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Overcoming a life of crime has been one of my largest obstacles. Coming up as a problem child with apparent disorders had put me on a crash course at a young age. Between the teachers and doctors hindering my positive growth, it put a strain on my outlook and respect I had for authority. As an only child, I looked anywhere for approval and guidance. Unfortunately as uncontrollable as I was the only people who looked out for me and I looked up to weren’t upstanding law abiding citizens. I’ve paid my dues and done my time. I’m still getting used to functioning in society and I have troubles from time to time, but it’s been three years since I was last incarcerated and I don’t plan on going back for anyone. No amount of money will make me risk my freedom again.

-Harvey Danger

The DoorwayComment
Exhausted by Pain
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 Last year I thought I fell in love. I quit my job and moved away from Calgary to stay with him. The first month was so perfect, he was so charming and kind. It was fantastical, obviously too good to be true, but I fell for it, hard. Even after I found out about his coke addiction, I convinced myself things were still a fairy-tale. It doesn’t take long to pick up a drug habit if your significant other is using. I heard my mother’s voice escape from my memories, I knew what she’d say, and I knew what I should’ve done. When he told me I had to be more careful because the RCMP had an open investigation on him, I should’ve bolted…. But you must understand he had brainwashed me to worship him, lest I get beaten. I ignored every red flag I saw, and I used the drug to numb the pain I felt the first time he hit me. Of course it all comes down the hill here, with me stuck at the bottom curled up on the floor. I remember how his kick felt as it connected with the side of my stomach, and how I stared at the carpet fibers for an hour thinking about how similar we were at that moment. Stuck in one place and constantly stomped on. I really was trapped at this point. He was convinced I was talking to boys on my phone and meeting with them behind his back, so he took my phone. I was only allowed to use it to text my mother and he supervised me, making sure I’d say everything was fine. All my stuff was at his house, and without my own car I couldn’t just leave. Fortunately, my mom is an amazing detective and started hatching a plan with the RCMP. She came to town one day and he let me see her for an hour. She told me she knew about the drugs and suspected more. She gave me a safeword to use on the phone, and that word saved my life. In the last month of hell I discovered a green pill on his bedside table. I asked him about it and he freaked out, refusing to tell me what it was. I eventually found out it was fentanyl. Later that week, we had a huge fight which resulted in him slamming my head against the microwave, throwing me against the corner of the wall, and pushing me onto the couch. He saw the blood before I did, and started apologizing and crying, begging me not to go the hospital. He cleaned me up and gave me a line of fentanyl. That line was one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made. Since that day I constantly crave it, only avoiding it because of the terrible withdrawal I went through when I sent my mother the safeword three weeks later. I sent the safeword because he threw my stuff down the stairs, threatened me with a hammer and used it to destroy both my dressers, and finally threatened me with the shotgun he kept in his room. I ran outside with the phone hoping he wouldn’t shoot me on the street, and sent her the safe word. She had told me that if I texted her the safeword, she would call the cops and bring her truck and the neighbor’s truck to help move me out. Luckily the gun was an empty threat, he hadn’t loaded it. He was packing his valuables and trying to run. About 8 cop cars arrived to corner him in right as he started up his truck. Ever since him, I’ve struggled with my identity and I’ve found it difficult to care about myself. When I’m around people I feel isolated, because I don’t think they understand what I’m going through. I’m trying to act normal and feel confident but it is difficult when the truth is I am exhausted by pain. I will still keep moving, because I have to, and I hope this struggle helps me grow.


The DoorwayComment
Past and Present
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When I was young
I was free, time was at a standstill.
Erratic behavior and immaturity surrounded me
Inspiration and energy were on my side.
Thoughts sprang to mouth,
Without a moment’s notice.
Others rarely listened.

I am older now.
My inspiration on a leash.
Energetic ideas still remain,
But my mouth now pauses in hesitation before speech,
As though others expect maturity.

I know no longer those carefree days,
The mindless hours spent daydreaming.
Time is now short, things have changed.

People now listen,
Only too closely!
Pressure and fear and failure
Are a constant threat.

Responsibility and decisions are now mine-
And mine alone.
Regrettably, I’m now an adult.

-Kevin, 1994

The DoorwayComment
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Making Change happens when a choice is given. The wrong thought or action can take this ability and destroy it. Leaving you with not the desire to Make Change, but to give in to despair.

