For most of Scott’s life he was blissfully unaware of homelessness in his community.
Why worry about those things when you’re steadily employed by businesses like the Vancouver Canucks Hockey Club and B.C. Lottery Corporation? Why concern yourself with things like sleeping in your van and shelters when you can afford to keep several vehicles on the road?
“I never even knew this place existed,” says Scott, who now lists the North Shore Housing Centre as his address. “I saw the guys outside with their shopping carts and bikes, but I had no idea this place was a shelter.”
Growing up in West Vancouver, one of the richest municipalities in Canada, Scott never considered he’d find himself in the same situation as the men and women he occasionally drove past.
“Sometimes I can’t believe that this is my place now. I worked my entire life,” he says.
In Scott’s case, it was the loss of housing and tragedy – the kind that rips out part of your soul and leaves a void – that resulted in homelessness.
Eleven years ago he lost his child Jeremy, who was struck down by a car. Then, six years later, his nephew Quinn was killed on his Grade 12 grad night, also struck by a vehicle.
Quinn, a star basketball player on the verge of accepting an athletic scholarship to a big American university, was exiting a limousine when a bus mowed him down.
“We were just starting to get our lives together after Jeremy died. Then Quinn was killed,” says Scott.
Two tragic deaths of loved ones over the course of six years would knock most people to the ground. But not Scott. He even managed to stay on his feet after several serious car accidents that left his injured back and ankle as unsteady as a house of cards.
What finally pushed Scott over was the loss of job. Less than three years after Quinn died, his boss informed him on Christmas Eve – through an email – that he was being fired.
“I never found out why I was let go. He just said, ‘You’re gone,’” says Scott.
With no money coming in it didn't take long for him to lose his apartment. Next he had all but one of his vehicles repossessed. That left Scott with a single option – pile everything into his van and sleep in it until his luck turned around.
He might still be there if Lookout’s North Shore outreach worker Lisa F. had not come across him and found a spot for him in the North Shore shelter.
Once settled, Lisa suggested he put the past behind him and start all over. That advice included getting rid of unneeded possessions stuffed into his van.
He slowly emptied the vehicle of his clothing and tools, but couldn’t part ways with Jeremy’s toys and other belongings. Each toy represented a memory that Scott couldn’t carve out of his brain.
Realizing this, Lisa made a suggestion: donate Jeremy’s belongs to a shelter for women and children.
“Knowing that there’s other little boys playing with his stuff makes me feel better," says Scott, who kept a few toys as momentos.
But moving on in life takes time, especially when you require back and ankle surgeries before you fully function.
Despite the wait, Scott already has plans.
“I really respect what they do here,” says Scott of the North Shore Housing Centre. “It's something I would like to do. It would be great to give back.”