When someone mentions my past experiences, I am often left unsure of where to start. As someone who moved very frequently, inconsistent living situations never let me attain housing stability. My experience living on the reserve was one of many examples. Rampant alcoholism and other issues which plague many reservations in Canada, made for an unsafe and inhospitable environment.
In the past, I dealt with debilitating substance abuse issues and as a result, day to day life has since been quite challenging. I'm currently struggling to afford medicine, which I need for mental health issues and other general health concerns. Though I was employed with a local healthcare agency for some time, I was forced to take time off due to some of my issues.
The stories below with a Connect Youth badge were part of a campaign focused on providing Vancouver's homeless youth with cellphones. Please note, the images below have been altered to maintain the anonymity of our youth users.
My current situation can be attributed to my history battling a drug and alcohol addiction. The grip it had on me destroyed everything I had. I was left stranded on the streets and the side effects of the addiction were crippling. I had nothing to call my own and sold items like my cellphone to feed the addiction. Since then, I’ve made steady progress in moving away from my shaky past.
Once we reached the end of our lease, I was left scrambling in search of housing. I had already lost so much to my past problems and it finally dawned on me that I was homeless too. I had already lost so much to my past problems. It dawned on me that now I was homeless too. This is how I eventually landed myself in the shelter, which is where I have been for the past year and a half.
I came to Vancouver just around a month ago from Manitoba, leaving my daughter and family behind. Reaching a point of stability in life has been progressively hard as I navigate through numerous diseases. In addition to the time I devote to medical issues, mental health issues have entered my life, further straining my goals and ambitions.
My decision to move to Vancouver was the culmination of years spent in a drug-addicted household. Despite the fact that I came ill-prepared and was briefly homeless, I feel that my living conditions are still less precarious than the ones I distanced myself from. I found Covenant House two months ago, and though I still have a long journey ahead of me, I'm hopeful that with their resources and support, I will be able to restructure my life.
I moved away from my home when I was 19, primarily away from both of my parents who were struggling with an alcohol disorder. I lived in Winnipeg for a few years and fell through the cracks, unable to handle the change of environment. It was difficult, my lifestyle made me reliant on alcohol and whatever money I made would go right back into the addiction. I wanted to get away from it all, so I moved once again, this time to Vancouver.
I hitchhiked from Ontario to Vancouver about a year ago, primarily because of my home life. With the absence of a father, I never felt that my life had any guidance. I've thought a lot about what drove my decision to leave, and I think that the motivation behind it may have been the opportunity to better understand myself and what I want to do with my life.
I grew up in Montreal, but moved to Vancouver two years ago in search of a new outlook on life. Unfortunately, I came unprepared and was inexperienced in living on my own. I was homeless for eight months and because of the lack of shelters in this city I was often left on the streets night after night. As a young woman in a major urban city, I found it hard to gain a sense of security, especially given my precarious housing conditions.
I was raised in a non-secular household by parents whose authoritative values often came into conflict with my own. They had built a predetermined life for me in a country that champions individualism, and as I grew older, I realized that the only way to live freely was to leave home. My decision to leave might have been brash, but it was not unjustified.