As we come together to celebrate being able to come together again, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. And to acknowledge that those of us who are settlers benefit from their land: as settlers in K’jipuktuk, as well as fringe theatre as a movement originating from Edinburgh 70+ years ago.
I’m writing today from my apartment/office (that I can’t afford). It’s on the market. The listing boasts that ‘Not only is it cash-flow positive’ but goes on to say, ‘Get your imagination going on the possibilities or upgrade the units to reach their full market potential.’ I’m scared about finding a new apartment. The housing crisis has been a huge topic in Halifax for a while now, but especially after the police evicted people living in tents across the city a few weeks ago.
I’ve been thinking a lot about friends who’ve moved back home, local artists I know who’ve received rent increases so high they’ve had to move, and Fringe alumni who’ve told me stories about moving to Halifax and staying in shelters until they’ve found more permanent housing.
I’m so lucky. I have plenty of family and friends in Halifax and because of that I’ve never had to even consider sleeping on the street, or in a tent, or a shed. About 8 years ago I had gotten into debt and was very behind on my rent. I ended up subletting my apartment because I couldn’t afford it anymore. For a few months I split my time crashing on my brother’s futon, in my Mom’s basement, and in an employer’s spare room. While another friend took in my cat. I spent a lot of time doing mental gymnastics to rationalize that I wasn’t homeless, I just didn’t currently have a home. Whatever that means. Most of us are a lot closer to experiencing homelessness then we’d like to admit.
I’m grateful for the Halifax Fringe Festival because it offers a venue for anyone. It’s unjuried and uncensored.
I’m grateful to this year’s artists who came to participate in our 2021 Fringe even though the current gathering restrictions are so small, even if they sell out every performance no one is going to make enough to cover rent!
I’m excited about theatre. I’m excited to see you all again. I’m excited to gather and laugh and share stories. We’re very lucky. If you can, I’d love to encourage you to think about how integral housing is to our well-being, to write your local representative, and if you can – donate to an organization like Out in The Cold Halifax.
PS: Look at that – I wrote a whole welcome message without mentioning COVID.