Last night, January 11, 2022, the temperature in Caledon dropped to -21 degrees Celsius and -25 if you factor in the wind chill. At these temperatures the unsheltered human body goes through a sequence from frost nip to frostbite to hypothermia. We begin to shiver uncontrollably to keep our body warm. Within one hour the heart stops pumping blood to our extremities concentrating the life giving warmth around our vital organs. By the end of three hours, the brain shuts down, the heart stops beating and we freeze to death. Last night Environment Canada issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert for all of Canada except BC, They are getting hit with more rain, and flooding, and mudslides. The new normal.
Imagine being homeless in these conditions.
The Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) walk was conceived to raise funds to address the issues of homelessness and hunger and prevent the kinds of tragedies that come with extreme weather conditions. Water, Food, and Shelter are basic needs of all peoples and are the first to be lost to the disadvantaged in our society. CNOY began in 2011 and, to quote from their website history, was “launched in two locations supported by three charitable partners, including Ann Barnard Ball at Yonge Street Mission, Greg Paul at Sanctuary Ministries in Toronto, and Harry Whyte and Scott Brush at Ray of Hope Community Centre in Kitchener/Waterloo.” They placed their trust in the Blue Sea Foundation to manage the event, and that trust was not misplaced.
CNOY has grown every year since 2011, bringing communities together in awareness and action for the benefit of our most disadvantaged. In a country as wealthy as Canada and in a province that is “For the People” the the only obstacles to providing shelters and affordable housing are lack of political will, corporate greed, and public apathy.
The first CNOY walk in the Town of Caledon began in 2020, organized through Caledon Community Services. Families came together on a cold February night to make a 5 km walk through the streets and trails of Caledon East. At the end of the walk we all met in the Caledon East Community Centre for a celebratory bowl of warm soup and to give thanks to the CCS volunteers. It was the true meaning of community.
Since then the global pandemic has not made things any easier for the most vulnerable among us. In 2021 the CNOY walk went online unless you could take your small masked, appropriately spaced group on a local outdoor trail. That will be the same situation this year on February 26, 2022 when the Caledon community takes a walk on the Coldest Night of the Year.
If you can, please support the CNOY project wherever you are – it’ll do your heart good. The way I see it.
To find out more go to the Blue Sea Foundation and to make a donation to CNOY ’22 go to <cnoy.org>
Skid Crease, Caledon
*image from cnoy.org