#FightTheStigma

Vision For Life strives to eradicate the stigmas that result in the silencing of the voice of individuals facing extreme poverty. To do so, we interact with and encourage homeless individuals to speak about their stories, hardships, and future goals which are posted on our social media platforms with their consent.

If you know someone who would like to share their story, send us a picture with the hashtag #FightTheStigma to be featured!

Our website acts as a voice for individuals to express themselves, while actively fighting the stigma that is commonly associated with poverty.

Ed's Story

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NOTE: we have received permission from the individual to use his name and picture online

 

Ed was born in Montreal but was unfortunately taken away from his parents’ custody at the age of five due to private family issues and placed in foster care. By the age of twelve, he became fully homeless and began living on the streets. He was able to land a managerial position at a store, but after being diagnosed with degenerative arthritis, an incurable disease, he was forced to leave his position. Fast-forwarding to the present day, Ed moved to Winnipeg, where he was fortunate enough to have a place to live, but due to complicated conflict with the police, he was later forced to be evicted. It is from here that he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

Ed resides in Oppenheimer Park in Downtown Eastside and mainly relies on governmental grants which roughly total $1100 per month to survive. This amount is barely enough to get by each month. Ed finds it extremely difficult to sustain a living. He claims that despite the sense of community that exists, safety is the main concern for many in the Oppenheimer Park area. For instance, his tent was once broken into and as a result, he lost a very valuable army coat that his friend who served in the military gave him.

During our conversation, Ed expressed his concerns for society’s inclination to disregard the stories behind marginalized individuals and just push them away thinking that they cause a burden to the community. He claims that with his personal experiences, this causes a detrimental psychological impact on certain individuals which demotivates them to build a sustainable life for themselves, and thereby creating a never ending cycle of negativity. He believes this is a central issue of homelessness, that many experience. Overall, Ed believes that in order to truly make a difference in the community, we must learn to accept one another as human beings, and eradicate the stigma that surrounds homelessness.

Kirk's Story

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 NOTE: the individual granted us permission to use his name and picture in this story.

 

 

Kirk initially worked in parts engineering for a company that developed airplane parts. He was faced with the misfortune of being fired from his job, and also going through a divorce with his wife, and losing custody of his children. He became homeless as a result of not having sufficient resources but was fortunate enough to find someone who let him live on his couch at home but was later evicted.

 

Kirk then moved to an apartment complex in East Vancouver and managed to find several tools that were thrown out, which he began to use to construct pieces of jewelry, create art and blow glass. He would sell these projects as a source of income. Unfortunately, Kirk was reported to the police since he would store his tools in his apartment and as a result, his tools were confiscated upon the suspicion of being stolen and being a potential threat to the public. Furthermore, because of this event, he was evicted from the complex.

 

Kirk stated that the government aid he currently receives is hardly enough to get him by each month, and is not enough for rent. He currently has a back injury and is unable to move large distances due to the pain he experiences, Kirk has to lay on his belongings in order to minimize the pain (as seen in the picture). Additionally, the estimated wait time is currently around 6 months.

 

Overall Kirk expresses a great drive to attempt and restart his career after he recovers from his back surgery, he wants to start his own business and create several products, much like he was doing in his apartment before in order to create a sustainable life, despite all of the hardship he has encountered thus far.

Kevin's Story

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Due to the individual's request to protect his privacy, we will name this person “Kevin”.

 

 

Kevin initially graduated from high-school and began working straight after. He found a wife, and settled down with her soon after. Later, Kevin began having personal issues with his family, further leading to financial problems for Kevin as he was soon after fired from his job. This devastating spiral of events affected Kevin’s marriage, causing his wife to leave him. With no support network, and no assets left in Kevin’s name he was forced to turn to living on the streets.

 

When asked about his environment, Kevin stated that there was no community in the streets, and that everyone kept to themselves. Furthermore, he said he resides in a specific area in order to avoid violence and to watch for his safety. When asked about how the government is helping Kevin, he stated that the reserves are not an option, due to the excessive violence, molestation, and rape that occurs there. Kevin stated that he lives on roughly $200 per month, and he said that he was extremely frustrated with the government’s priorities for Canada. Kevin’s frustration stems from the fact that many marginalized individuals have been waiting to receive mobile housing, however due to the governments decision to allow Syrian refugees into the country, the refugees were prioritized due to their status and as a result, many individuals were pushed back in the queue.

 

Currently, Kevin is actively trying to fight homelessness by looking for job opportunities and is planning on working with an organization in the near future. Kevin is an example of someone who was working to be successful but sadly has had a rapid series of unfortunate events that happened to him, which could happen to quite literally anyone, regardless of their position in life. 

Jack's Story

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Due to the individual's request to protect his privacy, we will name this person “Jack”.

 

Jack initially graduated high-school and began to work for a company full time, unfortunately, he got into a severe car accident in 1985, and as a result, was unable to work.

 

With no other company willing to hire him, his savings eventually dwindled, and with no family to help him, Jack was left with no option but to live on the streets.

 

He is currently on the CPP Disability Pension, and receives ~$400/month, which is sadly not enough to cover his basic needs. Despite all this, Jack maintains a positive outlook on life and often would laugh and smile when we spoke with him.

 

Jack is living proof that everyone has their own story. This is why it’s important to raise awareness of poverty in Vancouver and reduce the stigma around people such as Jack.