How We Got Started

HESN was present at both the Ferguson ad First Ontario Centre encampments that were dismantled by the City of Hamilton in October 2020.

We saw, first hand, that advocacy was needed around legal observation and consent-based negotiation between the authorities and encampment residents and we intervened, where asked, when the rights of Hamiltonians were being infringed upon.

We successfully worked with encampment residents to come up with solutions and prioritized meeting those residents where they were at, rather than assiimposing the often artificial timelines and rules being handed down by the City and other authorities.

Where We Ended Up

After several days of evictions of encampment residents in October 2020, legal observers regrouped and continued to check in on those impacted. Legal observers and other volunteers who had been active at the Ferguson and First Ontario Centre encampments joined what is more broadly known as Freedom Camp in November and December 2020.

Freedom Camp, a movement by Defund HPS organizers to draw attention to the ongoing housing crisis in Hamilton, was set up in front of Hamilton's City Hall for more than 2 weeks and brought many Hamiltonians together.

Freedom Camp organizers supported unhoused and houseless Hamiltonians by providing access to shelter, medical aid, food, clothing, and support. In December, when Freedom Camp eventually shut down, organizers committed to continuing this work and launching what is now the Hamilton Encampment Support Network.

Since that time, in January and February of 2021, we organized,  met, talked, and wrote about how we could continue this work and have been spending March and April training volunteers to go out into encampments to provide support to residents who want it.

We know that this work will continue to be important and we look forward to allying ourselves with other like-minded organizations who see the need to prioritize those most impacted by Hamilton's housing crisis.