Glass Window Effect: Tent City Victoria BC. April 2016.


On April 27, 2016 I visited Super inTent city in Victoria for the second time in two weeks. This structure in this photograph is one of the most iconic structures around because it captures the secrecy of tent city. The glass wood frame placed inside the tent and tarp is an actual structure on display at the corner of tent city. How someone would be able to get something that heavy to Quadra ST in Victoria city is beyond me. People live behind the glass structure and this one tent construction is probably one of the most sophisticated out of all of the 120 tents. It was mentioned that an organization, from Vancouver – PHS would come in and supervise tent city – but when I walked into the core of the rummaged city, I did not see anyone except inhabitants sitting around a fire, an inhabitant pouring water and two people sweeping twigs off of the dirt (a pointless action if you would ask me). For years now I have tried to help people who have fallen through the cracks by using visual connection mapping and the more I used visual connection mapping at Our Place Society, a homeless shelter in Victoria, the more and more compassion I had for individuals who were classified as marginalized. I started to notice more and more complexities to each individual who visited Our Place Society. Some individuals had serious mental illness and were untreated; some individuals had serious mental illness and were in the care of case workers, doctors, ACT teams, hospital workers, subsidized housing units and were attending psycho-social activities in the community;  others were sex workers; drug addicts; people with cancer (with and without treatment); others had physical disabilities – to name but a few of the individuals that I witnessed. Most of the individuals that I spoke to through visual connection mapping were seriously mentally ill and the majority had schizophrenia. The more and more I tried to help, the deeper and deeper I empathized with their symptoms. To describe my experience clearly, I would have to say that I experienced there being a glass window between me and the individual who was partaking in visual connection mapping. I often thought that I would be able to break the glass window dividing me and the other individual and this act would then cause clarity in the individual with schizophrenia and once the act of breaking the glass window was broken then the individual would be able to look at life through new perspectives and then be able to both cope and succeed within the boundaries and constraints – as well as opportunities and blessings – within a Western society – however this has not occurred after multiple years. The glass window between helper and person with schizophrenia stays up. What this could mean is that there is possibly a medical symptom which could best describe this glass window effect. And this glass window effect which could correspond to a medical symptom could possibly be a factor in how and why homelessness in Victoria city occurs. When it comes to schizophrenia in Victoria BC there are numerous laws found in the Mental Health Act which date back to the 1900’s. Even though conditions for patients in hospitals who have schizophrenia have improved over the years, the actual laws have stayed the same. This means that from a legal stand point, schizophrenia is locked in a water-tight glass box and no hammer is strong enough to break it open with one side of the coin – the side of helper and patient (with schizophrenia) as on the other side of the coin – patient (with schizophrenia) and society.  [Photograph taken by me on April 27, 2016 at Quadra St, Super inTent city, Victoria BC Canada at around noon time].tent city

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