Deryk’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018

Deryk, a member of Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services (DOPERS) in Surrey shares his homeless experiences during an interview for Homelessness Action Week

Oct. 7-13 is Homelessness Action Week in British Columbia

Please scroll down to read full transcript of the video!


Nancy – Hi! I’m Nancy. I’m with Diverse Organization Providing Education + Regional Services. We’re here asking questions and getting stories for the Homelessness Action Week.

Nancy – What’s your name?

Deryk – Deryk and Nickname, I go by…most people know me as Xavier

Nancy – What’s your age?

Deryk – 52

Nancy – Where do you come from?

Deryk – Come from Alberta.

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Deryk – Right now Surrey

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Deryk – Yes I am

Nancy – How did that start?

Deryk – I got to a point where my mental state and such… made it more or less impossible for me to work.

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Deryk – Going on 27 years total

Nancy – Tell us about your journey?

Deryk – I came from Alberta, came here to be with some friends, start a new career, new job and when we arrived here, myself and my wife…things didn’t quite work out the way we had planned…came to Surrey and got involved with the strip hoping to make a difference whether it’s a big change or small change…get some of the young children off from here that don’t need to be here

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Deryk – Don’t quite always play by the rules and I want to stand up for what’s right….

Nancy – Where do you live right now?

Deryk – Wherever I happen to fall asleep…whether it’s under a tree, sitting by my cart…in a door step, corner of a business, back alley…anywhere

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Deryk – Have to watch your have to worry about the weather, you have to worry about when you are going to get your next meal…you have to worry about who you can trust and who you can’t…who you let in close..who you let know where you are or where your things are…I found my cart turned upside down…I found things.. artwork and coloring that I do…
torn up and thrown on the ground because to them it is of no value but to me it’s a memory…it’s difficult.

Nancy – Where do you sleep at night?

Deryk – Any place that I can find that’s warm and out of the elements…sometimes it’s not the greatest…I’ve had rain drips on me..I’ve had snow

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Deryk – Not really…I’m afraid to close my eyes because you don’t know who or what’s going to come at you

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Deryk – Yes…I had no childhood…single mother…she did the best she could…Alcoholic…I was born an right now I don’t know if my family knows if I’m alive or dead

Nancy – How would you describe your feelings about being homeless?

Deryk – has its ups and downs

Nancy – How do you do you make money? How do you get money to eat?

Deryk- Odd jobs, I pick bottles, I go through bins…it’s not a lot by far…my bottles..I’m lucky if I make $5 a day…most times it’s $2…I don’t smoke cigarettes…my drugs…well…I take them when I can get them….it’s hard because I am an addict.

Nancy – Are you on welfare?

Deryk – Just got on Welfare this year.

Nancy – Are they helping you find a place to live?

Deryk – Welfare, no

Nancy – Does sleeping where you do and the way that you are make it hard to keep a job?

Deryk – Yes, very much so..for myself…getting proper sleep, being health is not the greatest and it’s difficult to be clean, have your clothes done all the time, be fed nourishment…you need that to be able to need sleep to be able to function properly on the job…if your employer finds out you are living on the streets…nine times out of’re no longer have a job

Nancy – What do you look forward to each day?

Deryk – There’s not much besides waking up to my wife…in reality …a lot of times…it’s not good to say but I wish I don’t wake up…because it’s hard…hard to look at myself in the mirror…look at myself

Nancy – Why

Deryk – I feel sometimes I could do better but the opportunities aren’t there and I feel I’m failing …failing humanity…failing myself….I don’t know…bad choices…

Nancy – What is the hardest part of living in an tent?

