Testimonial by Moe

I am excited to be doing this interview to share with you how Future Hope and Next Step have impacted my life. I grew up in rural Manitoba on a farm a few hours from Winnipeg. My memories of being a kid involve lots of outdoor fun, hard work, lots of involvement in growing crops and helping with the animals. I enjoyed hard work but always saw it as just what we did as a family. Our family worked together, went to school and clothes shopping and we bought new things to improve our farm. No family is perfect; I argued with my siblings I am sure, and I mismanaged myself as a young person. I had a lot of temper and anger issues, and I am not even sure why. I had no way to express my emotions and I did not realize that it was ok to be angry and sad, but it was not ok to act out on it. My anger eventually got me into serious trouble. I did not stop to ask for help and I eventually went to jail for 11 years. I pushed away anyone who wanted to help me, and I realize now I scared people away who cared about me.

I entered the youth system for several years followed by 7 years in Stony Mountain. It was the scariest time of my life entering Stony Mountain. I was forced to grow up very quickly to adapt to living in the institution.

What I learned most while being incarcerated is that family is the most important thing in the world. My family are the only ones who stayed with me. They wrote to me and never lost belief in me and my future. I have learned that people who support me need to be kept close. People I often thought were my friends were not. It is my continued goal to surround myself with family and good support and stay away from negative influences and negative people.

I first heard about Next Step while I was in the minimum and I would see Kathleen visiting other inmates. I was scared to approach her although she seemed very nice and helpful. I got a new Parole officer who then suggested I join Next Step and I began meeting with Kathleen. When we first started visiting it was awesome…. a positive person to visit with and like visiting with a family member.

Once I was released on parole, I started going to the Next Step peer support group in the community and honestly, if it wasn’t for the group and the support, I may have gone back to Stony. Kim came and helped me, and I feel so comfortable with the group. It has helped me not feel overwhelmed. Group is a nice safe space to be. We do different things each week. Even if it’s not a topic I think I need to learn about I always end up learning something. We do a lot of sharing, and it’s good to know that others have gone through many of the things I have gone through.

I don’t live at Quixote House, but I am able to visit there and have attended some Friday night community meals. It is a positive and helpful space, and there are always guys there to help. Everyone is kind and friendly. I would like to live there one day once I am able to leave the halfway house. I see Quixote house as a halfway house but without the halfway house, if you know what I mean!

Today was my first day at my new job, and I was so excited! I am a hard worker and want to give back to the community, but especially I want to fix and work on giving back to my family for the years I have missed with them. I cannot undo what I have done, but I can go forward into the future being the best person I can be.

I am thankful for my support … my family, and the Next Step support and group. I would have given up. I have positive people in my life who help me problem solve, and this will ensure I can continue to do good.

It was hard for me to go for parole as I was not supported to do so, but now I am doing awesome. I could have gone down the drain after my crime, but I am not that person. I am kind and compassionate and one of a kind. Something kept me going after I went to prison. I could have died or gone to drugs. I was in pain and perhaps that would have been a reason to do that. Instead, I kept going for my family and for myself.

In my spare time, I love to do beadwork, exercise, go for walks, do gardening, do outdoor activities, fishing, dirt biking, swimming, cooking, and bake.

This summer, I look forward to spending time with my family. I met my niece and nephew for the first time recently, and it was so awesome. I look forward to all the good things I will do in the future.

Sincerely, Moe

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