Out of the cold / Into the stew

A snowy residential street: bare and snow-laden trees, parked cars, a shoveled gray sidewalk, and frost in the very air
Photos courtesy of the author

Today: Jídé Salawu, writer and editor at Olongo Africa; and Joe MacLeod, Creative Director at INDIGNITY, and author of the column MR. WRONG.

Issue No. 16

Winter and the Unbearable Weight of Migration
Jídé Salawu

Depths of Wikipedia
Joe MacLeod

Winter and the Unbearable Weight of Migration

by Jídé Salawu

In November 2023, a man was found cold dead in a tent in the Greater Toronto Area encampment. I was scrolling through Twitter when his story roused my attention. He was an asylum seeker from Nigeria, and he was unable to keep his tent warm. Most people who are seeking shelter and turned away have to seek other means of surviving the ultracold of Canada once winter begins to settle in, in November, by building tents or makeshift homes, or else seek cover in public spaces like train stations. 

A year before the man died in Mississauga, I read a poem published by my friend, Hussain Ahmed titled, “Homeless.” It was published in the 2022 October edition of The Common. The work focuses on the crisis of placelessness in the United States, as the systemic failure of a government that abandons people to the harrowing conditions of winter. The poem, in its image of “a frozen neighborhood,” where things “got so white and lonely,” resonated largely with my time in the United States.

In 2019, I was traveling through Minneapolis, and encountered the disenchanting sight of homeless men sheltering from the cold in a concrete open space where cars were packed. It became an image that is permanent in my head; when I traveled to Canada for my graduate program, I met people with no access to shelters and the privilege of homes, striving for life and breathing from the mouth, pushing through the heap of snow.

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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