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Homelessness Is Not A Costume

Halloween is an exciting time of year for those who celebrate it, but it’s important to keep in mind what message you’re sending with your costume.

In recent years, many marginalized groups have pushed back against people who dress up their culture for the holiday.

A group of students from Ohio University created a campaign titled, We’re A Culture, Not A Costume, that displayed diverse students presenting images of people using their race or culture as a costume.

This impactful series went viral online and continues to be shared every October.

Dressing up as any marginalized group is harmful, and one costume seems to be a perennial last-minute favourite - the homeless hobo.

You probably can imagine the hobo caricature with ragged clothes and all his belongings tied up in a handkerchief on the top of a stick he slings over his shoulder while he thumbs for a ride. Sound familiar? Historically, hobos were men without homes who would ride trains from city to city looking for work.

Once the railroad industry was overshadowed by automobiles, the hobo caricature faded into history, but…


didn’t end there.

On any night, including Halloween, there are 8,000 people in Toronto who are homeless.

They might have the same descriptors: someone in old clothes, possessions stuffed in a bag, standing at an intersection with a sign.

The imagery may have changed, but the need to preserve the dignity of the most vulnerable members of our community remains the same.

There is no need to dress up like a person experiencing homelessness.

It’s unthinkable that anyone would dress up as someone experiencing domestic violence or as a child in extreme poverty.




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