News / Toronto

Memorial marks Toronto's first homeless deaths of 2016

Advocates use the monthly gathering to call for city to improve shelter conditions and protect homeless population.

People gather Tuesday outside the Church of Holy Trinity as names are added to the memorial remembering homeless people who have died.

Liz Beddall/Metro

People gather Tuesday outside the Church of Holy Trinity as names are added to the memorial remembering homeless people who have died.

Dozens of Toronto homelessness advocates marked the start of a new year on a sad note Tuesday.

They added the first two names of 2016 to the Toronto Homeless Memorial, bringing the list of people honoured outside the Church of Holy Trinity to 792.

The memorial has served as a reminder of the city’s battle against homelessness since 1986. And, each time names are added, people are urged to speak out against its causes.

Many people — braving freezing temperatures and gripping candles — sobbed as they remembered Charles Martin and Anthony William Flint, both of whom died at the end of last year.

Flint was “a young and dynamic man,” Kimberly Curry, executive director of Seeds of Hope Foundation, said about Flint. “Out of exacerbation, he died an unnecessary death. Inhumanity has to stop in this city.”

Flint, 30, had been battling mental health issues before his death. Martin, 49, died of pneumonia.

As they read out names of the 43 homeless people who died in 2015, advocates vowed to continue pushing city hall to improve shelter conditions and protect the people who depend on them.

Cathy Crowe’s been circulating a petition, now signed by more than 1,200, calling for such changes. She plans to take it to city hall and submit it as part of public consultations on the 2016 budget.

“At the very basic we want to be able to prevent deaths,” she said Tuesday.