M: Good to meet you Laura, Do you call Regina home?
L: Yup. This is my home. I lived here most of my life. I lived on the reserve for a while. Had my family here. Got one brother, one sister. Still here. They all live in the city. I don’t have a big family. I was homeless a couple of years ago and even though my family is still in the city I didn’t bother with them. They would see me, they would take me home once in a while. But I would leave because I had addictions. I was an alcoholic. I had a rough life. And to this day I still live a rough life. Even though I live with my daughter and have my own home. I’m in and out of the hospital all the time cuz of my liver. Damaged, very damaged from alcohol. Sometimes I still go out drinking and I don’t know why but I do. And when I do that I don’t go home, I live out on the streets. I have street friends out there that keep me safe. I’m not exactly alone and scared and whatnot. Not like the first time. I was crying. Scared. I had no place to stay. Sleeping out at night. Wintertime. That was no fun. Sleeping under a Christmas tree trying to stay warm. I’m slowly building up to where I want to be
M: It’s a slow process. I’m encouraged to hear you’re on your way
L: Yeah I was sick for a while. Like I had a walker. In pain. I could hardly walk. Even when I came here. Carmichael is a good place. It’s like a second home to me. I know everybody. Family, someone to talk to. They helped me find a place but my one friend screwed it up. And we got kicked out. He got me out of a good place and we were back on the street. I looked at him and was like, well are you going to help me find a home now. I was left all by myself then. And it was kind of hard to get back on my feet again. I just turned back into a drunk and I didn’t care. I got sick. I almost died. I ended up in ICU. My oldest didn’t like me when I was drinking. We are starting to get close again. My daughter is struggling cuz she has to raise three kids all by herself. She goes to work and she can’t make ends meet. Try to pay the power bill and this or that. I help out whatever I can, my little cheque of welfare I get. And I give it to her and I buy the food or whatever they need. I worry about my grandkids. As long as my grandkids have food and a shelter over their heads, that’s all I care. Sometimes they run out of food. Sometimes I have to go back out on the street and I panhandle. I have to swallow my pride and tell people that I’m hungry and I’m homeless and I have grandkids that need food. It takes me a while to ask people for money. It’s hard. It’s hard to live that kind of life. I’m not ashamed anymore. I have to do what I have to do to survive. And for my grandkids and my family.
To help people like Laura please visit www.carmichaeloutreach.ca or www.maybelldevelopments.com and consider donating or volunteering today.