Learning Objectives

In this chapter you are invited to enter into an ongoing dialogue about what homelessness is, how it was created, and what we can do to prevent it. Many of the themes identified here will re-emerge throughout the chapters that follow. As you begin to engage with the study of homelessness in Canada, you are encouraged to reflect upon three key questions guiding this chapter’s learning objectives.


  1. We begin with an exploration of the question, ‚ÄúWhat is homelessness?‚ÄĚ While perhaps a seemingly simple question, the answer to this is rather complex. It is important to begin with definitions in order to gain a shared sense of language, and to challenge and move past any one-dimensional preconceptions that might exist. The first section offers an opportunity to form a collective understanding of what is meant by ‚Äėhomelessness‚Äô that is more complex than a simple dichotomy of ‚Äėhomeless‚Äô or ‚Äėnot homeless‚Äô would allow.


  1. After defining homelessness and considering how it exists in multiple forms, our attention turns to an examination of the question, ‚ÄúHow do we know what we know about homelessness?‚ÄĚ Information comes from many different sources ‚Äď research data that is collected, government databases, evaluations, street counts, and even the popular media. This section sets the stage for understanding much of the information that follows throughout future chapters. In order to understand homelessness in Canada, from the street to the classroom, we must first understand where our information comes from.


  1. In the final section we consider the important question, ‚ÄúWhy does homelessness prevention matter?‚ÄĚ If, in fact, we as a society were able to prevent homelessness this book would stop here. Throughout this section, you will learn about the prevention initiatives that are currently underway in Canada and are invited to consider the potential impact that could result if prevention were made a societal priority.


As you move through this chapter it is beneficial to keep in mind that homelessness is rarely an individual choice, but rather results from circumstances in a person’s life that are often beyond their control. You are encouraged to work through this material with an open mind about what you read, hear, and see, even if (or particularly if) it contradicts previous stereotypical images that might have shaped your perceptions about homelessness and homeless people. Read on to learn more about what homelessness means, how we gather information about it, and why we all would benefit from shifting our collective focus towards prevention.


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Understanding Homelessness in Canada Copyright © 2022 by Kristy Buccieri, James Davy, Cyndi Gilmer, and Nicole Whitmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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