LETTER: A fine balance in Nelson’s downtown

From reader Mari Plamondon

Profit over people. It’s a fine balance. What are businesses to do when faced with this challenge? I guess it’s all about individual priorities. For us, Jim and I, owning Wait’s News has been an eye-opening experience. One I am truly grateful for and humbled by.

I have learned so much in the last nine years from so many different people. Last week it was brought to my attention that there was a person sleeping on the sidewalk at the side of our business. He was sitting up but with his head down on his knees. My first response was, “Is he okay? Does he need something?”

So I went out to check, took him a glass of water. The question then arose, don’t you think that this affects your business? Did you see the way people were looking at him? I had not noticed how people looked at him, nor would I try and guess what they saw. Were they showing compassion or disgust? Who knows?

I do know there are people in Nelson who will not come to our place because of “those people” who hang out on the corner. I also know there are people who come specifically because we do try to help where we can. Homelessness, mental health and substance use problems are varied and multifaceted. It is complicated. Many people have been failed by systems, families, situations, you name it. However, the bottom line is that illness has a cause. If the illness were cancer, Parkinson’s, or MS, most people’s response would be much more compassionate.

We choose to treat everyone with respect and dignity as all humans deserve. There is no judgement, no stigmatizing, no criticism.

As I go home to my hot dinner and crawl into my warm cozy bed, I can be grateful for all that I have, and I can choose to share that as best as I can, to hopefully make someone else’s life a little more tolerable.

Mari Plamondon


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