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New video highlights root causes of homelessness

'I just want more people to participate in the conversation,' said Oak Tree Project co-founder, Will Mactaggart
20220502 Oak Tree 7 AD
One of the five videos from Oak Tree 7, featuring Will Mactaggart, left, and Dominica McPherson from Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination.

A new video project is shining a light on homelessness in Guelph. 

The charitable Oak Tree Project is back and going in a new direction this year with Oak Tree 7. Instead of requesting stories from within the community, Oak Tree 7 is sharing stories from experts and community members who have knowledge, experience and solutions around homelessness. 

Residents can watch those five stories online at Information and conversation starters for each video can be found at the same website.

The Oak Tree Project began back in 2014, to empower Guelph and Wellington charities with funds and stories about their impact. To learn more about Oak Tree Project, click here.

The concept for the videos, created by Guelph's Ward 1 Studios, is the result of a two year journey learning about homelessness taken by Oak Tree Project co-founders Will Mactaggart and Mike Hryn.

"It's such a complex issue, homelessness, the idea to focus on homelessness really took shape during the pandemic," said Mactaggart. 

Seeing how COVID impacted the homeless and small businesses that were deemed 'unessential,' Mactaggart said COVID made him and Hryn realize that homelessness was something they needed to shine more light on through the Oak Tree Project.

"There was a need to help people to understand the root causes," said Mactaggart. "These conversations are a natural genesis. I'm very pleased with the results."

He hopes those who watch the videos will recognize, humanize and emphasize with individuals who are experiencing homelessness.

"I just want more people to participate in the conversation," said Mactaggart. "Even if you help one person, that is still one person helped."

To go along with the videos, Mactaggart and Hryn have also raised $50,000 to give to Wyndham House. A release said the money will go to fund a specialized social worker who works directly with youth struggling with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse concerns. This worker also supports youth dealing with unstable housing or homelessness.