Real Life Stories: Colin

Colin moved into Jarvis House over five years ago, and though it’s been a positive experience, his journey hasn’t been easy. After years of battling homelessness, securing housing has given Colin the opportunity to unleash his artistic ability. Now, through poetry and photography, Colin is learning to heal.

Born in London England, Colin moved to Canada when he was an infant.  Colin came from a dysfunctional family, who never instilled discipline or motivated him to reach for his goals. Alcohol and drug abuse, alongside issues with his mental health, eventually landed him in a men’s shelter in Toronto.

After becoming a Homes First resident, Colin was introduced to the arts by an occupational therapist who encouraged him to find valuable and useful ways to spend his time. He began writing poetry, and publishing them online, soon gaining some recognition for his work. Colin’s poems can often be found in resident newsletters, something he is proud of. 

“That first poem being published in the newsletter, it’s not a good poem but it felt great,” he says. “I’ve had people say really nice things about my poetry and that feels great.”

He’s also started to learn photography, exploring the city with a disposable camera and taking pictures of churches, trees and motorcycles (the motorcycles are his favourite). Though not an expert yet, he hopes to win the bursary from Wanda’s Arts Awards to put towards a digital camera and teach himself enough to start doing wedding photography.

“If you continue to learn and learn and learn, you’re going to get better. You don’t even have to learn a lot every day.”

Colin plans to continue his poetry and photography, since he loves both and doing them makes him happy. He’s recently made a promise to himself to stop using drugs and he no longer drinks alcohol. With the help of his doctor and Homes First, he is managing his mental health. He believes that implementing arts therapy programs is extremely important and is something that should be invested in.

“Whether you have talent or not, just encourage people to express themselves.”

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Homes First Administration Office, 90 Shuter Street, Suite 206, Toronto, ON M5B 2K6
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