100 year-old Babs walked with her family in Nanaimo during the Coldest Night of the Year 2021. She was the oldest walker in CNOY21 across Canada!

100 year-old Babs walked with her family in Nanaimo during the Coldest Night of the Year 2021. She was the oldest walker in CNOY21 across Canada!

When the weather outside is frightful, Nanaimo residents raise money for those without homes

Annual Coldest Night of the Year returns in February 2022 with hybrid in-person and virtual event

At this time of year, images of cosy families snuggled up at home are almost inescapable. If you’re curled up with loved ones right now in a warm, dry home, you’re probably feeling pretty lucky. And if you’re missing family or that stable home, this time of year can feel especially hard.

Residents of Nanaimo and Oceanside definitely believe ‘there’s no place like home,’ and they’ve proved it year after year by donating time and money to help neighbours facing homelessness and precarious housing. In February 2021, the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser for Island Crisis Care Society was fully virtual, and organizers worried that nobody would participate — but participants rose to the occasion.

“Wow, were we surprised! Not only did we see more participation than ever before, CNOY Nanaimo 2021 exceeded our fundraising goal by a whopping 20 percent!” says Elspeth Erickson, with Island Crisis Care Society. “Even when we can’t get together in person, people still care about one another and really want to make a difference in our community.”

February 2022’s walk is planned as a hybrid event — those who prefer to participate on their own or in small teams can sign up to do the walk any time in the month of February, while those who prefer to participate in a collective event can meet on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 in Maffeo Sutton Park for group walk along either a 2 km or 5 km route.

“Coldest Night of the Year is a Canada-wide walk and fundraiser, aimed to build community and help people think about issues of homelessness and precarious housing. It’s intended to allow participants to experience a very small sliver of what it is like to be in the cold — and on Vancouver Island, in the rain! — while raising money for important programs.”

This year’s CNOY toque is bright yellow with a rainbow patch, denoting the sunshine and hope despite the winter’s cold. The packing box is a reminder of how lucky we are if we really have a home, and don’t have to fit all our possessions into just one box.

This year’s CNOY toque is bright yellow with a rainbow patch, denoting the sunshine and hope despite the winter’s cold. The packing box is a reminder of how lucky we are if we really have a home, and don’t have to fit all our possessions into just one box.

This year’s iconic CNOY toques are bright yellow with a rainbow patch, signifying hope despite winter’s cold, and the theme of the walk is ‘No Place like Home.’ You might notice cardboard moving boxes on posters and social media too.

“Many of us know what it means to put our stuff in boxes and move homes — but what if we had to put everything we owned into just one box, and carry it with us? It is a powerful reminder of how lucky we are if we really have a home,” Erickson says.

Every community’s CNOY event is spearheaded by a local agency, and Island Crisis Care Society is honoured to have had that role for 10 years in Nanaimo, and more recently, in Parksville/Oceanside. 80 per cent of the funds raised at this year’s event will go to programs for people who have experienced homelessness and adversity including Emergency Shelter, Assisted Living, Supportive Recovery, Supportive Housing, Transitional Housing and Outreach Support, Subsidized Housing and a new program, Project Rise, which offers pre-employment training to allow people to move beyond the hardship of their past to a more independent, hope filled future.

To participate, register in advance at https://cnoy.org/location/nanaimo. If your business would like to step up and sponsor the event to help make a change in our community, email development@iccare.ca for more information.

Charity and DonationsHousing and Homelessness