Stories written by workshop participants on how The Affinities Group has changed their lives.
My name is Gabrielle. I am from Eden Valley, Alberta. I am a member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. I am a single mother to three beautiful children. Although I grew up on the reserve, I now make Calgary my home. My life has been like a yoyo, so many ups and downs, I was always in turmoil. Today, now...I live life just for the moment. My life was unmanageable and out of control, it is a miracle I am still alive today. My struggles go way back to my childhood but I will save that for another day. This chapter of my life started October 2011 when I signed up for the Eden Valley Employment Training Program. It made me realize that I needed to make some changes and being homeless on the rez had a major impact on me. The program reminded me of what I was missing in life. I needed that taste of reality!!!! I did not make the changes immediately but something had opened up. HOPE
The day Child and Family Services came into my life and took it...or so I thought was February 2012. This is where my years of struggling with addictions had brought me. Watching my little boy being led out the door and into a waiting car crushed me, a dagger was ripping through my heart. Even after going through this horrible life experience I continued my love affair with the many faces of the bottle. My life was being dictated by that small, magical Rx pad. I was in denial and I allowed my demons to take control. I even thought my codependency with my partner would help...it only made things worse. My famous words were "I dont need treatment, I can quit whenever I want" or "my Dr. prescribes them." While I was being selfish, my little boy is sitting in a strange home. March 24,2012 I was broken in every way you can imagine. I found
myself at a local drop in center. I was homeless, alone, scared, addicted...I was lost...I no longer had my dignity. On April 5, 2012 my angels found me and they have never left my side. My angels led me to a wonderful addictions treatment centre, and celebrated my completion with my son by my side. While in treatment I was able to accept my disease and learned to forgive myself, the guilt and shame I had endured. Seeking therepy helps a lot. I learned support is ok, and even saw one of the instructors from the Eden Valley Training program there supporting one of her team! Throughout the days and months I was fortunate to remain in close contact with my child by being granted three hour visits three days a week, it had to be earned. My baby came home on October 5,2012. I am still on my journey, it hasn't been easy. There have been moments where I wanted to throw in the towel, but my fear overwhelms me...my fear of losing my children for good. Today I am proud to say I am clean and sober, I live one day at a time. I am enjoying the benefits of recovery and my life has become very productive. I have an address!!! I have regained my dignity, my integrity and I am able to love uncondtionally. I have been truly blessed and grateful for caring people coming into my life the way they did because the thought of losing my heart saved my life
I am a member of Piikani Nation. The affinities program changed the way I look at and feel about life. I had a lot of ups and downs growing up, but after taking part in the Youth Initiative Program that weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It changed my life.
When I was fifteen, I moved away from home. It was a struggle finding a place to live, as well as finding work. In 2008, my mom was diagnosed with a disease called Gillian. For three years she fought for her life but sadly passed away in March. My dad is also sick, with a bone disease, and is unable to work. When my mom passed I was really crushed. I just felt like giving up on life. Soon, I stopped caring about anything or anyone. I separated from my girlfriend because of the bad decisions I was making.
Despite hardships such as addiction, I applied and attended Bow Valley College in 2009, to get the rest of my high school credits. I met a beautiful woman named Cheyenne Many Heads, she helped me get on my feet, and showed me how to live successfully and survive in the real world.
When my son was born, I started to give a lot of thought to what I wanted my life to be like in the future. I wanted to be a great role model and set a great example for him. I began to think about him finishing his education and having a better childhood than I did.
Moving back to the Piikani nation changed my life, because I had the opportunity to take this program. The Youth Program gave me a chance to bond with others, and learn team work. It was a big success for me.
I thank Deb, Dar, Renee, and Herkey for changing my life. If it weren’t for the Youth Initiative Program I would still be heading down a bad road in my life and not making anything of myself.