In The Streets, On The Air

Rock Against Racism Raises Funds for Homelessness Broadcast With Doc Screening, Concert

Graphic Paku Daoust-Cloutier

On Feb. 20, you won’t need an FM dial to tune into local radio.

The Homelessness Marathon, now in its 11th year on air, takes on a broad topic in a non-traditional way—by raising awareness about homelessness and the cycle of poverty directly from the people who have first-hand experience with the problem.

To make that national radio broadcast happen, there’s Rock Against Racism, which hopes to raise the $400 needed for gear and supplies for the evening.

A night dedicated to “fun-draising” for the Homelessness Marathon, Rock Against Racism is half dance party, half film screening hosted at Katacombes on Jan. 31.

Montreal political punk rockers BOIDS and Action Sédition will take the stage after the screening; to kick off the night, there’s Squeegee Punks in Traffic, a film that Candice Cascanette, coordinator for the 2013 Homelessness Marathon, hopes will showcase a side of city life alien to most Montrealers.

“It’s a great film focused on the life of one squeegee punk youth in particular. He has a camera and films from his perspective and is followed around by [director Daniel Cross],” Cascanette said.

“It’s just sort of his day-to-day life, where he stays at night, how he’s treated by the cops and his interpersonal relationships. [It’s] a first-hand view of his treatment.”

Underprivileged groups don’t often get a voice in mass media, she said, and the marathon is a unique broadcast that offers an uncensored view of stories that frequently go unreported.

“It’s really rare that you hear first-hand the voices of people living that experience, it’s usually service providers and people talking about statistics on homelessness and new projects,” said Cascanette.

“It’s not aiming to give a soapbox for politicians to talk about their campaign plans, but just about how messed up it is and how people are resisting what they’re living day-to-day.”

Armed with a 1-800 number and portable broadcast centre, the group will be broadcasting from the streets of Montreal for 14 hours of live radio, featuring the voices of anyone who calls the hotline to talk about the reality of homelessness and poverty.

Unlike the usual format of fundraising marathons, the Homelessness Marathon isn’t a charity, and doesn’t aim to raise money.

“It’s entirely meant to be a popular education tool and awareness-raising tool. It doesn’t seek to raise funds and is not a charity at all; it really just seeks to allow people to have their voices heard,” said Cascanette.

Rock Against Racism Montreal, A Benefit for the Homelessness Marathon / Jan. 31 / Co-op Katacombes (1635 St. Laurent Blvd.) / 8:00 p.m. / $6.00 to $10.00 PWYC