Remember the old game of dominoes the point of the game was to rid yourself of the numbered blocks but you could only place one down in the pattern started. Unless you had a double, then you were given a choice to change the pattern. Despair came when all you had were high numbers in your hand, with no opportunity to make a change in the pattern.

Recently, some friends and I were playing this game. It was all too much like my life. For as long back as I can think I’ve never been handed a double. Everyone I knew, in every turn of every game were dealt many. Thereby the pattern kept changing, moving in different ways, choices were always available. But not for me. I was always stuck with the same hand consistently. Now my slate is clean, now I am able to change the pattern. I make choices happen. Not that I didn’t have a choice before, I’m sure I did, it was just a wrong thought or action came into play behind it. I realize now, you deal your own doubles. I believe with this new turn in the game the pattern is changing for me.


The DoorwayComment
The Trans-mission of life
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The Trans-mission of life.  Ugly, Gross, Freak.  These are but a few of the hateful words spoken towards the Trans individual, and community as a whole.  Life’s not easy when everyone on the train constantly stares at you, curious as to what you actually are.  We are Human. No less than those who don’t share our curse.  The daily struggle for acceptance of the Trans individual is very real.  In other parts of the world, that is an understatement. Still, even in our very accepting society, groups still endure discrimination on varying levels.  Some verbal. Some physical.  Some are even fatal.  We must learn how to “fool” society to avoid inevitable, awkward and potentially dangerous encounters.  What happens when a Trans woman is told she doesn’t move very feminine? Or that she has a deep voice?  It slowly erodes her vision of her true self.  Forcing her to abide by social binaries.  

So before you start to judge anyone who is or may be Transgender or any of its sub-labels, just remember that we all bleed red, and all sleep under the same moonlight.


The DoorwayComment
Everything in life has to have a start
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 I thought it would be easy to write a story about going from living on the streets to being free of the streets.  I’ve been labeled as a “success story”, but I’m not totally sure that I am. I have a full-time job, my own apartment, and many more material goods than I did a year ago. But I’m not free of the streets. I’ve worked at my job for six months now, and I still don’t feel like I fit in. We had an incident at work a few weeks ago where some money and steaks were stolen, and fingers automatically pointed at me because of my background. I find whenever I have problems at work, I go to a popular hangout down town where I am accepted. I realize though, that I have come a long way since this time last year.   

I worked long and hard to get just this far, and in some aspects I have come a long way. My relationship with my mother is 100% better. I feel better, and I’m finally getting a lot of the things out of life that I wanted.    

I’m not completely away from the streets yet, but I’ve made a start, and everything in life has to have a start.

-Anonymous, 1989

The DoorwayComment
I want you to take into consideration...
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You are reading this right now maybe in your warm home, at work, or maybe on your way to lunch. Not taking into recognition how much you have and how easily accessible your daily means of surviving are.  I’m not saying you are taking things for granted, for all I know you’re a virtuous person, with a good heart.  When you showered this morning and had a quick breakfast, you didn’t take into account how lucky you were to have these things every day, you weren’t washing your hair or eating a piece of toast being thankful for what you have.  Everyone has seen the unfortunate downtown, whether they were drunk and making a scene, or wandering up to you asking for the change in your pockets.  A lot of the time you are startled by them, and maybe even scared.  These people don’t get to wake up to a warm shower, or to a warm meal, they have to struggle to maybe even consume something that day, even then it’s not enough to be healthy.  The clothes on their backs are their wardrobe, and money in their pocket wasn’t earned but from pity.  There are adolescents on the street these days who don’t get a warm bed or a loving family.  They don’t get to play sports. Every day is a day to survive and get by.  It’s really unfortunate how it isn’t their fault they are struggling to survive, most of the time they were brought up in a broken home, were around drugs and alcohol a lot, or their family just couldn’t provide for them any longer, and some didn’t even have a family to start out with.  If you haven’t seen a connection in the adolescent and usually older people who hassle you on the street, you should realize:  they start off as young people in youth shelters, and are usually broken inside and give in to drugs and alcohol.  They go on and on like this until they have lost all their ties, and they are alone in this world.  Struggling to have one decent meal, having issues so deep and vast that they have turned to drugs just to get by and ease the pain.  When a strung out person confronts you on the street asking for your well earned money, you are not thinking about what this person has gone through, you are maybe panicking and trying to avoid them at all costs.  I’m not saying you should give them money, for all we know they are just going to get a quick fix.  I want you to take into consideration that these people didn’t have the push to be successful, or the right people to turn to when they were in the dirt.  They didn’t have a loving family to teach them the right path, or the means to even get by.  They usually started off as teenagers who were viewed as criminals and druggies, who had no one to talk to about their issues, so never did.  They kept going the only way they knew and ended up alone.  I was on the streets for a bit of my life, yes me.  My mother passed away when I was very young and until then I was always around drugs and my abusive father.  I was soon taken away and put in foster homes where I was also abused and not cared for.  At a young age I knew I was a smart kid and I was going to amount to something and I knew none of these people were going to help me.  I was soon on the street fending for myself and also struggling to get by.  I was forced to sell drugs and steal and commit crimes just to survive.  I always had good friends I could go to but lost a lot of them because I fell into drugs and alcohol, but why?  I knew those would never get me anywhere, but why did I always feel so much better when I was high or drunk?  I knew there was a tie in these two so I sought out a psychologist to help me figure myself out.  This man told me I’ve bottled everything up in my life and I used drugs and alcohol to ease the pain I’ve kept down inside all these years.  It all made sense to me now, it was maybe different for some, but I knew I didn’t want to end up like my mother or dad.  I was inspired by this man and realized what I wanted to do with my life.  I wanted to help people like this man did and to do this I needed schooling.  I knew I could get there easily so I aced high school and was easily accepted at the U of C where I am now majoring in psychology.  It doesn’t always just take someone to assess you and help you with your feeling, it’s a major turning point where you change paths and get on track.  Youth need a turning point in their lives…


