Advocacy News - Canadians offer to billet Americans
November 16, 2004 (updated Nov. 17)
offer to billet Americans
Web site intends to match up potential Canadian billets with Americans who need
a gay-friendly place to stay as they explore permanent housing and job options.
It's only been running for a few days, but already a number of hosts have offered
"Many of our friends south of the border are considering a move to Canada after President George W. Bush's election win," Larry Dickinson writes on his web site GaySpaces.org.
But making such a move can be very daunting. A sampling of this month's mail, and our published report (see Nov. 4), reveals some of the challenges involved. Finding a new job, selecting a town or city to live in, finding a home ... getting settled in can take time and money. For some of our American neighbours, the cost of repeated visits to a target destination can be prohibitive, making it very difficult to make the leap to Canadian justice, equality and freedom.
Housing help may soon be available through Larry's web site. GaySpaces.org was originally established to help individuals, looking for a gay-friendly place to live, meet others who had a room, apartment, or house for sale or rent. The site is divided by province/territory for ease of use.
Canadians have opened their doors to Americans during previous times of trouble, so when our neighbours began asking for help in making the move to our country, GaySpaces.org emerged as a tool for transition. It was only a small step to enhance the web site to include offers of billeting for our American neighbours seeking to immigrate to Canada.
"We're looking for homeowners who would be willing to billet people on a short-term basis while they explore employment and housing options here," GaySpaces says of this free service. "Making this important move may require them to make several visits to their intended town or city. Would you be willing to open your home and billet someone?"
The web site invites Canadians to complete a form and the information will be posed on the site. Americans seeking short-term billeting assistance "while job or house hunting in our country" are asked to email GaySpaces.org. Please indicate what province and city you are interested in.
Although only just launched, the service has already attracted Canadian offers.
"Billeting Available on Vancouver Island near Victoria," one offer is headlined. "Interested in billeting prospective bear immigrants to Canada. Log house on rural mountain overlooking the water. Not on a bus line, so transportation helpful. Site of quarterly gay men's pot-luck."
The host, Mac, offers pictures, information about weddings and his email for more information.
Another host in New Brunswick: "We have space available in our home for a gay single or couple from the U.S. who might be interested in making Fredericton their new home ...."
Offers of help, including temporary accommodation and orientation to a new city/country, can make all the difference to an individual or family looking for a justice and dignity in a strange land.
"We've long had a book on immigrating to Canada, and we have the name of an immigration attorney," Deborah Seaton wrote to us from Arkansas, "but we are so overwhelmed and in shock, that we aren't sure where to go next. I just know we have to make the next step ASAP. I think our window to find a job and a place to live in Toronto is the first week of December. I have to resign, and we have to pack."
Amidst such turmoil, GaySpaces.org offers a real opportunity for Canadians and Americans to work together through this time of need.