Homelessness in Canada and America: A Road Trip

06/05/2011 02:21 pm ET | Updated Aug 05, 2011

Several months ago, Tim Richter, President & CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, flew me into Calgary, Alberta, to speak at their homeless services conference. It was a really amazing event and I was honored to be there. I didn't know, however, how much the event was going to change my life.


The last two years I have road-tripped across America. The journey has been amazing; affecting real change at the national and community level. Literally, people who were once homeless slept inside last night because of's road trips. There are lots of people that drive/walk/bike for homelessness and they are all needed to keep awareness going.

But something Scott Harrison once said to me has stuck: "awareness is not enough." What I do different is I use social media and YouTube to empower homeless people to tell their own stories. These road trips are not about me, they are about Rashid, Jean and her kids, Popcorn, Luke, and all the wonderful people I meet that are experiencing homelessness.

I really wasn't going to do a big road trip this year for a few reasons. Mostly, I thought skipping a year would help with momentum. I didn't want these road trips to turn into a '59th Annual Road Trip' and people get used to them. I am all about trying to get people to not be used to things like poverty and homelessness.

Plus, in 2012, the Invisible People Movie will be released. There will be an outreach campaign with the movie so I figured I'd be on the road again. I just felt like this year I should do a few short trips. I was even looking at international travel to England and Australia. But that all changed.

When I got off the stage in Calgary, a very nice man, Barry Davidson, Chair of Calgary's Community Action Committee, came up and asked if I would drive around Canada this summer. Barry then went on to say that the Canada will help subsidize part of the cost. "ARE YOU SERIOUS" I thought to myself, and the man was. My friends up north have not only come up with the seed money to get the road trip started, they are supporting this tour like I have never seen. When communities rally miracles happen, and looks like the whole country is going to rally. The possibilities are endless.

My friends up north have not only come up with the seed money to get the road trip started, they are supporting this tour like I have never seen. When communities rally, miracles happen, and it looks like the whole country is going to rally. The possibilities are endless.

I really cannot explain it. I wish I could. There is something amazing happening in Canada. The first sign was when the CBC news show "Connect With Mark Kelley" interviewed me. Then there was the miracle night in Calgary where the community rallied to get Donny into housing, and Terry found his lost brother of 33 years, so when he died, he was with family and in a home. I was even given a Blackfoot name during a Blackfoot naming ceremony -- a true honor! All this has happened before the tour even starts.

I was really only going to travel around Canada, then GMC lent me this AWESOME Terrain to cruise in style, Murphy Oil has offered gas while traveling in the States, and McDonalds provided gift cards (We still need travel sponsors and sponsors for socks. Please email roadtrip [at] invisiblepeople [dot] tv for info). So now I am driving from Los Angeles and back to Los Angeles. I am so grateful for the help, but what's cooler than the car, gas and Happy Meals, is the relationship of support. This year, more than ever, I feel like there is a team behind me. This year, more than ever, we are going to effect real change and fight homelessness all around North America.

Here is a list of cities (subject to change)

  • San Jose
  • Eugene
  • Seattle
  • Victoria
  • Vancouver
  • Kelowna
  • Calgary
  • Lethbridge
  • Edmonton
  • Whitehorse
  • Yellowknife
  • Fort McMurry
  • Saskatoon
  • Regina
  • Winnipeg
  • Thunder Bay
  • Sault Ste. Marie
  • Detriot
  • Toronto
  • Goose Bay
  • Ottawa
  • Montreal
  • Quebec
  • Hailfax
  • St John's
  • Bangor
  • Boston (speaking at Social Media Summit)
  • Binghamton
  • Cleveland
  • Indianapolis
  • Kanas City
  • Fayatteville
  • El Dorado
  • Los Angeles (speaking at BlogWorld)
WOW! Just typing that list was overwhelming. If you have a homeless story in Canada and you'd like me to visit please email: tim [at] calgaryhomeless [dot] com. For U.S. stories please email: roadtrip [at] invisiblepeople [dot] tv. Since GM provided me with a "mobile office" I am working on creating a landing page that will have a dashboard camera so you all can ride along with me.

I really don't have words to describe what I am feeling right now. Kind of a huge dose of gratitude and fear all at once. Each time I start planning something like this I think I am insane. But the impact has been huge. There is no turning back now.

Over the last few years I have so many of you to thank for supporting not only me but our continued fight against homelessness. I have stated this from day one; is not me -- it is us -- all of us! The only way to fight poverty and homelessness is by working together and trying new things. I honestly believe we can end homelessness. If I didn't, I wouldn't fight so hard to make it happen. I also believe, although not your conventional way of doing things, will play an even bigger roll in this fight against homelessness. Much of the impact may not even be seen as I inspire traditional organizations to start embracing change.

Even though this year's American and Canadian Road Trip will be the biggest with the most impact to date, we have only just begun, all thanks to you and your continued support.