Success Stories

GregLoonFinding His Voice

Greg has been selected as a Na-Me-Res success story because he is always working hard on his goals. Whether in transitional housing, emergency shelter, or independent housing, he is known for staying focused and dedicated to his dreams.

While at Sagatay in May 2013, Greg started writing, using it as a therapeutic method of artistic expression. His collection of poetry has since been published in newsletters and online ‘zines.
Greg is currently living at Na-Me-Res and attending the Community Health Worker program at Anishnawbe Health Toronto (Gerrard St. Location). He will be attending the second year of the program at George Brown College in September 2016. He hopes that he can transfer his credits to Ryerson University and enrol in the bachelor of Social Work program. He is still in transition, saving up money, and waiting for the right time to take the next step toward positive living.

Greg appreciates the support and kindness from the Na-Me-Res counsellors and front desk staff during his time at the shelter.

“I’m at the final step of my journey, of trying to figure out what I am doing with my life.”
To learn more about Greg Loon and his writing, please visit his website.


JohnnyFinding Hope

Johnny, who is originally from Constance Lake First Nation, got in touch with Street Outreach a year ago while he was living at a house where people were still actively using substances. At the time, he was working odd jobs and looking for permanent work. His goal was to regain his focus in life through sobriety and to improve his education. Street Outreach connected Johnny to housing through Nishnawbe Homes in support of Johnny’s desire to live in an abstinence-based environment.

Johnny is currently applying to the Community Worker program at George Brown College, in partnership with Miziwe Biik. His plans are to work and go to school at the same time. He is currently employed as a peer support worker with West Neighbourhood House, where he works with the homeless. He enjoys being with others and motivating them toward their goals. He also holds workshops for crafts and painting, and is interested in exploring iron art and welding art as new creative ventures.

“Street Outreach has helped with counselling, finding hope, and relieving my stress.”


JamesFinding Stability

James was referred to the Mino Kaanjigoowin Program by a worker in the Na-Me-Res Emergency Shelter. He was struggling with having been arrested, losing his housing, and being uprooted from his cultural identity. He had been diagnosed with and medicated for a mental health disorder that left him with a number of side effects, including aggression. James describes that time in his life as “…hard to manage. I was going too fast.”

Once on the Mino Kaanjigoowin caseload, James began to put his life back together. He completed a thorough assessment with the team psychiatrist and began a new medication. He feels the team really stuck their neck out to help him get where he is today. James has reconciled with other community organizations where he previously had trouble. He has demonstrated significant stabilization with his new diagnosis and medication and has grown his support network to help him maintain his sobriety. He has also grown spiritually.

James left the emergency shelter system and a life of homelessness in May 2014. He has since found independent affordable housing that he now calls home. He has started classes at George Brown College, where he has a successful first year under his belt.

James describes himself as being “…in a good position to absorb information. I have my own apartment and can keep food in the cupboards. I am on my way to becoming the Nish man I am supposed to be.”


BrandonFinding the Tune

Brandon had been living on his own with his rabbit, Bugs, and struggling with his mental health. The medication he had been prescribed was causing him to have negative side effects such as sleeping all day. His mother, who had become increasingly concerned about him, finally referred him to the Na-Me-Res Mino Kaanjigoowin Program. In August of 2014, he moved into the Na-Me-Res Emergency Shelter and began addressing his mental health needs with the support of the Mino Kaanjigoowin team. They supported him as he worked to regulate his sleeping and eating patterns, and transported him to all his appointments.

Brandon says that he found great comfort while at Na-Me-Res. A year later, he is now living in his own place where he is stable and happy. With the stabilization of his mental health he has been able to return to his love of music. He plays in a punk band, is producing a demo tape, and continues to write his own music.


LanceFinding a Path

Lance came to Sagatay after graduating successfully from a local treatment program in the GTA area. Lance has had many years of substance abuse, issues with the law, and homelessness. Before moving to Toronto, he had attended a recovery program for men in Sudbury, Ontario, and since moving to Toronto, he has continued to maintain a sober lifestyle.

Lance has continuously worked hard on himself and uses every resource available through the Sagatay Program as well as those offered through other organizations. He has effectively upgraded his high school credits and has graduated successfully from the C.O.Y.O.T.E. Program offered by the Toronto Council Fire.

Currently, Lance is enrolled in the Finding My Way Program offered by Anishnabe Health Toronto. He also started the Transitional Year Program at the University of Toronto in September 2015.

Lance continues to stay focused on furthering his education and maintaining a clean and sober lifestyle. He has been accepted into the Dunn Avenue Housing and is very much looking forward to having his own space to call home. Lance continues to demonstrate perseverance and dedication to his new lifestyle and his education goals. His long-term goal is to become a nurse.

ShaneFinding Peace

Growing up, Shane experienced numerous traumas that led him to a life of pain, crime, and anger. He entered Sagatay with goals of working on his physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self. While at Sagatay, Shane has experience a shift on his journey through opportunities with the Ngim Kowa Njichaag (Reclaiming My Spirit) program and working with Oshkabaywis Gabe Gaudet. He attended regular sweat ceremonies and was taught drum making and ceremonial songs. He attended Elder teaching and sharing circles. He began to break down his barriers and allow moments of vulnerability, thereby allowing his spirit to connect to his culture.

Today, Shane smudges each morning to maintain his relationship with the Creator and walks with the 7 Grandfather Teachings for guidance and balance. He is a fire keeper on a regular basis, a role that has provided him a sense of belonging and an important place in the community.

A loving father of two, he is now completing his Community Health Worker program and is doing his placement as Oshkabaywis with Anishnawbe Health Toronto.

“In the last year I have learned so much about myself and who I am as a Native man. I have a very troubled past and without a doubt I can say learning my traditions and going to ceremonies has really changed who I am. Following the ways of my culture is what keeps me focused and positive on my red path. I know without a doubt that if I had not come here, my life would still be full of trouble and prison.”