Identifying the Community We Serve

When we think of homelessness, the inability to obtain and hold onto identification (ID) isn’t normally one of the barriers you would connect. Yet for the community that we serve, it is one of the larger stepping stones to a better life down the road.

Without ID, you cannot rent or buy a home, get a job, or apply for old age security (OAS). For our guests, it means even more: they cannot apply for low-income supports or fair entry fee assistance.

Our Wellness Centre advocates witness on a daily basis the struggle our clients experience to obtain and hold onto ID. It’s a vicious cycle that can take several months.

Mustard Seed Advocate, Donna, says it can be “expensive and difficult to get when you have no ID to prove who you are.” She explained that one of the things they can do as advocates is take copies (of the ID) so it’s easier to recover.

To apply for Alberta government ID, you need to prove:

  • You have the right to reside in Canada
  • You have obtained a permanent address for at least 90 days
  • You have the funds to pay for it

This usually means you have to present a birth certificate. If that is lost, it could add several more weeks to the already lengthy process.

We helped 152 guests access ID services at our event

On September 18, our Wellness team partnered with five Calgary community service agencies to host The Mustard Seed’s Identifying Hope ID Fair. In only a few hours, we had 152 individuals attend the event.

Through acceptance, empowerment, and practical solutions, we were a one-stop-shop for people finding themselves trapped in poverty’s vicious cycle and in need of government ID.

The agencies who attended were New Urban Registry, Calgary Legal Guidance (who issued 90 affidavit IDs), Hedkandi salon (who gave 50 guests haircuts), Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (who issued 39 status applications with photos), Sheldon Chumir ID program (who saw 15 people about starting the process for AB government photo ID), and an Alberta Health Services health & dental clinic (who had 20 interactions).

“Though it might not be part of my official job description, the ID Fair, and helping people in our community get ID, are things that have become very important to me and all New Urban staff,” said Beth, Assistant Manager of community partner New Urban Registry.

Tronnes implemented a GoFundMe page for last years’ fair, and again this year which raised an exciting $1,465. The funds will provide approximately 100 ID’s for people experiencing homelessness and/or poverty.

We did it

Together, we broke down obstacles and barriers and became that point of entry for anyone in need of proper government ID. By helping people recover their identity, we empower them to take the next step out of poverty and homelessness, and towards independence and wellness.