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Humanizing homelessness: series talks to residents of Duncan’s The Village

Ask the Experts episodes from The Existence Project available to view online
The Existence Project based in Victoria spent two years creating a feature length documentary called ‘Moving Day’ which chronicles the eviction of the homeless encampment in Beacon Hill Park during the height of the pandemic. They have now completed their new video series called Ask the Experts which was filmed last winter at The Village. (Submitted)

“I think we can all recognize that folks who have lived experience are the true experts and need a seat at the table when it comes to conversations about ending homelessness,” said Kendra Crighton of the Existence Project.

The Existence Project, based out of Victoria, with the support of Cowichan Community Action Team have been working together for just over a year in an effort to bring those voices forward by helping to share some of the personal stories of the folks living at The Village transitional housing on Trunk Road in Duncan.

They’ve created a video series called Ask the Experts. The series was filmed last winter on site, and their first episode Ask the Experts: The Village will look at seven people who live at the site. The first episode was available to watch online on Feb. 14.

READ MORE: Province will support The Village housing project in Duncan until 2027

The Existence Project is a non-profit based out of Victoria that uses storytelling to humanize the issue of homelessness. They host a live storytelling event called Keeping it Human Victoria, which aims to shift the narrative around homelessness and inspire community members to advocate for lasting change, and they have been running community based anti-stigma workshops around storytelling since 2016.

TEP spent two years creating a feature length documentary called Moving Day that chronicles the eviction of the homeless encampment in Beacon Hill Park during the height of the pandemic. It can be viewed at

“Our team went into the park at the height of the pandemic with the goal of meeting people and understanding what was happening on the grounds,” said Crighton. “During this time fear was very prominent and that was reflected in the headlines of stories about folks living outside. When we started making connections in the park and realized there was a beautiful community there.

“Our original plan was to create a series of short videos profiling people as they moved indoors but the project snowballed in the best way possible and we ended up with Moving Day. The experience was incredibly beautiful and challenging. Spending time with folks living in the park showed me the true meaning of community and how vital it is.”

The Existence Project also first launched the Ask The Experts video series during the pandemic, and since coming to live in the valley Crighton said she wanted to bring the important work of TEP closer to home. She was inspired by the work that the action team was doing, and with their support the passion project to film this video series took flight.

“During the pandemic public dialogue around homelessness was massive and we recognized that there was a lack of people with lived experience being included in the conversation,” said Crighton. “Our team stands by the belief that people who have lived or living experience of homelessness are the true experts and need a seat at the table when discussing possible solutions. We have filmed and released an Ask The Experts series with folks living in an encampment, with outreach workers and volunteers on the front-lines of homelessness, and now with folks at the village.

“The most rewarding part about the Ask the Experts series is highlighting the voices of lived experience.”

Crighton said she was both inspired and amazed by the model of The Village as one of the best working solutions for homelessness that she has seen.

“The Village is an incredible model. I think the idea of tiny house villages as an interim solution to homelessness are vital while communities work to build permanent affordable housing,”said Crighton. “I really value the community building aspect of the housing site and the supports that are offered. Everyone has their own unit with a window, plug in, and heat. The units have a front porch for people to use for storage or a garden.”

There will be four Ask the Experts episodes in total, and they can be viewed either on TEP’s website or through their social media pages. To stay in the loop on the new video series follow TEP on Instagram or Facebook @theexistenceproject.

“I hope that anyone who watches the video is able to see the humanity of folks who participated,” said Crighton. “There are amazing people with beautiful ideas, and goals in our community. I hope the video brings people closer together in a time when disconnection is so prevalent.”

About the Author: Chadd Cawson

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