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Let’s Change the Conversation: An Open Letter to the Community

Our community is filled with residents who want to build a stronger, more inclusive, and kinder North Bay and Nipissing District. Our local news outlets and social media regularly feature stories about members of our community who rise to the occasion and help those in need. 

We’ve seen food distributed to those struggling with homelessness; clothing and food drives to help at-risk households; and initiatives to clean up litter from our streets. Just recently we have seen the launch of an important campaign by the Nipissing District Homelessness and Housing Partnership that challenges us to “See the Person,” and recognize the humanity of those who may be struggling. Volunteers and supporters of these important initiatives come from all different backgrounds and life experiences, including members of our community who are struggling with homelessness and mental health challenges themselves. 

While there are many of these positive stories, too often we see the public conversation point to those in our community who are struggling with homelessness and mental health as the cause of crime and economic hardship. Simply put, this view is misguided and further stigmatizes those who are struggling.

The North Bay Police Service, through its crime data analysis work, can state that individuals struggling with homelessness are much more likely to be the victims of violent crime than they are to commit violent crimes. 

We share the concern for our community that placing undue blame on individuals who are already at risk does nothing to help build the stronger, safer, more prosperous community that we all want to see.

Instead, let’s think about what we can do ourselves to improve the situation. Sometimes that is as easy as dialing 2-1-1 and helping connect a friend or loved one to the services they need. You can also help by volunteering with local support services to help those in need or simply supporting those who are suffering with kindness and empathy.

Knowing who to call in specific circumstances is also important. If someone is experiencing a crisis and is at risk of doing imminent harm to themselves or others, call 9-1-1. However, if someone is facing challenges but is not a threat to their own or others’ safety, 2-1-1 can help connect you to our support services. That’s why we’re speaking up. We want you to know who you can turn to if you or someone you know needs help.

Some of the support services in our community include:

District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board

  • Employment programs & temporary financial assistance through Ontario Works
  • Early learning, child care, and other support services for families
  • Social and affordable housing programs to support those at risk or struggling with homelessness

Canadian Mental Health Association, North Bay and District (formerly Nipissing Mental Health Housing and Support Services)

  • Healthy Community Ambassadors (street outreach team)
  • Mental health, addiction and justice services
  • Addictions treatment and support 
  • Housing and peer support programs

Low Income People Involvement of Nipissing (LIPI)

  • Assists low-income and vulnerable individuals and families who are struggling with or at risk of homelessness

Crisis Centre North Bay

  • Operates Four Elms 24/7 Shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and provides housing supports
  • Provides overnight services at the Low-Barrier Shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness and who may also  be struggling with Mental Health and Addictions 

The Gathering Place

  • Provides meals to residents of apartment complexes and seniors’ buildings in North Bay, as well as in West Nipissing and Mattawa. 
  • Works with organizations such as OutLoud, Children’s Aid Society, ACT, CMHA, and True Self to provide meals to those in need. 
  • Provides toiletries and summer and winter Survival Kits. 

AIDS Committee of North Bay and Area

  • Provides outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic to support people in encampments with food supplies, harm reduction supplies, safer sex materials, clothing and camp supplies, as well as other support services, including brief counseling services. 
  • Provide food security support through food programming and donations provided by community members including Starbucks, Shoppers Drug Mart and Food Basics. 
  • Work to assist with finding housing and liaising with landlords and community agencies to try to keep people in existing housing. This includes the creation of a new program -- the Housing Programming Pilot recently approved for funding support by DNSSAB -- that provides on-site wrap-around care and services. 
  • Provides health care support including testing for HIV/HCV, STBBIs and referrals for other needed care

Nipissing Service Collaborative 

  • A resource that provides a comprehensive list of local service providers, beyond those listed above. It can be accessed at:

It’s time to change the conversation. Instead of talking about what’s going wrong in our community, let’s all take action to help make it right.

When we all do our part, we can more easily and effectively resolve issues in our community and get needed help to our friends and neighbours who are struggling.


Al McDonald


City of North Bay


Scott Tod

Chief of Police

North Bay Police Service


Mark King


District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board


Mary Davis

District Chief Executive Officer 

Canadian Mental Health Association North Bay and District 

Let’s Change the Conversation: An Open Letter to the Community