Wanda’s Arts Awards 2019: Valentina (2nd place winner)

When outreach workers found Valentina living in a tent in a North York park, she was surrounded by $7,000 worth of leather scrolls, each of them covered in handwritten Bible verses. She describes herself as “awakening, recovering on the other side.” For her, creating those scrolls is what made her healthy again.

“The process of emotional healing was really, really painful.”

Valentina lost her father at 10 and began using art a way to hide from the pain of loss, and dealing with what she describes as losing her soul.

Valentina became well known in Russia and Romania for her art and has lived all over the world, managing and operating various businesses to help support her younger siblings. She came to Canada 12 years ago and had multiple businesses, but a bad relationship sent her into a spiral.

“Before you know it I lost my business, I lost my clientele, I lost everything and found myself in the park.”

After connecting with outreach workers, Valentina lived in a shelter for close to a year before being housed at Homes First’s Shuter building three months ago. She has started to get back into her art, creating violin music and painting, and hopes that soon she can work or volunteer in a place where she can help women fleeing abuse.

“Somehow I’m going to figure it out.”

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