When Jordan was 13 he started to use drugs, which led to him hanging around the streets at night.
“You can’t go home [high] at three in the morning or your parents will question you. Slowly, I started living at friends’ houses… then, when you can’t find a friend to stay with and you don’t want to go home, you end up sleeping outside rather than going home.”
While he started using before high school, his use escalated throughout high school as he was introduced to heavier drugs. He went to school all over Canada, because he kept getting kicked out of school for using drugs, or he’d run away from school and not go back.
“You get bored of the same high—you want something stronger.”
He ended up in Ottawa, and saw an old friend of his. She showed him around downtown, and they ended up at YSB’s Downtown Drop-In.
“The first time I came, way back, I was underage, and one of the staff said he’d have to call my parents to get consent, so I left and didn’t come back until I returned to Ottawa. Even then, I was giving a fake name, and when they found out, I was impressed because they weren’t upset or angry, they just talked to me about it and let me continue to access the services.”
Jordan was coming to YSB, in part, to meet other street-involved youth, so he’d have people he trusted to sleep outside with. “It’s the safest place to be, so why not come back?” He says he’s met a lot of his good friends here. He’s been coming here every day for a year—which has led, in part, to his recent achievements.
He was eventually referred to the YSB’s Young Men’s Emergency Shelter, and has since been referred to Second Stage Housing at the YMCA by the housing worker at the Downtown Drop-In. He has also been referred to Operation Come Home’s Achievement Centre, to continue his high school. He’s working on his last two credits right now, something which he never saw himself doing.
Jordan has plans to move out to Western Canada to make his fortune once he gets his high school finished. He got on social assistance while staying at the Young Men’s Shelter because a worker from Ontario Works comes in to assist people with the application process.
“I want to keep going out west every couple of years, to build up some money, and then come back and live off of it.” Pretty cool idea, Jordan! Any advice for other youth?
“Drugs always make it worse, not better… I wish we could make everyone in the world get along a little bit more.”
Can you remember one particular struggle and how you got through it?
“Apparently, I went on a four-day crack binge, starting on a Thursday night… I woke up on Monday morning with broken fingers and hands. So I came to the YSB Drop-in, but at that point I was banned, yet they still supported me to get medical help. They also intervened to help me stop from going back to using crack… I can’t imagine what could have happened if they weren’t there that day.”
He’s been going to Narcotics Anonymous, and has never looked back.