Walk down King St on Saturday night and you probably hear Terry busking with his blues harp or guitar. At fourteen, Terry picked up a guitar for the first time. Not long after, he also picked up a drug habit. Both have been with him since. While the drugs landed him in jail and on the street, the blues kept him strong enough to move forward. “When you’re wired to drugs, you do crazy things. But, I like music more than I like drugs,” Terry shares. When desperate to score another hit, Terry often resorted to stealing. The one thing he never stole - musical instruments.
His neighbour, Tony’s, bedroom walls are painted in dark blues, pastel purples, and strong oranges. They blend together to create a landscape that is both geometric and indistinct, raw in its shapes and textures. “Painting helps me sort out my mixed-up thoughts,” Tony says as he arranges one of his pieces on his bed to be photographed. He’s used rich turquoises to create a scene that resembles a waterfall and can also be viewed upside down. Incredibly, Tony only picked up a paint-brush ten years ago when he was in an art program at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health. Previously homeless, Tony has lived with Homes First for six years. While he now has a room to paint in (and on), it is still hard for him to get the materials. Tony finds almost everything in his home on the street, including his paints, brushes and canvasses. This coming cheque-day, he is planning on investing in a canvas to start a new painting.
Music and art are often the driving forces behind our residents’ resilience. While everyone has taken a different path to Homes First, each person who walks through our door has known struggle. Many are still fighting their demons and use art as a tool for combat.