By no means am I an expert, but I do believe aboriginal homelessness is what makes Canadian homelessness different than other countries. And I believe it is a serious social crisis that needs to be addressed as a priority when looking at solutions for Canada. We started the conversation with Adrian Wolfleg back in Calgary. Many of you may remember Adrian performed a naming ceremony over me giving me an aboriginal name. Truly one of the greatest honors of my life.
I am not aboriginal, and I will never fool myself or others to believe I understand their gorgeous culture and struggles to survive. That said, I felt the best way to share the aboriginal story of homelessness in Canada was to simply empower my new aboriginal friends to tell their own story. We met JR in Kelowna – a wonderful man who now survives by picking “empties”. In Yellowknife we met Cassien, Gina and Clayton – each with a powerful story that not only shares the problems of aboriginal homelessness but the solutions. In Saskatoon we met Patrina and her daughter – their family separated because there is no support for family homelessness. In Winnipeg we met Alma - a courageous grandmother who came from the reserves to go to school and get her granddaughter back. You’ll be meeting more people on Invisiblepeople.tv soon.
Honestly, I was a little nervous in telling the aboriginal story. I wanted to help more than anything, and I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing for everyone. As I traveled aboriginal leaders and people that I met thanked me for sharing their story. I am genuinely grateful and greatly honored to be given such a huge responsibility. But we have only just started. There is decades of destruction that needs healing and that’s not going to happen overnight.
The following interview is with Dave Ward, director of aboriginal relations at Homeward Trust Edmonton. This is an important conversation. David talks about aboriginal culture and solutions to ending homelessness. Too me, I think the biggest is listening. We need to listen to their culture and include aboriginal people in the process of finding and implementing solutions. Please watch and share this important video.