Brian is in the first grade and he’s happily walking to school with his older sister in rural Manitoba. “I remember that the flowers there are every colour under the rainbow; they were so beautiful.” His father is a fisherman, and he loves living in the countryside. Then their house burns down.
Brian’s family relocated to the North End of Winnipeg, and his life took a very different course: foster homes, boy’s schools and eventually jail follow in succession, and addiction to drugs and alcohol start to take their toll. Throughout these challenges, Brian’s flint-like determination and strong faith in God see him through. He discovers a talent for poetry that he now wants to use to encourage people who are facing similar struggles. He describes his writing as something that he can barely contain: “It flows out of me like it’s not supposed to be there.” Flipping through his binder of poems, he explains how he would love to see his poems published into a book: not for personal gain, but as a comfort for others, “People that’s out there suffering, you know...I just (want to) give them some kind of encouragement.”
Brian has been a Christian since the age of 25, having been nurtured in his faith by both his grandmothers, who took him to church as a child: “...they were always praying for me,” he remembers. He is also strongly drawn to his Métis heritage, which continues to be the basis for his painting and jewellery making. With other leaders, he has worked on significant projects benefitting the Native community in Winnipeg, including a child care agency, a grocery store and a 40-unit housing project. He was also instrumental in organizing significant international cultural events. To his great credit, these projects are still going strong decades on - a testimony to Brian’s resolve to see lives improved for Native people.
At present, Brian lives in Salvation Army accommodation on Hastings Street. He is all too aware of the misery he sees around him in the V6A neighbourhood. Having recently recovered from Hep C with the help of cutting edge treatment, Brian’s concern and compassion for others is what now drives him forward. He has recently signed up for a two-year course that will qualify him as a street Minister, allowing him to give spiritual support to those whose lives he can very easily identify with. He has some wise advice for those seeking recovery: “Keep your eyes on the Cross. And the one good thing about it, He’ll never turn you away. No matter what you’re going through.”