Chasing The Dragons Fire

He was eight-years-old when his 35-year-old father died of a heart attack.  That moment changed his life forever.  His dad was his hero and the man his mother replaced him with was an abusive alcoholic.  He started to rebel and started experimenting with drugs at the age of 9.   Everything spiraled after that and his drug use was getting out of control so much so that at the age of 15, he landed himself in jail for two years.  After he got out, he boarded a bus, and for 5 years after, called the streets of East Hastings, Vancouver, his home.

Every day was the same and the crunch of the dirty needles beneath his boots echoed through the alleys as he pushed his shopping cart in search of bottles and cans.  The stench of urine and garbage filled his nostrils but he didn’t care, chasing the dragons fire was all that was on his mind.

East Hastings has a way of luring lost souls inflicted with addictions, homelessness and mental health to its streets.  A place you can lose yourself and your identity, a place you only exist for self-destruction.  Somehow there is freedom of not being found until death lays his hand upon your shoulder and says, “come with me”.

He realized this was not his life; he was just trying to escape from the pain of his childhood, a childhood where the sky turned from blue to black in one night.

He felt humiliated and disgusted and knew his days were numbered. His life was spinning out of control and he didn’t have the strength to stop it until one day he did.

He reached out for help.  He called his mother who flew to Vancouver and returned him back to Ontario to start his recovery process.

His story has a happy ending but not everyone’s does.  Inspired by his life and recovery he wanted to make a difference in others and has made it his life’s work to raise awareness and inspire change to stop the cycle of youth homelessness.

Photo and story by UNTOLD Contributor, Lorna Dancey.