TikToks of suffering Regina citizens taken down
Harassing videos were removed, but harm reduction and housing are still desperately needed
CCTV footage of Regina citizens in the throes of personal crises has been set to popular music and turned into supposedly comedic Tiktoks, mocking the suffering in our community. Portraying something so heartbreaking as something funny and trivial demonstrates the ever-existing stigma surrounding addiction, but also the lack of access to proper services that continues to bring Regina down.
The footage, captured by security cameras at various commercial and residential locations in Regina’s downtown, became 11 videos posted to TikTok showing people slouched over, moving in strange ways, laying on the ground, and exhibiting other behaviour associated with houselessness or substance use. These videos show some of the harsh realities of life in our city. But, rather than the tone of seriousness that such a topic demands, these videos are set to the chorus of “I’m a Slave 4 U” by Britney Spears, or other viral TikTok sounds. These videos are evidence of the prevailing stigma toward houselessness, addiction, and human struggles in general.
The 11 videos were removed following backlash from the community. The original poster of the videos, an anonymous tenant not affiliated with any business, told Global News they are remorseful and hope these videos can spread awareness of the reality of Regina’s houselessness and healthcare issues. Regardless of whether anyone finds the videos funny or not, “I think it does need to get brought to light that this is a very raw and real look at what’s going on in the city,” the poster said.
No matter their intention or effect, the poster of those TikToks and the comments made on similar videos seemed to use familiar vocabulary to express their dissatisfaction with the city, whether it be the lack of healthcare services or the out-of-touch administration; several of these videos used the hashtags ‘#experienceregina’ and ‘#seeyqr.’ The use of these hashtags signifies feelings of disapproval and embarrassment toward both the state of housing and healthcare in our city and its ineffective governance and public relations.
How much money lost in the Experience Regina rebrand could’ve gone to housing or harm reduction? Harm reduction sites in Regina rely on crowdfunding and donations; they receive little to no provincial funding. Currently, the City of Regina Catalyst Committee is voting on where to construct a “multi-purpose arena” in the Regina downtown area. The City of Regina is willing to spend likely millions in tax dollars to build a sport and concert arena in the same neighbourhood of the city where people don’t even have proper access to housing or addictions services.
In their apology, the original poster of the videos said “I’m sorry to anyone I hurt by posting the videos but hopefully it brings awareness to the crisis people are in downtown and we can start to change for the better.” While individual accountability is necessary, the addiction, the houselessness and hopelessness, and the abysmal health and living conditions shown in these videos cannot be remedied by citizens alone. When people ‘experience Regina,’ that shouldn’t mean experiencing humiliation instead of help.