A group of high school students in Campbell River, British Columbia, did something incredible. It seems the government was planning on building supportive housing for folks who were formerly homeless, and the planned building was going to be near the school.

Many in the community were upset – how on earth could you put that group of people near a school? I mean, what might happen?

A grade 12 student at the high school, however, thought it was a good idea. After all, everyone needs to live somewhere, and why not near the school? What difference was it going to make? So the student, Trent Parras, decided to create a poster that said “Welcome to the neighbourhood” and invited other students to sign it. Some 300 of them did. They presented the poster to Q’waxsem Place (the housing project) and it proudly hangs in the lobby.

One of the new neighbours could not help but cry as she noted how wonderful it was to be wanted. “Nobody wanted us, and now they do,” said Rebecca Moerike.

There’s so much beauty in this story, and so much to learn. Rather than panic about who might be moving into the neighbourhood we – all of us – need to find ways to be welcoming. It’s the only way forward.