By Steffanie Costigan
Alberta Newspaper Group
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like living on the streets, wondering if you will be able to receive the opportunity of a meal.
Secure, Assist, Guard, and Engage (SAGE) Clan Patrol shared the challenges homeless individuals face daily at the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA) May 25.
The founder of Lethbridge’s SAGE Clan, Mark Brave Rock, was one of the guest speakers. He talked about the vital part Indigenous people play in the community and the understanding needed.
“We are part of the community, and we are big, we are a vital part of this community. Right now we’re mired in drugs and addictions, and it’s still happening and it’s only getting worse. And so that crisis first began as a cry for help. And it’s that cry that is still here. We are still asking for some understanding. We’re not asking to be to be treated special, but understand where we come from,” said Brave Rock.
Brave Rock shared his family’s personal history with the residential schools and how damaging that experience was to their identity.
“I saw the loss of identity.”
He spoke on addictions, circumstances resulting into individuals becoming homeless, and the role SAGE plays within helping the homeless.
Karen Smith-Myles, a volunteer with SAGE, said her experience patrolling with SAGE and the gratitude she has witnessed among the homeless.
“I experience nothing but gratitude from the people that are on the street. And we’re giving a very simple lunch, just a sandwich, maybe some orange slices, some chips, nothing big. But people are so grateful for what they’re given. They’re forgiving when at times, we don’t have enough to go around,” said Smith-Myles.
SAGE Clan is operated through donations. Their mission is to not only provides lunches to the homeless but specialize in helping those that struggle with addiction, says Brave Rock.
“What’s more important is getting the people out of there that don’t want to be there. But I’ve been forced in a way to be there to have had no way of knowing how to live. In five years, we have succeeded. And now I can safely say I have arrived to make sure that I am OK to say this. I know, honestly 21 people are not on the streets out here. And I don’t know how we did it safe, man. But they got away from this drug that just grabs the person’s heart, mind, body, and soul”
SAGE is always welcoming new volunteers or donations at chuffed.org.
Attendee Terry Shillington asked for more details on Brave Rock’s thoughts about the supervised consumption site.
Brave Rock gave his opinion on the impact the site had.
“The consumption site, it was a in my opinion, it was brought up to fast and again did not study the effects it would have had it. The demographic was not studied. It created more addicts than you did save lives.”
Brave Rock shared the importance of understanding without judging and the impact it has on families.
“I am addressing the importance of understanding what really happens, and I am not the only one person. I know I am not the only one person this has happened to. I am not the only one burying their kids.”