Testimonial by Moe

Testimonial by Pizza Boy

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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Hi my name is Pizza Boy and I am happy to share with you a bit about my life, the ups and downs and how Next Step and Quixote House have been such a wonderful addition to my life.

I came to Canada when I was only a year old, and my parents worked very hard to create a wonderful life and upbringing for myself and my brother. My dad worked two jobs and my parents were always good to us. My parents spoke very little English and when I started school, I did not speak a lot of English, so I got bullied a lot and began to be ashamed of my nationality. I eventually took some ESL classes and had some wonderful teachers and then I began to excel in school. My brother and I were close growing up however that changed when my lifestyle began to change. It took me some years, but I became proud of my heritage, language and culture!

In our family there was no violence and no drinking or drugs. It was me who brought it into our home, and this created many issues for me and my family. My family loved me and tried everything to help me while I was involved in drugs and violence and they were always worried I would die. I was arrested in 1989 and received a very long prison sentence for drugs which I served 1/3 of my sentence. When I got out, I felt I was free, however, I returned to a life which soon led me to becoming a drug addict as well as a continued involvement in the sale of drugs.

The next 30 years I spent on and off involved in drugs and prison, and I never gave sobriety a chance. If I had times of being clean, they were short lived. My parents never gave up on me and I often took advantage of them and for that I am not proud.

It took me all those years, but I am now clean and sober and doing it not for others but for myself. Which means I am a better person for others. My dad passed away while I was incarcerated, and I have had to learn how to grieve. I needed to change and the time was now upon me. I was not going to continue in this lifestyle. I have had to learn to fill my life with joy and nothing else. My mom is still my best friend, and I am proud of myself that I am strong enough to keep on the right path. Any grieving I need to do in the future I will be stronger and able to grieve in a healthy way.

My opportunity for change came after my dad died and I was moved to the minimum security of Stony Mountain. There were less difficulties to deal with, and I began to see changes in myself in leaps and bounds. My brother whom I thought I lost due to my lifestyle is now my friend and we are now in a good place. The relationship I have with him, and my mom reinforces what I did to change.

It is not easy to change after the years I have been incarcerated as I am institutionalized and, a person can get comfortable in the prison environment.

Next Step began visiting with me in minimum at Stony Mountain and they have been a continual support for me on my journey. Now that I am in the community, and I attend our weekly NS groups I have met good people who are like family to me as they have lived like me or sometimes in even more difficult circumstances. I see others who have made it and that continues to inspire me to keep going.

Next Step and Quixote House offer me acceptance. I can't say this enough. To be accepted is incredible. They offer support, a place for me to be me. To unwind, and to feel a part of something in my life. I feel a bond with others, and I love the people who are in our community. We joke around and I am a very social person who likes to make others laugh. This is what I get when I attend group or stay at Quixote House. At Quixote House even though there is a lot of guys, we also get our space to “just be”.

I appreciate being able to mentally prepare for work as I have not worked for over 30 years. I am currently employed and just finding my place there. I am starting to interact at work, and it feels good.

For fun I love to laugh, cook, hang out with family and friends and to watch sports like hockey or football. I am thankful for my sobriety, and my family, the Next Step and Quixote House community I have around me. With using all I have learned in prison I am now being able to use that in a prosocial way which will only help me get further in life!

Kind regards, Pizza Boy