All That I Am, All That I Have

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Homelessness does not have a distinct outward appearance, it doesn’t always present itself as obvious. This scene presented itself as a curious story, I watched for several minutes as this woman would wheel one cart half a block down, then return to wheel the other and repeat this many times along Queen St.

I was astonished to watch countless people pass her, fully aware that she was struggling to get to her destination, I get that people are busy, nonetheless surprised. It worked in my favour, I couldn’t bear to watch her keep going without at least offering to help. Part curiosity, part opportunity combined with my silly heart paid off as I got to listen to an amazing story and meet a wonderful and beautiful woman. She should not be where she is right now. She looks like she is ready to travel the world, doesn’t deserve to be kicked out of shopping malls where she is a paying customer.

Olga, is originally from Winnipeg. Has had a career and lifestyle based around film and TV, even produced her own weekly entertainment radio show back home in Winnipeg, she’s covered the stories of the red carpet, has photos of illustrious celebrities, we shared an ironic conversation about the now late Roger Ebert whom we lost just this past week. I can assure you, Mr. Ebert would have offered two thumbs down to the Government of Canada for this story.

When we think of disabilities, we always reach for the notable, the physical, the evident, what about the silent ones? Such as Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis and COPD. There are people who suffer greatly from environmental illness and sensitivities, scents, harsh chemicals such as paint, ink, perfumes and other airborne particles, once exposed can become a painful ordeal within minutes. Olga, is embattled with not being able to seek normal shelter due to cleaning products used or other people that she would share with, she has opportunities for safe shelter, but due to government regulation on what is deemed proper shelter, Olga will not qualify for something that will improve her life. Honestly, it’s a simple solution, inventive and creative and should be considered a possible alternative. Canadian campgrounds do not qualify under proper shelter guidelines. Because she suffers with all of the above, she is living a silent hell. In fact, our three block walk carried us to her destination, she was to get more blood tests completed, this is where our conversation ended, twenty minutes after meeting on the street.

You’ll be hearing more about her, she is a fascinating person, I am looking forward to getting to know more. She is high tech, armed with her iPad, I was fortunate to receive an email from her, below, is a photo of her with the late Roger Ebert at Cannes Film Festival 2005. It’s a smaller world than we think.

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Image Provided as Courtesy of Olga

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