August 7, 2018
We were told that she was called the "Hood Mom", so we went looking for her. As it turned out, she found us. And was waiting on the boulevard on a tarp she had laid out.
"From the beginning from what I could tell, like when I first moved here, the needle thing was rampant. Drugs were a rampant thing on the street. It was a lot more dangerous. It was really scary to come out here and do things. It was really scary. But I got to know a couple of ladies from the Mustard Seed here and at the Bissell and they struck a chord within me. It is starting to become a healthier place. Now the needle thing isn't as bad.
What do you think helped that?
"It's been an ongoing thing. Just cracking the whip with everybody. Seeing it, pick it up now. We all, me and the ladies of the neighbourhood, there’s a few of us that just do it all the time. We carry around a little sharps container and if we see anything we pick it up. Because there are babies in the hood now. So it starts with all of us; there is a community effort to make this a better place."
Do you have a lot of family in the neighbourhood?
"Oh, lots of it. Plenty of it. Like my own blood family, I don't really talk to them all that much. My friends, oh yes, I talk to them every day. Just touch base."
What has been the happiest moment of your life so far?
"Giving my soul to god. Besides childbirth. Those actually go side by side. It was like being reborn. Almost at the same time as my son was. So we grew up at the same time as Christians. Yeah, it has been good. Interesting."
You said you feel quite capable of living out here. How did you get to that point?
"I don't even know, just one friendship at a time. And then I reaffirmed my vows for God. I accepted Jesus into my life again, and you know you have to do that every once in a while and I had kind of slipped there a little bit. And now I spread that good word every day, and I know that my influence around here has been very good and there are families that have started to come to this community. There are babies being born in our community. There are people starting to care, and it started with just one person. You have to show care and show the empathetic part of things. I might have been a bit deluded but I’ve always just cared about people. Every walk of life. Every colour."
"I’ve always believed in God and Jesus, and I’ve always been Christian and to find myself down here was very difficult for me. But it was kind of a reprieve for me. A vacation in essence because … I had a very hectic life, my other life was very hectic. Well, this one is just as hectic but you know it's a different kind of hectic now. I’ve found some really good friends here on the street, I consider them my family now. Both with the Mustard Seed staff and the Bissell Centre staff, I’ll have these friends for life. Also, the ladies doing the homeward trust. And the caseworkers at the Bissell, oh man, without them, I don’t know what I would do. And you know that's why I continuously and tirelessly advocate for people, I go to different organizations and ask them to donate to these places because they’re so stressed and so taxed for the money. It takes a lot of money to run places like this. You know without them we wouldn't be here, and I appreciate that a great deal."
"My days are pretty interesting, I try not to go out in public too much because people want to talk. I’m trying to take some time for myself, I’m doing cognitive restructuring therapy. A foundation for the rest of my life. So I have to make sure that that foundation isn't going to be a shitty one. You know, its learned experiences, and I’m really getting some schooling done in my own private life. And it's not only important for myself, but for my family that I haven’t been there for. One sacrifice always begets another one. I don't know. It is kind of a labour of love."
"I live at the Hope Mission, but I’m going to moving out of the hood pretty soon here. I just have to wait until my court stuff is finished because I got myself into a bit of a jam. But if it wasn’t for that then I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't have come the leaps and bounds that I have now, right.
What is it that you’re waiting on the court for?
"Oh god. I was stupid and I apparently sold drugs to an undercover officer. And I remember the exact time and everything. It seems so surreal to me now. You know my addicted brain and my non-addicted brain are so different. Completely night and day. And I just think to myself, fuck, I can't believe I did something dumb like that. But I just didn't care, I just didn't care."
"If you need help getting off the streets, you go and see this woman at the Bissell. She was my case-worker and she was amazing. Amazing, amazing woman."
Are you still in contact with her?
"No not as of late because I got myself into a jam and I can't go over there. I have a radius ban, that's one of the conditions I have to adhere to. But I’m quite capable of maintaining my life now, you know, it was a good starting point for me. She was the first friend that I found out here, and it's been good so far. Sometimes you get a bit wayward every now and then."
"We like harmony and peace and love. That is what we breed around here. That is what we’re trying to do anyways. There was a lot of gang relating things, but now it's not so bad. They tone it down around here because they know we don't tolerate that shit anymore. It might get me killed but I don't care, I will spread the word of God every day of my life. He has me in his heart."