Deryk – Keeping warm…keeping dry..keeping rats away..the animals…spiders…nature itself…I’ve had 7 spider bites so far that I’ve had to deal with…I didn’t even know…I didn’t even feel them…go to the hospital…you tell them you’re homeless…they don’t want to deal with you…want to get you out of there as quick as possible…it’s hard…I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody. One lady looked at me and she said she envied me..She said “You get to live in a tent and camp everyday”. I said “Ma’am, I’ll tell you something…you can camp everyday   but when you go get to go home to a roof over your head and a warm bed, a bathtub and 3 square meals.” I said “I don’t go anywhere…my camping is everyday..I have to deal with the rain…the weather…the wind..the storms…battening down your tent….to make sure you keep warm.”

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter, finding housing?

Deryk –  Financial one because the cost out here is atrocious but just getting around…even to have references for rental…because again if I walked up right now as I am..the chances of me getting to rent a room would be slim to none.

Nancy – What is the most challenging part of the day?

Deryk – getting to where my meals are and remembering the time…being aware of the time because if you miss them…it could be 12 hours before your next meal.

Nancy – Do you feel there is a sense of community within the homeless?

Deryk – Some yes, some no…it’s like high school…you have your cliques.

Nancy – Can you tell us something about yourself nobody else knows?

Deryk – I’ve a big heart

Nancy – What’s the worst perception people have of the homeless?

Deryk – That we’re all drug addicts, drunks and the undesirables of life

Nancy – What do you miss the most?

Deryk – A warm bed and a bath tub…take a soak in a tub…I haven’t taken a soak in 7 years

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless?

Deryk – Awareness and people to come together and help. Talk to us like a human being…treat us like anybody else.

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Deryk – Little more counseling

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Deryk – It’s Heroin…so I can function and do what I need to do to survive…I use it for as a pain..what I call my pain regimen

Nancy – What are some stressful situations that you deal with everyday? How did you get food, water, how do you shower?

Deryk – I use the bathroom at the mall to do a sponge bath

How do you keep healthy?

Deryk – I go to the doctors as much as I can

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Deryk – Honor, respect and loyalty

Nancy – What is the best part of your day?

Deryk – Cup of coffee in the morning

Nancy – Do people really want to solve the homelessness issue?

Deryk –  I don’t think so…they want to hide us

Nancy – What does the future look like? What are your hopes and wishes for yourself?

Deryk – People realize we need help..we need more things out there to guide us…and work with us to prepare us to come back again into the real world…some of them have been out here for 20 years…some of them have been out here for most of their life.

Nancy – Where do you keep your belongings?

Deryk – In a shopping cart and as close to me as possible

Nancy – When was your last steady job?

Deryk – was 17 years ago

Nancy – What was it?

Deryk – I was a cook…prior to that…I worked in the drilling rigs for 22 years

Nancy – When was the last time they slept in a bed that wasn’t in a shelter?

Deryk – That’s got to be 15 years now

Nancy – Do you have any kids?

Deryk – Yes I do..I have 2 children

Nancy – Can you give me one sentence to sum up your current situation that you’re in now.

Deryk -Trying, devastating and difficult

Nancy – If you could tell your story to Premier Horgan or Prime Minister Trudeau, what would you say?

Deryk – I’d ask for help..just give me a little bit of help and give me some support.

Nancy – Do you have any final thoughts?

Deryk – I hope I see a bit of a change…and I hope my story will help…I change one life down here in 7 years…a young girl who was a drug user here…she thought she killed me because I went down…I overdosed..I quit breathing…I died. When I came to..she was in the corner of the tent sitting there going “Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God” and I looked at her and said “It’s Ok…I’m back…I’m here.” Seven days later she saw me again and she quit doing drugs, went back to school, went back home. So I changed one life…. minorly but I changed one life…and now I’m happy because I succeeded in one thing…that’s all I ever wanted to do..affect somebody, somewhere even if it’s the smallest made me feel good.

Nancy.- Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Deryk – Thank you

Nancy – Really appreciate it

Deryk – I’ve enjoyed it. I’m thankful for you guys

Deryk – Just hopes it helps…I really do…I don’t want them sweeping people underneath the carpet..I don’t want them forgetting about us

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