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Why Can't We Help This Homeless Veteran?

By Cec, a resident of the Exchange District


Here is a brief bio of a homeless person we had a discussion with recently in Fort Douglas Park.


Abraham is a Canadian Army Iraq/Afghanistan vet originally from Hollow Water First Nation north of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. He currently is living in a self-built encampment on the banks of the Red River east of Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg. He recently worked building houses for a contractor who laid him off due to a lesser requirement for man power. He is on Employment Insurance and also receives a small military pension.



During the day he, along with other of the downtown homeless population, visits Siloam

Mission, etc. to receive meals, but he will not spend overnights at a homeless shelter because he can’t get a good night’s sleep due to the noise and disruption of drunks, drug addicts and mentally ill people who frequent these shelters. He prefers the peace and quiet on the river at night.


He is on a wait list for assisted housing but is not keen to make that move due to the

conditions in some of the offered units, including bed bugs and other unsanitary factors. He has worked at a well paying job in the past as a hard rock miner in a silica extraction operation near Bissett, but the work is underground and very dangerous. He describes the fact that the power goes out once or twice a shift and no one can move for fear of falling into one of many deep pits in the mine.


It seems that in this case of this homeless veteran, a decent job and modest housing would allow him to move off the river bank

He has two daughters who live with their mother in Alberta but, since the cancelation of cross country bus service, the other options of train and plane for visiting are too expensive for him to consider. He is contemplating getting a bicycle to travel to Alberta where he feels he could then find work in the oil fields. Sleeping outdoors along the way would not be a concern for him.


Abraham is but one example of the homeless population in Winnipeg. It seems that in this case of this homeless veteran, a decent job and modest housing would allow him to move off the river bank to be a more productive member of society. Others, of course have problems much harder to deal with, but in many cases, as we all know, decent housing and access to specific programs would go a long way to resolve their homeless situation.

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