Empowering Change: Nathan Colquhoun's Selflessness and the Journey Towards a Better Sarnia

Empowering Change: Nathan Colquhoun's Selflessness and the Journey Towards a Better Sarnia

Nathan, today I am writing this blog post as a heartfelt reply to your recent Facebook post. It deeply moved me to witness the selflessness and bravery you displayed when you helped a homeless individual who was mistreated by the police. Despite the challenges you faced, including being voted out as  City Councillor for daring to run for mayor, your unwavering commitment to our community shines through. It saddens me that some people fail to see the lens through which you operate, criticizing you for wearing a tank top at city council meetings without understanding the powerful statement you were making about bodily autonomy. But to those who truly understand and appreciate your efforts, including myself, your actions speak louder than words. You deserve more recognition than just a Facebook reply for the commendable insights and invaluable help you provide to our community. While I may not always agree with everything you say, I firmly believe in the power of action, and you consistently demonstrate that you are doing what is right. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all.


Nathan Colquhoun's Facebook today read:

"So this situation just happened downtown twenty minutes ago. The first half of the story is just from onlookers, and the second half is from when I showed up.
A man was sitting inside the entrance of a downtown building and the police were called to deal with it. The police came, moved him, and then went away. Then it sounds like he had a a lot of stuff that was in the doorway of business so the police were called a second time. The police showed up this time, ticketed the man with a $50 ticket for prohibited activities on a premise and then the police proceeded to take a bunch of the items that were scattered around him and load it into a grocery cart that was there and throw it into a nearby dumpster.
I arrived at this point and I asked the officers if they threw out his stuff and they said he said it wasn't his and said they were called because he was ruining the business of this "poor business owner." The police then left the scene with the man sitting along the wall with a bunch of other stuff scattered about and his ticket lying on the ground before him.
So I went and spoke to the man, he introduced himself as "Mike Bond, or maybe Chris, whatever I wanted to call him." He was clearly having a rough day, covered in wasps and half opened containers of food scattered around him. He had a bad leg and a walker and was slouched up against the wall. So we chatted for ten minutes and then I went back to the dumpster and pulled out the grocery cart and brought it back to him and loaded it up for him with all his things.
This is exactly the problem with the way the police are handling this situation and I am completely flabbergasted at how the chief and the police board think that their $30 million dollar budget is even remotely addressing the actual problem here. They sent two officers, in two different cars, both young officers and only interested in just "doing their job" which they interpreted to mean throwing out all this guys stuff, giving him a ticket and feeling justified in doing so to make sure this poor business owner was taken care of. The guy was harmless, he posed no threat, and the Sarnia Police's answer to this situation is to send two officers, two cars, give him a ticket and then leave him there.
What this guy needed was some help cleaning up his stuff and getting organized and what he got was a giant middle finger from our police department. So tell me again Chief Davis how this is an actual solution? For the love of God, can you please stop interacting with these humans entirely please, and if you aren't going to then at the very least please inform your officers that their job is not to throw out their things, they shouldn't be giving them tickets, and they should learn to show compassion to all parties involved not just the people who own property. You are failing our community, and all your officers are doing is kicking people when they are down."
As a 42-year-old woman born and raised in Sarnia, I understand the challenges we face, especially regarding the homelessness crisis and the lack of resources available. It has hit particularly close to home as I am currently raising my sister's premature babies, who were born to a mother with syphilis and received no prenatal care. She is also homeless. 

I must clarify that the issue of their births not being registered was not due to any fault of my sister, as she had them at the hospital. It was a result of challenges within the social work system and the coordination between the hospital and the system. These bureaucratic hurdles serve as a stark reminder of the pressing need to improve our systems and provide better support for families in similar circumstances.

I am also aware of your tireless efforts as a one-man advocate, fighting for change and standing up for those who are often overlooked. Unfortunately, in our conservative and old-fashioned town, your dedication may sometimes be misunderstood, and you may even be seen as a bit of an outsider.  However, I want to emphasize that I am proud of you for breaking free from the patriarchal norms that persist in our community. Your unique perspective and commitment to bringing about positive change have been instrumental in shedding light on the problems our city has long faced. Your dedication to advocating for underrepresented individuals is truly commendable, and I appreciate your efforts in caring for the intersectional needs of our community. Your tireless efforts don’t go unnoticed and many individuals should feel inspired by your public service, especially other men. 

