Part five of a series of stories submitted by members of the Slave Lake Homeless Coalition.
For the Lakeside Leader
I first met Trish Beaver while waiting at Shoppers Drug Mart; Trish for her methadone treatment, me for my Pfizer vaccine. We struck up a conversation while waiting. I always wondered if we would see each other again. But, when out doing interviews for the Homeless Coalition, there was Trish! We hugged and she immediately accepted doing an interview with our group.
Trish described herself as choosing homelessness over the past two years.
“My trailer burnt, and dope got the best of me,” she said.
Trish is originally from Wabasca, but chooses to stay in Slave Lake, “for the methadone program.”
Trish’s mother was a residential school survivor and had difficulty showing love.
Trish said, “She used tough love. I still don’t feel loved. I was the outcast of seven children.”
Trish feels suicidal, because of feeling unloved, along with marital breakdowns, an abusive spouse, substance abuse, the recent death of her daughter, losing custody of her granddaughter, spending some time in prison, and her son now doing time in the penitentiary.
“Every day is suicidal thoughts,” she said. “Am I going to do it today? I don’t know.”
The day before the interview, she almost passed out from not having enough to eat.
Nutrition is known to affect mental health. During our interview, we shared fruit as people were speaking. We also passed out food coupons from the generous local businesses who are collaborating with us on this interview series.
Trish has lived in various places. She describes them as “whatever, couch-surf, stairwells, forts in the bush, just walk around and find tarps’n stuff, cardboard, and build it.”
Life on the street has its freedom, but there is a downside.
Trish said, “A lot of people here steal from you, but whatever, we got nothin’, so take it; or else people share whatever they have.”
Trish repeatedly stated, “I just wish more people would help us. It sucks out here.”
Trish tried the Mat Program at the Friendship Centre one night.
“I couldn’t stand the smell of alcohol,” she said.
Trish’s goal is to get to Edmonton to get into the Housing First Program. She has hopes of getting off drugs, cleaning up her life, and getting custody of her grandbaby. Our interview ended on a note of hope, the only hope Trish could identify.
“I quit drinking!” she said. “But, then I got into drugs. I will succeed at this (stopping using drugs), too.”