The DoorwayComment
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I’m recently back on the bandwagon and in the NA program. Granted it’s only been a few weeks but I’m doing it and that’s what counts most. Basically what I’m trying to say is no matter what ppl may say behind your back, no matter how many peers doubt your success, no matter how many obstacles may challenge your persistence – don’t back down!

I’ve been falling off and getting back on this bandwagon for as long as I can remember but I know as long as I keep at it something is bound to give. Look at it this way – if you keep trying, something might ‘click’ & ‘stick’. If you stop trying and persistence doesn’t persist then where are you? – in the same dead end place you were before you even tried – nowhere!

I could go on rambling about the many reasons that not giving up is what counts but I’m afraid this would turn into a book. So I’ll close on this note: ‘My worst day clean is always better than my best day using.'

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Did you know a mother is the most important person in a girl's life?
Well what happens when a girl's mom isn’t the mom she's supposed to be?
What happens when a girl's mom is dead inside?
Leaving the girl to always worry and wonder how much longer her mom will last before she dies on the outside too?
I have the answer to these questions.
It hurts.
Your heart feels like it is being torn to shreds every time you think about it.
It's painful.
The pain's so excruciating that sometimes you wonder how you're still surviving. Sometimes you just want to jump out of your own skin, and run as far away as you possibly can.
It's sad.
Sometimes you cry. And sometimes you can't, because you've already spent all your tears on it.
Sometimes you feel so alone.
Sometimes you just want your mom to tell you everything will be ok...
Sometimes you wish you would wake up and it would all be a bad dream.
But you won't. And it isn't.
When it's hard to get out of bed, I still have to. When it's hard to go to work, I still have to.
When it's hard to live for myself, I find it in me to do it anyways. Because I have sisters. And they need me right now.
So I live on. Life goes on. And I make the best of it.
When my Mom falls deeper into addiction, I work harder on recovery.
Because that's all I can do.
Is survive and stay strong

As always we encourage you to comment and share your thoughts and learnings!

31 reasons why I am grateful to be clean
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1. I can love myself again
2. I can be there for my sisters
3. I’m healthy
4. I have a choice about the things I do
5. I have my own place with no roommates
6. I have money in the bank
7. I have emotions again
8. I can take custody of my sister when the time is right
9. I’m not dying
10. I am capable of respecting myself now
11. I can buy nice things
12. No hospital trips
13. No trips to the holding cell
14. I have a clean house
15. I can follow through with my plans and my goals
16. I quit smoking
17. My family doesn’t have to watch me destroy myself anymore
18. I can keep my promises
19. I have a decent job
20. I have my physical appearance back
21. I believe in myself again
22. I take proper care of my Kitty
23. I have nice teeth
24. I have nice clothes and tons of shoes!
25. Ppl aren't stealing from me every time I turn my back
26. I can say to myself "I did it!!!"
27. I can connect with other humans again
28. I can sleep every night
29. I pay my own rent and bills
30. I can spend Christmas with my family
31. I can do anything in the world now that I am clean

