Bio and Experience
Dion Oxford is a Jesus follower first and foremost. Before ending up unable to work due to health complications, his most recent job was as the Mission Strategist for The Salvation Army's homeless shelters in downtown Toronto, called Housing and Homeless Supports. Before that he was the founding director of the Salvation Army Gateway; a shelter for men experiencing homelessness. Dion, along with his wife Erinn and daughter Cate, live in Toronto and are committed to journeying alongside people in the margins of society. He spent more than 25 years working among folks who are living on or close to the streets of Toronto.
Dion is now a certified spiritual director and regularly meets with people who want to talk about their lives through a spiritual lens.
Dion also lives with Multiple Sclerosis. He can no longer walk so uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. He is an advocate on behalf of people in the margins of society, and is an accomplished public speaker on the topic of housing, homelessness and disabilities. He likes to read, rant, write, watch TV, play and listen to music, and hang out with his friends. He and his wife see the solution to homelessness as taking seriously the 2 great commandments of loving God and loving our neighbour.
A Voice for People Experiencing Homelessness and/or disabilities
Over 25 years of working with folks who are homeless in Canada
Authority and regular speaker/writer on issues of poverty, housing, homelessness and disabilities.
Featured in The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, CBC TV and radio, and in the National Film Board documentary, Salvationist.
Advocate for the poor
“After spending the bulk of my adult life working with people who are far below the poverty line, I have concluded that poverty issues in our society have almost nothing to do with money and almost everything to do with our culture’s almost complete lack of understanding of what the word ‘community’ really means. As a result, vulnerable people are being left behind.”
Proponent of community capacity development
“I’ve learned the hard way over time that if all we ever ask someone is ‘What do you need?’ that person will think of themselves as needy. This often creates an attitude of entitlement and codependence, which is ultimately a deep form of oppression and injustice. When we ask, ‘What can you give?’ a person begins to remember they have value and have the capacity to participate meaningfully in their community.”
On the “changing face of homelessness” in Canada
“Research shows that 35,000 people on any given day are homeless in Canada. More than half of the people that we see in our shelters are people who are experiencing short-term homelessness. This should be a startling statistic for anyone. What it means is that the housing and job markets are so fragile that many people experiencing homelessness in Canada today are those who simply cannot find the means to pay the rent.”
On Multiple Sclerosis
“I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me!”
- Close to 100,000 Canadians have MS, the highest per capita of any country in the world by far
- MS is most often diagnosed in young adults, aged 15 to 40, but can affect younger children and older adults
- MS is unpredictable and can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility
- There is no cure for MS