Leslie Jeeves

Leslie Jeeves

I had an accident a few years ago – In 2007, I fell down two flights of stairs and crushed 5 vertebrae and broke 9 ribs. All of a sudden I found myself not being able to work and/or support myself financially. I ended up on the streets with Social Assistance at $235 a month in Vancouver.

So needless to say I was finding myself scrambling to learn how to live on the streets – adapting to street life. I had to find food line ups, shelters for men, any shelter for that matter. I learned how to get what I needed. I also learned how to manipulate a system in order to survive. I started understanding why people did what they did. I’m fortunate – I don’t do drugs or drink. That made it easier for me. I could understand how to work my way through these things. God knows I wish I could help others, but I could only look after me.

My ribs started to heal a bit and then I realized, a year later, that I had a broken neck also.

I came to the Yukon because I needed to be in a smaller community and I needed access to education and retraining. Big cities have lineups that are thousands of people strong. So, at that point my life changed. I knew I needed to re-educate myself and retrain.

Since 2009 and 2010 I have done nothing but re-educated myself. I try to give back to the community as much as they gave me when I was on the streets – if not more.

If I had one message from my story it is to never judge a book by its cover. There are educated people on the streets who didn’t realized they were one pay cheque away from being homeless. Hence the struggle begins. And it really is a struggle. I can’t imagine how I would have survived if I didn’t know my way around government offices, politicians, churches etc.

I wake up the same person every day. When people saw me on the streets they didn’t know anything about me.  All they knew was they saw the same smile – rain or shine.  But stuff happens.

I had to make a move to make a change in my life. If that change is moving to a different town, then you have to do it. Bottom line is that you have to want to help yourself.

April 2011 Update
Further to my story. In the last nine months I got a job cooking in a government camp. It’s now paying me $70,000 a year. The moral of this story is that hard work and goals do help and they do work. With a little bit of blessing from God, I have put my best foot forward and things are going very well. I’d just like to thank the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition and all those who have helped encourage me and supported my endeavours. Without the support system that was provided for me, I’m sure my goals wouldn’t have been achieved as soon as they were.