As always we encourage you to like, share and tell us your thoughts and learnings

Dear Mother,
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Dear Mother,

Thank you for never being anything but on my side and doing what was best for me, even when I didn’t believe that you weren’t doing it to spite me. I’ve come to see that you were always right. I’m sorry for my cruelty and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Thank you for letting me learn things the hard way, but also thank you for always knowing when I needed you most and never turning your back on me in those times. There’s nothing more that you could have done to try and save me and I’m so grateful that you’re understanding that I’m not ready to get better. I love you mom, forever I’m in your debt.

-Daughter of yours, 2018

As always we encourage you to comment and share your thoughts and learnings! 

A Poem I Wrote in Treatment
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There was nothing good about you
You tore me apart
You hypnotized me
You were my answer to all my faults

I'll never forget what you did to me
The pain and grief you caused
I can't believe how blinded I was
To see right past all of your flaws

At first you were a miracle
I was fooled by your disguise
You murdered my friends, you were murdering me
And I still stood by your side

If something was wrong,
You were there for me
No matter where I was,
Who I was with
What I was doing
What I had done...
You were there...

No matter how good I felt,
Or how bad I felt
You never left my side...

Until I said goodbye.

I never expected what you did to me
When I chose to say goodbye...

You left me

You left me feeling DEAD inside

You did this to me
We were supposed to be friends
You stabbed me in the back

Well friend, I promise you one thing only.

I chose life, not METH

As always we encourage you to comment and share your thoughts and learnings

My Choice
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I am an alcoholic and a drug addict. The reason that I am writing this is because I did something today that I never thought I would do in a million years. I ran into an associate of mine that I knew for quite a while. He had asked me if I wanted to go smoke a joint with him. Now, I have been clean and sober for a period of 22 days thus far. This period of sobriety was all my choice, and my choice to boot. The next thing I knew I was walking to the C-train with him. I can’t as much say what got me thinking this, but I started thinking about the consequences of me smoking a joint. Then I started thinking about what I’m really going to get out of it. The first thing I thought about was my girlfriend and how she would react to me being high. I knew right away that she would be pissed off. The thing that really gets me is that 22 days ago I wouldn’t have cared if she was mad or not, but for some reason this was a big concern of mine. I then really started thinking about what it would be like to be stoned, and I couldn’t think of anything positive about it. I realized that I don’t need drugs to feel good. I actually feel worse when I’m high because I know that I would feel alright with it while I was high, but when I come down, I know that I’ll start feeling guilty, ashamed, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to see my girlfriend while I’m high because she’ll know right way and I know that she’ll be choked. I then started thinking about what I’ll get out of it. Then I came up with the end result that nothing good would come out of it. It was then that my associate had said to me, I guess it depends on how much you want to smoke a joint. To tell you the truth I don’t really know what the conversation was that we were having that made him say those words but those nine words struck something in my head that made me realize that I really don’t want to risk all that I have worked for over the past 22 days for one simple joint. I feel real good about that because I have finally realized that drugs and alcohol don’t have the hold on me they once had. I’m finally starting to get a grasp of my life and it feels really good. I know now more than I have ever know, I do have the power to make choices. I also feel real good because I can honestly say that I made the right choice for the right reason. I don’t want any part of my life that I had with drugs and alcohol. I mean specifically being afraid that people are watching you, that people that love and care about you don’t exist, and with my sobriety comes love and respect from my girlfriend, and if that’s the only thing that I get out of this sobriety then that’s good enough because I wouldn’t trade that for a million dollars, or for anything else.

- Anonymous 

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Mental Recovery
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Mental Recovery

Although I’m stuck in what would feel like jail
I am refreshed and happy but really scared
I don’t know what’s going to happen out there
In a world that is not fair
I know I have to fight my way to the top without anything like a crutch
I know when I finally get there though
Ill be happy that I got help from the people that I know
How important it is to be straight and clean,
To succeed inner happiness that I’m finally getting in me

Hey, my name is Mike, and I would like to tell you something important to me. I have a drug problem that was controlling my life. I was powerless. I took drugs to try to kill my problems and all it did was make them worse. I needed help, so I went to treatment. This is the best thing I did. The poem up top is how I felt when I was there. I’m doing great now and I highly recommend going to treatment. So, if you have a drug or alcohol problem, please get help, because it will be the best things that you can do for you and your loved ones!

