Belonging starts here

By Anika Barlow, as published in the Vancouver Sun.

I live in East Vancouver just off Commercial Drive. My house looks like a nondescript “Vancouver Special” from the street, but it’s far from ordinary by our city’s standards. Over the past two years, I have shared my home with more than 50 people from over a dozen countries.

On Tuesdays, we cook and eat dinner together, and most other days we share tea in each others’ apartments or conversation in the backyard. While Vancouver suffers from a crisis of isolation, my own days unfold within a rich community. I live with refugee claimants.

Many of my peers’ experience of living in Vancouver is marked by loneliness. I hear this repeatedly in conversation with other young adults, and read it in the statistics of reports such as the Vancouver Foundation’s “Connect and Engage” survey of 2017. We know how to talk about “community,” but we’ve forgotten what it feels like, and we wonder if “neighbour” might be too strong a term for the people who live next door.

Life with refugee claimants at Kinbrace Community Society couldn’t be more of a contrast.

Read the rest of the Vancouver Sun article here.