(a one-of-a-kind "Pandemic Pageant")
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When the pandemic shut down live theatre last year, the cast of The Christmas Story took to the streets of Toronto to create a one-of-a-kind "Pandemic Pageant".
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The Church of the Holy Trinity
The Church of the Holy Trinity is a community of people who express Christian faith through lives of integrity, justice and compassion. We foster lay leadership, include the doubter and marginalized, and challenge oppression wherever it may be found. We are involved in and develop work in many areas from music to homelessness, lunch to refugees. Caring is given and received in an atmosphere which links faith to today’s issues.
The work Holy Trinity does is wide ranging but over the course of the pandemic we have focused on homelessness. You will see the encampment in this year’s show and we wanted to share some context about the community.
The Toronto Homeless Memorial is an anchor within our campus. Every second Tuesday of the month we host a memorial for the lives lost to the streets, and call for action on social housing, harm reduction and an end to the criminalization of the poor. It's presence helps to guide our work and mission, to offer a radical welcome to all who need it, and to lift up the oppressed in whatever way we can.
During COVID-19, our campus has become a hub for grassroots community relief efforts. We remained open to serve the hundreds of individuals who came to our doors looking for support. We gathered a network of faith and community groups to prepare and serve 200 meals a day, in addition to warm clothing, hygiene equipment, and survival supplies. Eventually a large encampment grew around our church of individuals searching for safety and shelter. We worked with our community leaders to ensure that all who came to Holy Trinity found the support they needed even in face of threats of eviction and harassment from authorities. With our colleagues at Women's College Hospital, and Anishnawbe Health, we were able to provide the first on-site COVID-19 testing for street-involved individuals, setting the best practices for our City's pandemic response. We were also able to support a variety of outreach groups, supplying them with food, PPE, supplies and a home base for their efforts across the city.
Along with meeting physical needs, we were able to support the emotional, mental and spiritual needs of our community during this time with in-house crisis counselling, and by supporting our street-involved community in creating their own outreach projects- serving meals, providing first aid, system navigation and harm reduction across the downtown core.
This work continues today, and with a dedicated team of volunteers we maintain our community outreach kitchen that serves upwards of 100 people per day. Along with our colleagues at Sherbourne Health Bus, we are providing basic healthcare and referral on site each friday. We work to support the determination and the needs of our downtown community, by continuing to hold space, provide the necessities, and deliver access to counselling and companionship through the best and worst parts of life. All of this is possible through our collaboration across faith and community groups, that each bring their own gifts to our whole together.