Five days (and cold nights) to help fight homelessness

- March 28, 2014

5 Days for the Homeless participants Andrew Quinlan and Emily McAughey, camping outside the Rowe Building earlier this month. (Danny Abriel photo)
5 Days for the Homeless participants Andrew Quinlan and Emily McAughey, camping outside the Rowe Building earlier this month. (Danny Abriel photo)

With a second wave of winter hitting Halifax this March, many students chose to stay warm at home – but a few Dal students chose just the opposite.

From March 9-14, five Commerce students — Emily McAughey, Katie Flanagan, Andrew Quinlan, Devon Bate and Hima Merdan — braved the cold weather to raise money and awareness about homelessness. As part of the Canada-wide 5 Days for Homeless Campaign, the students spent their days and nights outside the Rowe building for a first-hand experience of the reality that millions of people across the world face every night.  

In Canada alone, the numbers concerning homelessness are alarming. There are roughly 30,000 Canadians who are homeless on any given night, and over 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness at some point in any given year. The 5 Days Campaign, founded by the University of Alberta's School of Business in 2005, is the contribution of university students to support the youth at risk who account for more than half of these statistics.

While provinces including Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta have had several participating universities over the years, Dalhousie is the first school to bring the campaign to the East Coast. The Commerce Society undertook the initiative following a collaborative conference where the 5 Days campaign was promoted by other universities.

Good cause, high spirits

To accurately simulate homelessness, the rules of the campaign state that students have only a pillow and a sleeping bag, can only use public washroom facilities and are only able to consume food or drinks that are received through donation. Emily McCaughey, chairperson of Dal's 5 Days Campaign, said they were lucky enough to have ample food donations and support from both the university community and the community of Halifax.

Despite enduring a snow storm, a day and night of rain, and heavy Halifax winds, the students remained in high spirits. The campaign was closed on March 14 at 4 p.m. by Dean Peggy Cunningham, who had also joined the sleepers to kick off the event. The students were proud to announce they surpassed their fundraising goal of $1,000 and have raised more than $3,200 to date. All proceeds will go the Phoenix, a non-profit, community-based organization which offers shelter for at-risk youth.

Donations can be made until the end of March at


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