Alex’s StorySelf, Addictions , Homelessness , Identity , Recovery , Stories
Contributed by: Union Gospel Mission
“I’ll be 10 years sober in September – so it’s been a little over 9 years since I really started learning about my culture. I’m from the Gingolx located at the mouth of the Nass River. My Mother’s side is Gitxsan and my father’s side is Nisga’a…As a support worker at UGM, I see my First Nations brothers and sisters and they ask me how I got to where I am and I tell them, ‘Let’s go, let’s talk.’ I take a half hour and say my piece…I always let them know that if they come to the Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program, I will always make myself available to them.”
Alex came to UGM hoping to change his life just about a decade ago. The devastating abuse of the ‘60s scoop’, which forced Alex away from his family and into a residential school as a young boy, left lasting trauma and resulted in a 27-year battle with addiction and episodic homelessness. As Alex began to recover at UGM, he was able to embrace and celebrate his culture. He’s now a proud father to a newborn and is a cherished staff member at UGM. To celebrate Canada Day, we want to take a moment to celebrate staff like Alex, who now dedicates his life to helping others overcome homelessness and addiction, just like him.
“The whole idea of these schools was to kill the Indian in the child. To wipe us right out and make us become the Western world instead of being who we were, who we are. That’s the reason those schools were built in the first place, to kill us. To kill our culture, the native tongue, the way we looked, our hair. The way we talked…It’s a tough deal growing up that way, being brainwashed. I thought I shouldn’t be here, why am I here? I even hated my own people, I thought we were made all wrong…I was homeless more than 30 times in 27 years. I didn’t have time to think about my culture…The reason why it took so long to bring alive the culture within me, is because of the 27 years I struggled with drugs and alcohol.”
“When I was in the [Men’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery] Program at UGM, I found my spiritual awakening. In Step 4 [of the Alcoholic Anonymous program] you write down all of the people who have harmed you and who you’ve harmed. Step 5 is to read that list to a friend and to God. It took me over 3 hours to read that list, and I cried the whole time – when I walked out that door, I was floating. I no longer hated God, but I knew that I still had things to do, that was just the beginning of my recovery.”