Polite Canada Logo

Sharing warmth, hope and smiles around Christmas

Unsung Heroes of Canada

According to popular estimates, between 150,000 to 300,000 people experience homelessness each year. There are multiple reasons resulting in homelessness as people are trying to cope with rising prices for almost everything, including basic needs such as shelter. New tent encampments spring up across Canada regularly – homelessness is an issue, however, when it comes to the time around Christmas and the holiday season, the whole situation becomes even more disappointing. We bring to you some inspiring stories from across Canada, where some Polite Canadians have been doing their part to offer moments of happiness and the feeling of belonging to society’s most vulnerable.

Ottawa, Ontario –

For three years, Segetlab “Ziggy” Haile, the founder of Protect the Rise, has been organizing Christmas dinners for Ottawa’s most vulnerable. On Christmas Eve, Haile hosted a Christmas dinner for three hundred vulnerable souls. For over a month, Haile and his team of volunteers were preparing for the Christmas Eve dinner in the space above the Zesty Market convenience store downtown. These dinners are organized free of cost by the community group called Protect the Rise for homeless people living in the city’s downtown core. The space has become a drop-in place for the homeless to receive clothing and items they may need, all supplied by donations.

Vancouver, BC –

Every Sunday, volunteers with The Three Links Care Foundation prepare free meals for the underprivileged in Vancouver’s Fairview neighbourhood. In addition to the free breakfast every Sunday, clothing and used cell phones are provided to patrons for free. The president of the foundation, Walter Wells, says that it is the way people are treated that keeps bringing them back every week and that the foundation is trying its best to support community members in any way it can. On Christmas Eve, the volunteers at the foundation served dozens of free meals to the homeless in Vancouver.

Fredericton, New Brunswick-

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, Lisa Paul handed out 130 Christmas dinners to the homeless population on Boxing Day. Lisa herself is no stranger to the struggles of homelessness and addiction – she lost her two brothers Anthony and Josh to addiction and homelessness. Anthony died in 2019, and Josh passed away on Boxing Day last year. Amid her grief, Lisa decided to take action and give back on Josh’s death anniversary by helping homeless people in Fredericton.

Nova Scotia –

On Christmas Day, a group of Nova Scotian restaurants and local charities offered free meals to people who cannot afford to cook one themselves — or simply do not want to be alone during the holidays. 

The CEO of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, Michelle Porter, said that they are preparing for one of their largest events across the province with five hundred free Christmas dinners set to be served across Halifax, Truro, Lower Sackville, Bridgewater, and Eastern Shore. There are other places across Nova Scotia offering free meals including Hope Cottage, Kairos in Spryfield and Halifax, Margaret’s House, and Feeding Others of Dartmouth. Each year, Debbie Phinney, the owner of Staggers Pub & Grub in Dartmouth, hosts a Christmas meal for anyone who is away from home or cannot afford a meal.

North Delta, BC –

Every Christmas, Erin Schulte from North Delta, BC, gathers thousands of cards handwritten by Canadians to brighten up the holidays for the homeless. This Christmas, Erin also got the students at Seaquam Secondary School in Delta, B.C., to create Christmas cards with heartfelt warm wishes and handed them out to people who are homeless. This is a part of her initiative called the Christmas Card Collective. Three years ago, Erin started the Christmas Card Collective, sending a few hundred cards to local shelters. Over the years, thousands have joined her initiative and now shelters across Alberta, Ontario, Seattle and even Los Angeles are asking for warm cheerful Christmas cards.

Abbotsford, BC –

For the tenth year in a row, Abbey Road Taphouse and Restaurant in Abbotsford, BC, invited the whole community into their doors and served a complimentary Christmas lunch. While other major commercial establishments are closed on Christmas day, TJ Gill and his staff at Abbey Road Taphouse and Restaurant open their doors to the homeless and those away from their families. The entire Gill family works together along with other volunteers to spread hot meals and smiles amongst the less privileged on the day of Christmas.

We congratulate these polite Canadians for their unwavering and selfless support towards the vulnerable and less fortunate. If you know of more noble initiatives across Canada, please let us know and we would like to feature and recognize them!