Home Safe Calgary (2008)

"I don't ever want to go back to being homeless. I'd rather try to do something to prevent that happening because everybody deserves their own place to call home."
-Delilah, age 12

It is estimated that there are currently 22,500 children in Canada who are homeless.  Home Safe Calgary is the first of four documentaries from SkyWorks that focus on children and families who experience poverty and homelessness. It reveals the contrast between the promise of Calgary’s booming economy and the vulnerability of those who seek a place in it - where even parents with decent-paying jobs are unable to put a roof over their family’s heads.

Home Safe Calgary was researched and produced with the children and parents who appear in the film. It reflects their experience and thoughts about what it will take to end homelessness in their city. It will challenge audiences to shift from sympathy and charity to advocating for affordable housing and adequate shelter systems.

The Home Safe project is led by award-winning filmmaker Laura Sky, and by author, advocate and Street Nurse Cathy Crowe.

The Participants

Delilah shares her experience of shelter life, the consequences of homelessness on her family life, her school life, her friendships, and her dreams. She is remarkably thoughtful and compassionate and as a result of her homelessness, she came to recognize and challenge her own prejudices. She challenges us to do the same.

Tasha is Delilah's committed mother who, like other parents we meet in the film, tries to absorb the effects of homelessness on her children. She protects them from the despair of their homelessness, infuses them with optimism, and reminds them that they are still a family, but temporarily living with other people.

Rowan is also 12. He is bright, articulate, and Delilah's very good friend. They have both been teased by school mates, lived through similar hardships, and those experiences have sustained their friendship. Rowan has an analysis of the causes of homelessness in Calgary, and some pretty clear ideas about solutions.

His mother, Jen, is a mother bear, a smart, clear-minded woman, wise in the ways of surviving poverty and what she and Rowan call financial homelessness. Jen home-schools Rowan and his education includes issues of justice and fairness.

The Discovery House Girls Group includes three 5 and 6 year-olds who together draw and play out their experiences of homelessness. Each of their mothers is seeking refuge from violent relationships. Their children's play and self-expression reflects their longing for security and safety and reaches out to all of us.

Their moms talk about their experience of good sheltering, as the staff and programs at Discovery House help them to rebuild their lives. They talk about the "shelter gridlock" in Calgary that inhibits families from transitioning from shelter settings to affordable housing.

At Discovery House we also meet an 8 year-old boy who plays and talks, wishing he could build a very big house for people who are homeless and poor, starting with his family. His mom just wants a place in the Calgary community without being judged or discriminated against as a single mother in economic hardship.

Darla and Kaitlan are young single moms, whose children are under 2. Their supportive friendship helps them to rebuild their lives. Each has gone back to school, and each is committed to building secure and safe lives for their daughters. They fight discrimination daily - from their own families, their peers, and their communities.