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

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