#MoccasinsontheMove – Brave Bear’s Graduation
I’d like to start this story out by saying how honoured and privileged I am to know the young man that this story is about. He goes by the name of “Brave Bear”, and brave he is! The name is so fitting, bears are well known for their sensible forward thinking attitudes that crave stability. The bear people are well-known for desiring to “fix” things when they sense an injustice lurking in the forest, this is where bear shows courage and critical thinking skills.
All of the things about the Bear People perfectly describe our client Brave Bear, he has overcome so much in his short time here on this plain. He is an old soul written into the story of our modern day to bring teachings of bravery, courage, and resiliency.
Brave Bear and his Mama Bear first came to know about the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association (FRAFCA) in the midst of a life-crisis where their basic necessities of life were compromised. Mama Bear found out that due to some unfortunate circumstances that her and her son were going to be absolutely homeless and they had one day to find a new house in the midst of the housing crisis. They were at that time homeless living in hotels, motels and couch surfing. They were left with no place to go, and no money to attain anything that would afford them a safe home. Mama Bear and her Brave Bear were in crisis. Brave Bear was not attending school regularly as he wasn’t able to attain an address.
When all of the stress of not having a home for so many months, not having her son able to attend school, and at their absolute bottom it finally came crumbling down. The “Survival Mode” that they had been living in so long had now taken it’s toll on this family. Mama Bear finally met her complete breaking point at Surrey Central Station where she was in tears and in distress talking to her son about their situation. A passerby overheard her and gave her a card for the Aboriginal Homeless Outreach Program (AHOP) at FRAFCA. She put the card in her purse and didn’t give it much thought at the moment, the stress of the situation didn’t allow her to think past the immediate circumstances at hand.
Mama Bear remained in a place of complete crisis over the duration of the day, time was running out they had no place to go. Brave Bear being the “fixer” he is told his Mother, “why don’t you call that phone number you got today?” Mama Bear with nothing to lose called and spoke with the AHOP Worker at FRAFCA. The AHOP worker let her know that all would be okay, she would help in all ways she could to find them a home. Within a day the AHOP worker was able to find her a home, financially supported the transition, setup the family with services to move their things, and filled up their fridge with groceries. Mama Bear and Brave Bear were able to breathe knowing that they had a stable and safe roof over their head for the first time in months.
The AHOP Worker and other Housing workers continued to build a connection with the family over the next year. In the following months Brave Bear and his Mother fell on some hard times and were having financial difficulties. Brave Bear felt the need to take care of his new home and his Mama Bear so he came to FRAFCA to announce he would be leaving school in order to financially support the family. The Housing team made him a deal. They said, “if you promise us to graduate then we will assist your family with a rental subsidy,” Brave Bear being a man of resiliency and courage agreed. By this point he had already missed 5 months of school. This is when he decided to go to school in East Vancouver to catch up. He transited from Surrey to East Vancouver every single morning for months in order to catch up on the work he missed. He attended school everyday in all conditions in order to maintain his bus pass that his school program would pay for under the agreement the student had perfect attendance. Brave Bear was able to catch up in all his school work and continued to stay in connection with FRAFCA for the duration of his schooling.
This year we were proud to attend Brave Bears highschool graduation. This young man had defied all odds, defied the status-quo, and stood brave in the face of all that was meant to tear him down.
He is now in contact with the Indigenous Youth Urgent Needs Worker who has set him up with new work gear so Brave Bear can work over the summer. He plans to join the trades in September and his ultimate goal is to become a trained Red Seal in his choice Trade.
We have no doubts that this young man will accomplish whatever he sets his mind to in his lifetime.
Thank you for your story Brave Bear, thank you for showing others that courageous, brave young warriors like you still do exist- you are a true trailblazer.