-          Smiling Brighter, 1995

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Leap of Faith
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Have you ever had to face your phobia? Well my phobia has lived with me for the past 13 years. It’s there when I wake up in the morning, it’s there when I go to sleep at night and everywhere in between. Can you guess what it is? It’s addiction and it’s the scariest thing I have ever encountered. Imagine being suspended off the highest building you could possibly think of with no safety nets, no support, nothing. Just empty land around you and if you were to scream no one would possibly be able to hear you. That’s just it, the only way to overcome addiction is within yourself and I have realized that now, that’s why I am choosing to take the leap of faith, the first step into this building, and check myself into detox. It’s been frightening, but there is nothing more frightening than living in a constant battle between bad and evil. There is no good, the only light or glimpse of hope is me. And with my potential I am brighter than any darkness or obstacle that will ever come in my way. Today is the last day I will live in darkness, for tomorrow will be light.

-          January 2018


As always, we encourage you to comment and share your thoughts and learnings!

Keep Progressing
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Keep Progressing because things are only going to get better from here on out...

I have learned that with time and effort you can change your whole world around if you believe that you can. Even when you don't think you can do it, you'll prove yourself wrong because it happened to me and I couldn't thank myself and others enough for it. My thinking has changed from negative and never believing in myself, to having belief and always knowing that I can do it if I put my mind to the task. If I didn't do that, I would of went no where fast. I've made a lot of changes and still have more to come. I found myself a house, now I am progressing towards a bigger house with a more pet-friendly vibe because I love my dogs. I am struggling with finding ways to make extra cash and saving up because the world we live in today is very expensive. I have overcome my negative thoughts, I mean, some say they are still in the distant fog but I always push through to become a better me. I am learning that it takes time and patience and a lot of perseverance. If there is anything that I can help someone with, I will do the best that I can and I will not leave their side until its accomplished because I am a caring human being and I don't want to see people go through what I went through. It's not fun and it's scary. My perspective to get off the streets: it takes determination and a lot of time and energy but if you believe you deserve it, you will make it come true and nobody can do that but you, so remember that. 

- Brian S. 2018



When you look at the world and they say no
Remember, there is always someone saying yes
When you reach for the door and it stays closed
Remember, there is one more being opened
When you look at the street and its all black and white
Remember, the tear you cried was blue
When you look at the child with no life inside
Remember, there is, just give him a chance
When you look at the wind, and it seems lost
Remember, in time once, so were you
When you look at the trees, and they want answers
Remember, there is always someone who will

- Anonymous, 1990


Looking at Yourself
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One day you will wake up and look in the mirror and smile; because you like what you see. Not necessarily what you look like, but who you are. If you can look in the mirror and love the person who looks back at you, you have made it. It's that person you have to look at each day, the person you have to please, accept how they feel and why they feel it. But, if for some strange reason, you don't like what you see, just think about all the good you've done as well as the bad. For that is who you are and what your past and your future is all about, what you're all about. And thats what life is all about, good and evil. The man is the mirror can tell you that. 

- Anonymous, 1990 

For You, By You
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This past April at our, Engaging Youth, Engaging Community event (, we heard about parents, professionals, volunteers and community members, value and belief in autonomy, ownership and self-accountability when raising and supporting young people. After the weekend, we explored our archives of over thirty years of written words and found additional perspectives from the young people themselves.  Have you heard of Self-Determination Theory? 

We were on to something that weekend... self-determination is not only important for youth but for all human beings. All of July, we will be exploring the topic: For You, By You, by sharing living knowledge about determination, empowerment and taking action. Tell us why self-care and self-determination is important to you and all of us. How do YOU think service providers/care givers - teachers, parents, youth workers, social workers and health care professionals - can create an environment in which they support self-advocacy and independent thinking in young people? 

This month we hope to create space to share and understand the importance of giving CHOICE and taking care of YOU. 

"The person I care most about is me because I owe it to myself" 
- A Participant

As always we encourage you to share, comment and tell us your thoughts and learnings!

Thank you for learning along side us!