Most jurisdictions don’t track deaths of homeless people — but that could soon change

Every day, Sabrina Robichaud rides her bike to a mural she made in downtown Moncton for friends who died struggling with homelessness. She tidies up the area around the fence on Dominion Street where she made the mural, and all too often, she’ll add a new name to the list.

In the weeks since she started the mural, Robichaud has gathered more than 200 names of people she’s learned died over the last several years and who didn’t have places to live. The 29-year-old woman, who doesn’t have a home herself, has also tracked down photos of many people on the list and added them to the mural, so people can see their faces.

“It’s important because it shows that we’re not just numbers,” Robichaud said. “We’re humans. We might have went down the wrong road. We might have went through a lot of trauma, mental health and illness, and different scenarios that put us here. But we are human. We do matter.”

But exactly how many people have died in New Brunswick while experiencing homelessness isn’t clear. The province doesn’t track that specific piece of information, leaving people like Robichaud to try to track the death toll of the opioid crisis and housing crisis that have been unfolding around them.

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