Meet Suson
April 20, 2023

Meet *Kris

“I went from a life of not fitting in, struggling with drugs, alcohol, depression, and not having a home to having a community and support that puts a smile on my face.”

Kris was born and raised in Ottawa. Her journey through life has been marked by hardships and resilience. Kris’s childhood was marred by the separation of her parents, loss, and the challenges of foster care.

At the tender age of eight, she lost her father to cancer, her mother took to drugs which led to her abandoning her family.

Left in the custody of her grandmother who had dementia and soon after was put in a nursing home.

Kris had nowhere else to go but to a foster home at 9 years old.

Since then, she was moved around between many foster homes. From a foster family that treated her as an outsider to another where she faced racism and neglect, Kris’s early experiences were far from nurturing. She navigated through different homes, each with its own set of demands, challenges, and struggles. From washing dishes for an entire household to enduring emotional abuse, Kris’s resilience was tested repeatedly.

Despite enduring these hardships, Kris carried on, grappling with her identity, weight issues, and a struggle to belong.

At the age of 11, Kris’s world took another turn when she found herself in a group home for those with behavioral challenges. Here, she encountered the harsh realities of drugs, alcohol, suicidal thoughts, physical restraints, and mental illness. She went back to two other foster homes until she was 15 years old. Yet, through it all, Kris emerged as a survivor, bravely confronting the demons that sought to consume her.

After five foster homes and two group homes, she tried to reconnect with her mom who lived at a supportive housing residence but unfortunately, she was unable to live with her. As the months passed, Kris battled addiction, homelessness, and the weight of emotional scars.

Her journey led her to Cornerstone’s shelter at 16 years old – it offered her a chance at healing and the encouragement she needed to rebuild her life.

She got a job, completed her Grade 12, and went on to get her college diploma in Legal Office Administration. Kris got involved with various top law firms with a desire to make a positive impact on others who have faced similar struggles. As an advocate for change within the system, Kris speaks up against injustices, racism, and the neglect that she witnessed in the foster care system.

Life’s twists and turns led Kris through different jobs and experiences, from working in civil law firms to investigating fraud at a bank. However, life took a wrong turn and she struggled with the loss of her job, wound up back into the cycle of homelessness, and serious health issues which led her back to Cornerstone’s supportive housing.

Kris has found comfort in the staff that care for her at Cornerstone. The dedicated team at Cornerstone provides Kris with the resources and support necessary for her to regain her independence. She enjoys the craft nights, playing bingo with others, chair exercises, the kitchen staff who prioritize her dietary needs, and the positive presence of volunteers who put a smile on her face.

Kris’s story invites us to challenge our stereotypes, empathize, and understand that each individual facing homelessness has a unique story, filled with both triumphs and tribulations. Kris would like to call on the community, and our neighbours to support initiatives and organizations like Cornerstone that provide not just safe shelter and housing, but also a pathway to renewed hope and stability.

*Kris’s name has been changed for anonymity.

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