Open Letter from V. Bailey to Cobourg


Northumberland Women is a place where all women within our community are welcomed with open arms. We understand that some of the topics we discuss might stir discomfort in certain hearts. It’s natural for these conversations to evoke a range of emotions – discomfort, anger, sadness, and more. It’s possible that some will remain unaffected, while others might find solace in the fact that steps are being taken.
Regardless of where you stand in this spectrum of emotions, I kindly urge you to dedicate a moment to read a heartfelt letter composed during a time when one of our fellow community women is engaged in a relentless battle for her survival.
I implore you to delve into Virginia Lee Bailey’s open letter, a profound message that deserves to resonate with all of us. In times like these, everyone’s voice holds significance, and this holds especially true for Virginia’s.


I’m now one of the homeless.  

As of Friday, July 28–that joyous day when I was removed from my home.  Given an hour to pack up what I could of my life, not even able to access the boxes or totes or bags ordinarily used to pack up. Given a hotel room to stay in for 72 hours.  Given a prepaid credit card amounting to just under $300. 

Rushed and herded onto the waiting school bus.  We were bussed away from any and all support networks.  All on a weekend, leaving us with the 2-3 hours, on Monday morning, between the start of a work day for most agencies and hotel check out time. Left to scramble for shelter—all because the Town and Police needed to shut up the ignorant. 


Alright.  Enough already.  Please just STOP.  for a few minutes, stop and think.
Think of the people.  The TAX PAYING, VOTING HUMANS that are part of YOUR COMMUNITY.  The people displaced, exhausted, frightened, alone.   Humans that are being denied their human rights. These are the people that “Community Policing at its Finest” has targeted. 

Yes.  It’s true.  Some of us do live with addiction.  It is, undeniably, a very real demon.   One that many battle daily.  However, some of us are simply poor or mentally ill or even just old.  

We are, actually, very much like you.  We are daughters and sons, nephews and nieces. Grandparents and grandchildren. We are business owners, contractors, hairstylists, PSWs, plumbers and electricians. Nurses and respite workers along with carpenters, custodians and ironworkers.  We are paramedics and security guards.  Surveyors, linesmen and heavy equipment operators. Cashiers, tellers, servers and bartenders.  Chefs, estheticians, tattoo artists, musicians and photographers.  General managers, firefighters and masons.

We grew up with you.  Joined the same sports teams and attended the same schools.  We played on the same swings and slid on the same slides.

There are varied reasons we now find ourselves in such vastly different places than you.  Too many to list.  Ranging from the COVID pandemic that cost so many Canadians their jobs to (yes,I know, you’re waiting for it ): addiction.  With mental illness, abandonment, age, the housing crisis and inheritance in between.   

I’m sure there are many of you shaking your head at my “excuses”.  Those of you lacking compassion. The individuals who enjoy the benefits that come with community.  The feelings of belonging and safety. The very same people that actively and purposely ensured so many others were denied the same.  Enjoying the perks while bringing malice, fear and ignorance to a situation that should be handled instead with some social responsibility.  

Consideration.  Compassion, care, and effort, which also are supposed to be part of a community.  That’s fine; you can shake your head and scoff at my words.  I will still be one of many that will accept and care for you sister, son, friend, grandchild, if they ever find themselves lost or alone.  If their community ever decides they just don’t wish to see them any longer.  If they suddenly just aren’t worth anyone’s effort anymore. 

Even if it’s you, reader. Even if you end up alone outside, desperate, or frightened. Still…. I’ll be there to help you find shelter or to share my food, to give you a hand when I’m able, and to lend my shoulder when you can’t stand being alone anymore.  

I’ll help you–so will 21 others who come to mind, and so very many more individuals affected by this crisis. Regardless of the seemingly, hate-driven prejudice shown by ‘Your’ Community, we now can rely on ‘Ours’. We still stand. Together. Strong.  Daily growing together.  

Growing, unfortunately, in numbers as the housing crisis continues but more importantly, growing acceptance, ideas, strength, love, compassion.  Those areas I just can’t see when I look at the vast majority of so-called ‘normal society’.  Instead, I see the majority of self-proclaimed “good” or “decent” or “upstanding folk” escalate your own concerns.  

Reflect on this…

No meetings are being held by the community demanding solutions for their neighbours that have fallen on the hardest of times.  No, instead, this noble community of ours comes together with our local police, meeting to add to the suffering of these same people.  I see you gossiping.  Smiling.  Patting each other on the back as you enjoy this victory.  Happy that finally someone has helped get rid of the eyesore you just can’t stand to look at.  

You can claim it’s not the aesthetics–it’s drugs.  It’s crime.  Come on.  Use your heads.  

We’re talking about real survival now. Did anyone in that meeting stand up and mention the risk of heat stroke, or just a few months from now, the hypothermia… can you even imagine that?  Dying … freezing to death because your fellow Cobourgians didn’t want to look at you.  

You think the best plan to lower crime rates is to take a bunch of already desperate people and put them in a life-or-death kind of desperate situation? Yeah… clever. You believed that the solution to the toxic drug crisis is you removing places that allowed people to remain together. To not use alone.

How is it that you combined so many minds, and dreamed up ways to keep drugs off the streets, by denying safe places? Thus, ensuring that there will, instead, be a whole lot more drugs on the streets. These were your solutions.  

What exactly do you believe about the 6 people you have celebrated adding to the streets? I already don’t understand how the streets are thought to be safer than my home. The home that offers the things that the majority of your community members don’t bother with.  The home that, on the coldest night of the year, when the warming room was short staffed and just closed for the night, welcomed 40 people into my space.  40! But I’m a bad person, right? 

The same police officers hosting your meetings and enforcing evictions have many times relied on our assistance locating missing persons. They have dropped off individuals that were incapacitated–knowing they were safe with us. They have called us, refusing to release people to anyone else–knowing we would care for them.  

My partner has resuscitated at least 28 people–the lives of your neighbours.  But, he’s not a hero, right? No, he’s “just another junkie”, an embarrassment to the community–right?  

Well, I gotta say…

I think that y’all are the embarrassment.  You should be ashamed of your prejudice.  This witch hunt initiated and supported by the good citizens of this community is, in my opinion, really nothing short of a hate crime. It’s been reported that this all began due to my hero attending to another person’s wounds and then calling 911. Yep, his righteousness in helping a seriously injured man led to this.  The same man so many of you drove past as he struggled to make it to the one place he knew was safe.

Yet, others decided in advance what our fate would be. I encourage every person reading this to look up Pete Fisher’s YouTube video of the July 2023 Police Community Meeting that shows the police representative–actually, lets call a spade a spade–make that the Chief of Police , clearly stating that they had already decided to displace the tenants of 413 Division Street. That place was safety to many. Laundry, showers, a place to rest in safety, to escape the effects of exposure, to cook or eat food, to let down their guard. To smile – free from the malicious glares of ‘normal’ Cobourg residents. You go ahead and pat each others’ backs. Feel really accomplished. Excuse me if I don’t shake your hand!

There are of course, exceptions. I know there are people in Cobourg with caring and concerned hearts. Please understand you aren’t the target of my anger. There are also exceptional people that have made social responsibility their calling–without the incredible support we have received from Missy along with David, Marisa, Bronwyn and the others I’m too emotional to recall names of. I thank you.  Without you we would have been completely lost.  My gratitude is beyond words.

Sincerely Yours,
Virginia Lee Bailey 

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