Meet Natalie
December 14, 2021
Meet Christine
August 24, 2021

Meet Jo

“I got into drugs and was almost killed.

But because of you, this is the first place I’ve been safe since I was 17 years old.”

My name’s Jo, and I’m a metis woman. I grew up in Winnipeg. I have two boys and three grandsons who live in Saskatchewan.

I’ve been living at one of Cornerstone’s housing residences for a year now. This is the first home where I’m safe and get to heal and become the woman I’m meant to be.

At least three or four times a week, I walk around thinking, “Oh my god, this is my place, and I’m safe.” This is the first place I’ve been safe since I was 17.

For me, this is heaven. Some look at me and say wow, I wish I was as strong as you. And I think I wish I didn’t have to be. I wouldn’t wish this strength on anyone. I wasn’t given a choice. My strength comes from the darkness I’ve survived. Darkness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So, I’ll thank you for the compliment as I wish for you to never learn my strength.

I was in an abusive marriage for years and finally found the strength to leave. Life just took a wrong turn, and I got into drugs and was almost killed. I came here to start over.

I’m so appreciative that I get this opportunity to have a safe place and to heal. And be a better person. Be the woman I was meant to be.

It’s because of donors like you that women with trauma, violence, or mental health challenges get an opportunity to find hope and healing from the day-to-day crisis they’ve been experiencing.

This holiday season, you have a chance to help a woman in crisis find their light to shine brightly again. Please consider sending in a special gift this holiday and have your gift matched up to $40,000 from a generous anonymous donor.

Meet Jo

Last Christmas at Cornerstone was actually the last Christmas since I left my kids. That was over eight years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t have any contact with my family. I’m on my own.

So last Christmas was really nice. You don’t feel alone here at Cornerstone. There’s a community. We come together, and we do stuff as a family for the holidays.

There’s a closeness here. Everyone has an understanding that everyone’s broken. Everyone’s on their path of healing. There’s a community, no judgment, and just love. Everyone has seen the worst of the worst here.

On my first Christmas morning here, I opened my door to find a present there waiting for me. It was really sweet to have something to open and something for me from a complete stranger. I thought, wow, it’s so kind and generous. Thank you for making Christmas morning a little easier. Usually, I’d sleep all day. It’s been a hard holiday to get through since I left my kids.

My favourite memories of the kids were over the holidays when I would wake them up in the morning and tell them Santa left them a present.

I loved seeing their faces light up as they opened their Christmas presents, and we would just spend the day together watching all the Harry Potter movies or anything they got as a present.

Christmas Eve actually used to be the special day at our house as we’d watch The Elf and the Santa Claus movies and the Christmas story. There were many Christmases when I used to have to work, so we’d spend Christmas Eve watching movies together. We would snuggle up and laugh together. When I had Christmas off, we would eat, nap, and watch movies together.

I loved making Christmas dinner from scratch, right to the cranberry sauce and stuffing.

It took me a long time to enjoy the holidays again, but because of community members like you, I now am happy to wake up for Christmas. Thank you for helping me find joy again.

My kids are hurt from me leaving, of course. But, once I’m healed, I hope to reconnect with my kids.

I’m grateful for Cornerstone’s Clinical chaplain, Hilary, who has helped me with trauma therapy. She’s been amazing, she’s open and understanding. She’s helped me get through my trauma and is really helping me to heal from my past.

I have been really focused on taking care of myself. I heal myself. I sit in my darkness. I learn from it. So, when it comes back again, I know what I need to do for myself to deal with it. I’m standing in my truth. I’ve accepted the things I’ve done wrong.

Self-care for me is my poetry, meditation, and smudging. I participated in a women’s retreat through Minwaashin Lodge, where we got to really focus on ourselves, I did a sweat lodge and many other activities to reconnect me to my culture.

I’m amazed at how far I’ve come in just one year compared to where I was when I got here. I’ve had 30 years or more of abuse, but I’m told that’s how long it also takes to heal.

To take care of myself, I love to write poetry and craft. Doing crafts has been a huge part of my healing.

 I can make something out of nothing. I do origami. I’ve made these angel wings.

 My wings were clipped for so long. I couldn’t shine. I always had to dim my light. To me, my angel wings represent my freedom.

Pink is also my favourite colour. My wings are big and bright. My light is bright. I’m not dimming myself anymore. This is me; it’s who I’m going to be. It’s a big thing for me.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the caring staff, my work on myself, and for you. I couldn’t be the woman I’m meant to be if weren’t for the support of donors like you. This holiday season, please consider giving a special gift and help another woman find her wings and shine brightly.

Jo and Paul with Rosey Edeh on CTV morning live

Jo and Paul with Rosey Edeh on CTV morning live

I’m doing really good. I’ve reconnected with an old friend. My first love, in fact. I always thought about him here and there. Whenever things weren’t good, he always thought about me too.

When we met, we were just teens in love, and he lived on the reserve, so we’d talk on the phone for hours. It’s been over thirty years since we’ve seen each other, and we’ve luckily been reconnected. He’s been such a rock in my life and cares so much for me. He told me no one would ever hurt me again. He felt horrible about how my ex had treated me.

We’ve always had some connection, but we’ve also had our own journeys, our own kids, and now we’ve found our way back to each other.

I’m on a really positive path. I never thought I could be this happy.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason.

I believe there’s a reason that you’re reading my story. You’ve read about the incredible impact donors like you have had on women’s lives at Cornerstone, and I believe we’ve met through this letter for a reason.

I hope you will help another woman like me this holiday season who’s in crisis at Cornerstone’s shelter, looking for a way to find her light again, and hoping a donor like you is on the other side of this letter.

Please consider sending in a special holiday gift. Plus, every gift given up to $40,000 will be doubled. This is the time to make someone’s holiday wish come true.

Thank you for believing in me, thank you for bringing light into my life and giving me a community of friends at Cornerstone. I wouldn’t be as good as I am right now without this place. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

You’ve given me the chance to be the woman I was meant to be. You’ve helped me on my journey of healing. You have helped me stand beautifully flawed.

I know that your gift can help another woman find healing, hope, and housing.

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season.

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