#Moccasinsonthemove – Christine’s Story
Christine came to Surrey from Edmonton where her family originates. She was always known to be her families “safe haven”, when problems arose she was the person her family turned to for support. She was always a happy go-lucky hard worker who never needed the support of social assistance, never let addictions over-run her life, and always had her own home that she lived and paid for independently.
She left Edmonton for her children, to give them a better life, so she came to Vancouver. Her and her partner lived in Surrey and began a life together raising their children. Christine’s life took a turn when her partner and the Father of her children ended the relationship and asked her to move out. She had nowhere to go, nothing but a backpack of her belongings. She was never homeless before, and now she was in a big city with no support system to turn to for help. She says, “I looked around and realized how do I start? I have nothing.” She ended up going to a shelter that night for the first time ever. She lived at Lookout here in Surrey, where they referred her to the Aboriginal Homeless Outreach Program (AHOP). Within a day the AHOP worker had her setup in a Womens Home in New Westminister.
FRAFCA continued to support her, giving her bus tickets so she could see her children, as well as supported her during Christmas so she was able to give them gifts.
Whilst Christine was living in her Womens Home she got pregnant, she was 6 months pregnant when she had a stillborn baby. To Christine her children are her life, losing her baby absolutely threw Christine into a whole other world of pain and sorrow. She needed her family and community support but had nowhere to turn to. Christine was always the rock of her family, she was the essence of “home” as most women in our Matrilineal culture. Feeling alone she turned to drugs to be able to feel anything but the disconnected loneliness that she was never used to.
Her addictions took over and she lost her home and was left to the streets. She ended up living on the downtown Eastside, Hastings, where the community that was just as lonely became her family and for a while it filled that void within. This void which is so often created when an Indigenous person leaves their home communities to come to the concrete jungle; A world unfamiliar to the spirit within us, so it leaves us grasping for anything slightly recognizable-any type of community.
Eventually Christine was able to ask for help after continually living in shelters, she was supported by the shelters outreach worker to find a home through BC Housing. She lived in her own home in Vancouver and continued to use and remained disconnected with her family back in Edmonton.
One day her brother from Edmonton showed up at her doorstep. She asked what he was doing there and as he pushed passed her he saw all her drug paraphernalia on the table. He said he was worried about her and her lack of communication with the family. After months of her continued use of drugs her brother decided it was time for him to pack up and go, she asked him why and he told her, “I’ve been here for 6 months now and I haven’t seen any change happen, if I leave it might encourage you to actually get some help. You need help.”
Christine was hit hard with reality when her brother left, her loneliness kicked in full force, she was homeless again and had no place to go. It was in that moment that she decided it was time to get some help, so she entered 90 day treatment at the Hannah House. She completed her 90 days and then moved onto Second Stage housing.
Christine now sober is working at the Hannah House as a House Mother.
Christine has reclaimed her life and has a newfound sense of self-love and community that didn’t exist since living on the Mainland. All of her trials and tribulations allowed her to be able to find work in the very place that took her in at her worst. Her story now holds water, it has substance and meaning, the days of pain are not lost on her. Her story is now singing songs of victory for her reclaimed connection to the sacredness that lives within, that we all forget exists sometimes, it has allowed her to reclaim the strength of her ancestors and she is now the matrilineal leader for her family that her blood only ever recognized.
In what way will you reclaim your story today?