you feel that money needs to go to help the homeless, I hope that like me, you contribute to the organizations that help them.