I am a ’60s Scoop Survivor; both my mother and father are Residential School Survivors. I was placed in foster care at the age of four and was placed in five or six foster homes before being adopted at the age of nine. I was brought to Ontario and adopted in Sarnia in 1981.

My family is a very loving and caring family, but due to personal issues that were not attended to and/or resolved, I ended up leaving at the age of 16, becoming a resident of a boys’ home in Sarnia called The Inn of the Good Shepherd, where I aged out at 19.

I was living in Brampton at the time and was transitioning to Toronto. I did not have a place to stay/residency in place and had to stay with a friend for a short while. I looked into support programs for the general public, and while doing an online search, came across Na-Me-Res. I realized it was specifically for Indigenous men and hoped I would be accepted. I came in and spoke with an Intake Worker and was accepted into the program.

I was working full-time, so I was not able to participate in many of the programs which NaMe-Res offered, but did attend the Healing Circle. The Healing Circle was helpful in many aspects of life. I was dealing with relationship issues, cultural issues and other personal issues which had occurred throughout my life. The Healing Circle was the most helpful in terms of emotional and psychological support. The other support system in place which helped me was the Indigenous Rapid Housing Program, which assisted me in securing an apartment. For the most part, I was dealing with emotional, psychological and relationship issues. Fortunately, I do not suffer or have any addiction issues. During my stay at Na-Me-Res, I was able to deal with some of my emotional, psychological and relationship issues through attending the Healing Circles.

I was also able to secure multiple jobs and become more financially stable. I cannot give NaMe-Res enough credit and appreciation for all they helped me with. It was a time which allowed me to heal and refocus my efforts to where they should be applied. With Na-Me-Res’ help, I was able to regain stability and focus. Since March 2, 2020, I have secured employment as an assistant to a home inspector and as a superintendent of three buildings, where I am on call 24 hours, and I have also become a better father to my children.

I would like to express that more programs such as Na-Me-Res are needed in the community for people such as myself, whether it be for transitioning of location, or because mental or addiction issues are needed. I also cannot express my true gratitude as to the service and care of all who work at Na-Me-Res.

My future endeavours are to return to Na-MeRes and be able to give back to the community and the very entity (Na-Me-Res) which has been instrumental in my success story.

I was a troubled kid, on the streets at 14. In and out of jail, on probation my whole teenage years. Been part of the system since age 13. Living independently, couch surfing, I got involved with street gangs as a young teen. I was initiated into my first gang at 14. I started out involved with petty crimes before graduating to drugs and guns. By the time I was 36 I came to the realization that I needed to change my life and get away from gangs and addiction. I moved across the country and found my way to Sagatay.

After being interviewed and accepted into the program, I moved in just before Christmas and just before the arrival of COVID-19 changed the world. I really found myself gravitating toward a more spiritual life. I was able to connect with Indigenous resources in the community which helped me to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually.

At Sagatay I was able to spend time with people from other Indigenous cultures and share in an exchange of cultural knowledge.

As valuable as my time spent here was, I left after finishing my whole year to pursue a spiritual quest. I learned a lot about myself during that time and kept learning about controlling my emotions and finding joy in the simple things, even in the shadow of COVID. After a year and a half of this journey of personal discovery, I learned so much about colonization in Canada that I was ready to focus on a new beginning and join the fight for justice.

 I reapplied to Sagatay and was lucky enough to be accepted. I came back transformed and embraced the changes that had taken place in the program while I was away, taking advantage of the opportunity to further my education. I have been much more active and confident at the Big Drum during drum circles, singing leads and encouraging others. I am more in tune with my spirituality and have taken care of my physical health, completing physio. I have also abstained from drugs and alcohol the whole time I have spent at Sagatay.

All around, this place has helped me out beyond my dreams. Being able to conquer my addictions and get away from things that were holding me back has truly been transitional. Finding a place where I felt comfortable asking for help has changed me for the better

Allan is Cree and a member of the wolf clan. He is from the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario. He grew up in Cochrane, living in and out of foster care. He is a survivor of sexual abuse and started drinking at fourteen. His high school years were a mixture of good grades and escalating addictions. By the time Allan was eighteen, he was living on the streets.

At twenty, he went to live with his mother, got a job, and then his own place. He then relapsed, lost his home, and ended up living in the woods. Allan hit rock bottom last year after finding himself in the hospital in Thunder Bay. The issue was serious, the withdrawal was intense, and he called his brother for help. He got him a one-way ticket to go live with him. His brother told him about Na-Me-Res. He was accepted and has stayed clean & sober. He is now living at Sagatay and taking programs to learn skills and self-care. He is re-learning about his culture with drumming, smudging, the garden, the plants, the circles, and the sacred fire.

“Na-Me-Res has been giving me strength, hope, and self-esteem. I wouldn’t change anything about what I am going through now.”

Allan is now taking the Community and Health Care Worker program with Anishnawbe Health Toronto. He is learning about community training and working in the food bank kitchen. His goal is to go to college and become a social worker. To give back to the community and to return home to Attawapiskat First Nation.

The Na-Me-Res Pow Wow is on June 15th at Fort York
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