BRAMPTON, ON – Local 20-somethings Brittany McKennah and Lindseigh Tott are showing the world that living out of your van is nothing to be ashamed of, provided you’re hot, rich, and young.
“There is such a stigma around not having a traditional home!” said McKennah in an Instagram story. “We want everyone to know that there are lots of reasons to live in a van, like for aesthetics or your brand.”
“We have a compost toilet in the van that cost $3000. It smells like my old hamster’s cage, so we are forced to use the bathroom at a Panera Bread,” stated Tott, who usually goes live on Insta for these washroo, trips. “The world needs to know that thousands of Canadians everyday pee at Panera Breads and it doesn’t need to be that way.”
The two long-time roommates began living out of their van when their previous landlord and Ms. Tott’s current father sold their unit for non-specific, very legal insurance reasons. Both women had dropped out of university just prior to this and were therefore “too bummed” to look for a new rental unit.
“I’d say the most difficult thing about transition to #vanlife was the shade from our friends and families,” said Tott, “Honestly, just to get away from the judgement, we may decide to be homeless in Europe for a while.”
In the meantime, Ms. McKennah and Ms. Tott have devoted themselves to raising awareness amidst the rampant housing crisis across Canada. Both say they felt a lot of kinship with those being kicked out of tent cities in parks, though not quite enough kinship to attend the protests. “Bachelorette was on those nights,” Ms. Tott said sadly.
“We need to show people that the unhoused truly don’t even have access to basics,” McKennah added. “How are they supposed to collect enough passive income to change their situation if they don’t even have a place to plug in their ring lights?”
Though the vanlife trend may look glamorous on social media, housing experts say it comes with risks and recommend influencers take steps to protect themselves such as posting the incomes of their parents in their windshields so police won’t mistake them for actual impoverished people.
“We have been reaching out to local organizations and businesses to work on destigmatization,” said McKennah. “This kind of community outreach is so rewarding and I have personally gotten at least 10 brand deals out of it.”
Local activist and unhoused person Amanda Torsney said she finds the #vanlife influencers to be pretty generous with their free swag, though she’s not sure what she’s going to do with all the magnetic eyelashes they’ve given her.
“At least they’re not taking up any of the good parking spots,” Torsney added. “They usually park in front of their parents’ place in York Mills.”