The 2013 Homelessness Marathon.

News  Homelessness Marathon broadcast aims to raise consciousness


February 25 will mark the beginning of the 2015 Homelessness Marathon, a 14-hour-long radio broadcast starting at 5 p.m. and lasting until 7 a.m.. Airing on nearly forty campus and community stations across Canada, the broadcast will be hosted by CFRC radio at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. McGill-based CKUT will be one of the stations airing the marathon and raising awareness of the event.

“The idea of the marathon is really to engage a broad discussion across the country about the deeper issues of homelessness and housing,” CKUT Community News coordinator Aaron Lakoff told The Daily.

The initiative began in 1998 in Geneva, New York, with the goal of raising awareness about the housing and homelessness crisis in the U.S.. CKUT brought it to Canada 13 years ago, and hosted the event for 11 years before passing the torch to Edmonton-based CJSR last year.

“The homelessness crisis is a capitalism crisis.”

This year, CKUT will be broadcasting part of the marathon from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. from the Native Friendship Centre on St. Laurent. A community dinner open to everyone will also take place before the event, starting at 6 p.m. at the same location.

According to Lakoff, the marathon is a consciousness-raising rather than a fundraising broadcast, and as such is intended to challenge “this idea that if you drop a couple of coins into the Salvation Army’s bucket, that’s going to somehow alleviate the problem of homelessness.” Instead, the broadcast will provide an opportunity for people who are homeless and their allies to speak on the radio and, at the same time, allow a nationwide discussion on issues facing people who are homeless and their possible solutions.

“The homelessness crisis is a capitalism crisis,” said Lakoff. “It’s a crisis of our economic system, and it’s going to take a deep discussion and deep action to solve the problem, as well as privileging the voices of people living on the street themselves, who are the best ones to recount their own experience of life on the street.”