Chapter 7: This Is It (CEO Sleepout Tonight)

This is it

The CEO Sleepout is an event intended to engage Winnipeg in a serious and honest conversation on this issue of homelessness. Since August 31st (the day I decided to become involved) I wanted to learn about this experience. Jason, Stefano and the Team at the Downtown BIZ are intelligent, committed and sincere. Many of the CEO participants I have met are open minded and energized. Throughout these blog posts & my one night out I have learned a lot and am sharing it with all of you as I go. Together we can really start to make some positive things happen in the near future. So far, this is what’s been learned:

  • there are over 400 people every single night using the salvation army
  • there are 50+ people sleepout out on portage/Main tonight
  • there is an entire community of individuals who want to work towards a END for homelessness

I know that as of the morning of the event, we have raised $90,000! But we are not at our goal yet! All proceeds of this initiative go towards funding employment programs for homeless/at risk individuals with Graffiti Art Gallery, Red Road Lodge & Siloam Mission. Check out the website to donate!

What Will Happen There?

The details I know so far are that we are to gather Thursday night, and stay all the way til 9 the next morning.

  1. Meet @ Portage/Main at 6pm
  2. Stay all night at portage and main (w/sleeping bags)
  3. Salvation Army (w/food)
  4. Various organizations/speakers visit us throughout event
  5. 7am Wake up (w/coffee & muffins)
  6. 9:00am on Fri Sept 28th there will be  CJOB panel

Overall it sounds like a pleasant event. A little too pleasant…When I spoke with the staff at Red Road Lodge during my last night out he explained first hand what it was like to be transitioning off the streets. Certainly not easy.  The staff at the salvation army explained how people are sleeping on mats, and some spend significantly long amounts of times being homeless. More and more young people are becoming homeless, and are a part of a group called ‘The Hidden Homeless’. I know that this is an opportunity for myself and other leaders in our community to walk with integrity. We have collectively raised awareness of the issue of homelessness, some money, and now I am going to walk the walk.

My Plan for Tonight

Because I want this to be a meaningful experience for myself, I want to spend a night feeling the hard concrete. I will NOT be sleeping in a sleeping bag. I will NOT be accepting any food throughout the entire event. I will NOT make use of any provided bathroom facilities. I will NOT access any provided extra shelter.

End Homelessness in 10 Years

When I am done I want to be able to share my experiences spending an entire night out on the street. I hope to be involved in some meaningful public/private sector partnership that is committed to ENDING HOMELESSNESS in Winnipeg in 10 years. I know there are already many groups/committees doing very important work, but if we set this as a target, I believe we can reallocate resources, change the way we do business and work in a more coordinated way to address the needs of our cities most vulnerable.

If you believe we can do this, join us. If you are critical of what we are doing, join us. If you are interested in showing your support, or sharing your ideas please join us.

Love & Respect


 PS – You can also join us at the Bell Tower on Friday where our anti-violence movement tackles this issue of homelessness at 6pm on Selkirk/Salter!


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