Testimonial by Hal

I was born on a dairy farm in Manitoba. Many good friends were in my life, and I rode horses. I quit school at 15 years oldbecause the principal said I was better off if I did. Admittedly, I was a shit disturber anyways. So, I worked on my dad’sfarm until I was 23 years old. It was then that I lost Darryl and Kelly, Jeff and Lori, and Ivan who died all within months of each other. We were all in the same grade together, so I was grieving like crazy.

That is when I killed someone that I loved. I hadn’t dealt with my emotions very well. I got a life sentence and was able to apply for parole after 10 years.

 

After that, I worked with a trucking company for at least 10 years. I operated an excavator and other heavy equipment. I broke my parole conditions several times. At one point, I was quite influenced by my environment and agreed to go out for drinks one night. I ended up back at Stony Mountain for another 10 years for that breach.

I’ve been out for almost a year now. I lived in Manitou halfway house and now I’m living in my own apartment after getting full parole. I like it here and it is close to the halfway house where I have good support. I just gotta keep my shit straight because I could go back for a long time.

There are also some challenging health issues I must deal with. I had more than one stroke and have lost my ability to remember things, especially if I feel stress. But I do want to work again. My parole officer also suggested to me to volunteer at Siloam Mission or someplace like that where I can spend my time usefully. I’m still figuring that out now.

I have two grandchildren, one was just born in January, and I love them to death. I get to visit them from time to time but it is hard during the pandemic. I get a lot of support from my two daughters along with their mom and her husband whom I have become friends again. They do lots of things for me, like bring groceries over.

I attended Next Step at the old place (convention Ross) a few years ago when I was applying for day parole. I was denied but have come since getting parole this time.

 

I like the way the guys share everything. Like when they get into the workforce and tell you about their experiences. I don’t feel like I’m the only guy going through the transition back to the community. Not only do I like hearing from the guys but the volunteers too. One volunteer talked about how he got a job. Unfortunately, I haven't attended <group> since January because I only have a flip phone and no data. We tried our best to make it work but it was just too awkward. I’m still in touch with Kathleen and she has been assisting with getting stuff for my place. I plan to come back as soon as Next Step meets in person again.

With heartfelt gratitude for supporting Next Step,

Hal

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Testimonial by Grant

I had an average childhood. There was drinking involved and I can’t say that I was neglected but there were a lot of people in the house. Dad got abusive to my mom and she moved back to her reserve. Us kids were distributed to foster homes. First I was put with a woman who couldn’t have children. I sure got a beating a lot from her. But I did learn to chop wood and shovel. I did whatever it took though I eventually got into trouble. It was 70% bad and 30% good, and always hectic.

 

My mom eventually collected all her kids together except for me because she felt sorry for the childless woman. This is when I rebelled and felt that no one wanted or loved me.

 

I quit listening to the rules, ran away more and really got in trouble with the law. I complained that my foster mother beat me and for that, got a lickin’ of a life time. When I was 12 years old, I ran back to my mom. I explained what was happening to me. My mom pushed me to forgive and almost sent me back to her. Being home with my family didn’t change things much and I was put into Green Pastures Christian Home, a place for youth.

I straightened out there and appreciated the animals. It was life changing because I finally saw that God was always present in my life. I learned that drinking and violence were not the way to go. I also started to see it was important that I change for me, not anybody else. A German family took me in for 7 years where I did good. I saw the rewards of doing well and that it was worth the effort.

 

The family took me traveling around the world to the USA and to Switzerland. When I got older, I thought that I had let go of the past and my issues were resolved but they all came back. Drinking caused a rift between me and the family and I had to leave. I moved to BC to make it on my own where I explored the mountains and worked. Loneliness overcame me and so I decided to go home. All the evil spirits came back. I blacked out after drinking and in that time, pulled something out of a hat. It wasn’t a bunny rabbit but a snake. To sum it up, I’ve been treading water ever since. I want to learn to trust and know that it is there.

 

In prison, I went to AA and realized I built walls when I drank. When I’m sober I see the pain and am learning to stop putting myself down. I’m at 60% good and 40% bad now.

 

In March, I leave the halfway house to move to Quixote House. I want to go to school to learn an electrical trade and hope my reserve will sponsor me. Eventually, I want my son to come live with me.

 

Next Step is about integration and I feel accepted there. Even though the group is multicultural, I am curious about the Catholic aspect. Also, there have been experiences of confidence broken in my life and so hoping to build some trust here. Since staying sober is the key for me, the clean and sober influence of the group and Quixote House will help further my hopes for the future.

Thanks for supporting the group.

With gratitude,

Grant