August 7, 2018
During our interview with Jen, she motioned to a woman sitting on a grassy boulevard across the street. Dawn. She was chatting animatedly with two young men. After we said our goodbyes to Jen, we crossed the street and sat on the sidewalk to talk to Dawn.
"I have two girls and two boys. I lost a son a long time ago, he would’ve been ten right now. My youngest boy just turned 10, his name is Kingston. And then my oldest boy is 12 almost 13, his name is Asia Ryan, and then my daughter Cadence, her birthday was two days ago, she just turned 14. She’s six feet tall and just turned 14. I’m really proud of her, she’s really awesome. She won three academic awards this year. And she made it to Indigenous games. And she placed first in shot-put, and first in discus. My 12 year old son too. He placed first in high jump and he is like really short and tiny. It is so funny because when you see him running in the air he does all his steps in the air. It is so cool, he is so fast. He’s really awesome. They stay with my aunt right now, but I’m hoping to get them back soon because I just got approval form Homeward Trust for a house.
My oldest daughter, Eve Lily, is already in the city here. She’s in the Independent Living Program. I am just waiting for my aunty. She applied for full guardianship and she told me that if I can get everything straightened out in my life and do everything that I’m supposed to be doing, that I should’ve been doing all this time, instead of doing what I’m doing right now, then she would happily give them back. Cause she knows that I’m a good mother and she knows that I love my children."
"I applied through Homeless connect in the spring and since then I was staying with my uncle for a bit. And then he passed away. So my daughter and I had nowhere to go, so we stayed out here right. I talked to someone over at the Bissell and they said they would try to prioritize my application. I didn’t hear from them for a bit, but they found me and that was really cool. I got the news within the past 2-3 weeks. Since my oldest daughter is being placed with me, because she is in the Independent Living Program, they have approved us for a three bedroom house instead of an apartment. I’m really excited about it. I already got my medications done, and now I am back on social assistance because you have to be on that too; I did all that last week. And I did my taxes. And I found I out that I missed a year, and that’s when I had my kids, so I’ll get all that back-pay. I’m going to put that all in an account under my daughter’s name because right now I think she’s a little bit more responsible than I am."
"My daughter is really awesome. She’s 16, she will be 17 soon. She’s awesome, she’s amazing. She has been put here for how long with me and she is still not trying to join bad crowds that I don’t want her to be around or to try and do drugs. Sure she admittedly smokes cigarettes in front of me, and I’m fine with that, she’s honest with me. She’ll drink every once in a while, but she’s honest about it. And she knows when to cut herself off, she knows when to go to bed. She’s responsible. She’s an amazing child. Yeah sure, she’s had mistakes in her past and she’s done a lot of shit she regrets right now but… well, why I said that, is she almost made me a grandma. Last year. She had a miscarriage. Yeah, messed up."
Your name has a guardian angel feel to it.
"My street son Josh said the exact same thing! And he wrote this thing for me and I wanted to get it tattooed on a necklace on my neck, but it says 'For every dawn brings a new day, to shine light and brighten your way.' I wanted to get that tattooed on my neck. He wrote that for me years ago. Man, I love that kid. He is one of my street sons you know. It’s funny because that kid used to be so different. When I met him he used to wear his hair like this *puts hair in front of face*, all up in front of his face. Emo kind of. Always hiding from people. And he wouldn’t talk to anybody, he was really shy."
"In all honesty, I feel more at home with everyone out here than I do with my own family. Because your family is judgemental towards you. They want you to be and act and react in a certain way, right. So it’s like all this pressure all the time. But out here people accept you for who you are. They know you fucked up, they know you made mistakes, you’re doing what you gotta do to survive. It’s a lot different. It’s more accepting and loving and caring. We look out for each other. At least I try to anyway."
"I don’t hide shit, but I don’t flaunt shit. I know what I do and I’m not proud of it, but at the same time I won’t go 'I don’t do that.' 'Cause that’s not me. But I’m not going to go around like other people and leave a big mess and leave all my shit laying around. No. That’s just ugly. That’s just people who just don't give a shit about anything or anybody."
"Jen and I have an agreement. We do one street a night. We will clean one whole street within our community, a night. We’ll pick up all the garbage, we’ll pick up everything, just so it’s all nice and clean. And I do that when I’m out and about by myself, and I see somebody’s trash strewn all over. I’ll take the time to pick it all up and bag it all up and put it in the trash properly. And I’ll just walk away. I only do that because it’s the right thing to do. And when you do good things, other people notice. And eventually, they’ll start to do the same thing."
"I strongly feel that if good actions are reflected, people will change more and more over time. And over time people change. And every seven years, people change. It is your cells, all your cells are new after seven years. So it’s like you’re a whole new person after 7 years. But that doesn’t mean that your new person needs to be somebody ugly. Just because you don’t feel beautiful on the outside, doesn’t mean you don’t have to feel beautiful on the inside. And I’m the type of person who likes to find somebody and seek out their potential and seek out their beauty and try to build on that and encourage that, so that way they know that they have value, that they have worth. And I like to do that kind of thing, because it makes me feel good as a person, knowing that I can make somebody else feel good."