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LETTER: Outrage toward hopelessness is welcome reaction

'It’s very easy to say ‘adequate and affordable housing is the answer’ but it’s bigger than that,' suggests letter writer who has also experienced homelessness
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MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is in response to a story titled 'Homeless, hopeless Orillia man to seek medically assisted death', published Jan. 23, and subsequent letter published Jan. 26.

I’m sure most who read Jay Lemay’s letter and (article about) Tyler Dunlop felt sad, outraged or another form of upset. That seems to be the general consensus. These issues are devastating and many are feeling that currently. While I will always feel heartbroken about how horrific mental health and the housing crisis is, right now, I actually feel more happiness than anything. 

I loved seeing the outrage in response to Tyler’s heartbreaking decision. I loved seeing the amount of interactions with that article. I loved seeing the raw emotion coming from so many community members because that means that the hope Tyler has lost is being passed onto others. That’s why you did it, isn’t it Tyler? I believe you, when you say you’ve lost hope for yourself. I don’t for a second believe you have lost hope in others though. If you had, you wouldn’t have shared your decision with us. Thank you for sharing, by the way. 

I would have chosen the same thing at one point. I had lost all of my hope and, like you, I was homeless and hopeless. No two stories are the same though. I don’t know the roads you’ve travelled, I only know mine.

I miss being on the streets sometimes. It’s not the streets I miss though, it’s the habits and connections with people that I miss. I can’t fully make sense of that or help anyone who has never been homeless before understand why I could possibly miss anything about being homeless but I do. There’s more I don’t miss though. I count my blessings each and every day.

It’s a very long and difficult transition back into the world of the ‘housed’ for a lot of us. Getting back on our feet doesn’t just happen because we suddenly have a roof over our heads. It has taken me over two years.

It’s very easy to say ‘adequate and affordable housing is the answer’ but it’s bigger than that. You’ve bridged that gap between housing and mental health, Tyler. Homelessness, mental health and addictions, sexual exploitation and street crime are all inextricably linked. Adequate and affordable housing is a stepping stone. Not a silver bullet. 

You’ve opened up eyes and made people listen, Tyler. If this is your goodbye, you will have left leaving hope behind, even if you believe you had none to even give anymore. You’ve done that. You’ve given hope. 

I mentioned happiness earlier. I feel happy because, after so long of feeling so alone and like only those who have similar lived experiences as me understood me, I feel like I’m not so alone in this City. Like, most are starting to see through that veil. Like, we’re no longer on different wave lengths. 

I won’t try to change your mind, Tyler, and I support your decision. I think you have lived a life where you had so little control. You’re taking your power back. You’re taking control of your life. I only want you to know that you’re giving power to others by doing it. You’re giving control to others, as well. Everyone who has read your words now has the power to do something about it. Everyone who has read your words now, also has the control to make a difference. 

Your elected officials have an easier time ignoring a couple complaints. They are often seen as just a few and not a reflection of the whole. They have a more difficult time ignoring a higher volume of complaints. Your conservative representatives, MPP Dunlop and MP Adam Chambers, very likely would enjoy an opportunity to criticize their Liberal colleagues, even if I don’t agree that this issue has a party colour or with the idea that political tactics are ever appropriate. I do believe that political figures are more inclined to act when it’s against or for a certain colour though so, for now, make this issue ‘blue’ and demand a difference to be made. Make it political and make it work to your advantage. Most of you feel politics has robbed you of many things and, I’m certain you’re justified to feel that way. So, do something about it. Send my love Jill and Adam for me. 

All my love to you too, Tyler. 

Krystal Brooks