Given our shared concerns, I would love to invite you for a beer (I know a family-friendly place!) so we can have a personal and open discussion about the pressing issues in our community. The homelessness crisis, addiction crisis, and the imminent surge of domestic violence are deeply troubling. Our resources are already stretched thin, and it is clear that we need to find innovative solutions to address these challenges. I would love to attend your Conversation events, however, with my new life of motherhood, a daytime conversation would be beneficial, as I am a party of one in these precious little lives.

One potential solution we should explore is the possibility of creating a safe consumption site. Such a site could provide a dedicated space where individuals struggling with addiction can safely consume substances under supervision, while also gaining access to resources, support, and harm-reduction services. This approach would have several positive impacts on our community.

Firstly, a safe consumption site would help clean up our streets and reduce the loitering that affects local businesses. By providing a designated space for individuals to consume substances, we can minimize public drug use and associated issues, fostering a safer and more inviting environment for everyone.

Secondly, a safe consumption site would offer a compassionate approach to addressing addiction. Many individuals facing addiction are unable to access help on their own due to various barriers. By providing a supervised and supportive setting, we can bridge this gap and ensure that those who need assistance receive the help they deserve.

As an individual entering my 12th year, free from the grip of fentanyl and determined to break free from toxic cycles, I feel compelled to speak out on these crucial issues. Through my extensive education and the support that has bolstered my self-esteem, I have gained the confidence to address these matters. It is important for me to acknowledge that I am only one of the 5% who have managed to overcome these challenges. I attribute my success to the compassion shown by others and the resources that were made available to me. 

However, it is essential to recognize that many individuals struggling with addiction do not have access to the same resources and support. This lack of resources is particularly concerning when it comes to addressing the spread of undocumented syphilis in our town. The homeless population, who often face difficulties in obtaining healthcare and testing, are at risk of contracting and unknowingly spreading this disease. Given the issues surrounding infidelity and sex work in Sarnia, that I regularly see in my advocacy work, this should be a major concern for our community.

During our conversation, let's delve deeper into these issues and discuss potential solutions. It is crucial that we advocate for increased resources, testing, and support for the homeless population. By addressing these challenges with empathy and understanding, we can work towards creating a safer and more inclusive community where everyone has access to the resources they need to break free from addiction and prevent the spread of diseases.

I would also like to extend an invitation to members of the City Council, as well as individuals working in social work, to join us for a beer or a mocktail. It is important to provide options for those who do not drink or are in recovery. By having a diverse group of voices at the table, we can foster a more comprehensive and inclusive discussion about the issues we are facing.

I would also like to commend City Councillor Brian White for his bravery in openly discussing his own recovery journey. His transparency serves as an inspiration to others who may be struggling with addiction. By sharing his story, Councillor White helps break down the stigma surrounding addiction and encourages others to seek help and support.

I would also like to commend Councillor Chrissy McRoberts for her exceptional work in our community. She has broken systemic barriers in our conservative town and is a powerful advocate for the underrepresented, including but not limited to the LGBTQ2S+ community, as well as our housing crisis. Her dedication and contributions don't go unnoticed. Councillor McRoberts' efforts and commitment to positive change deserve recognition and appreciation.

I am thankful to everyone on the panel for dedicating their time to our community, and I would like to highlight our new members from the last election, including Councillor Adam Kilner, who does exceptional work in our community, for being part of the change that Sarnia needs, creating a more diverse representation of our community.

Together, let's challenge the smoke and mirrors approach that seems to be prevalent and work towards tangible, meaningful change in our community.

Your hard work and dedication don't go unnoticed, Nathan. Our community could greatly benefit from more leading men in our community like you and Councillors White and Kilner, who understand the importance of intersectionality and amplifying the voices of the underrepresented. It's crucial that we have advocates who recognize and address the unique challenges faced by marginalized communities. Thank you both for your unwavering commitment to making a difference.

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