FACING SURREY’S HOMELESS: ‘Sometimes I would even go to the airport and just pretend I was going somewhere and sleep.’

As a kid in Surrey, Devinder was always active. Sports were an escape for the now 44-year-old, who felt most at home on the soccer pitch.

As a teenager, Devinder, like many of his friends, dabbled with alcohol and recreational drugs.

“The drugs were there,” recalls Devinder, “but they weren’t unmanageable.”

Then he tried crack cocaine.

He began to spend days binging on the drug, often staying away from home for weeks at a time.

In 2000 Devinder came home, after being high for days, to find his mother had passed away from leukemia.

As she lay dying in the living room of her Newton home days earlier, she had called out for Devineder, her middle son, but he wasn’t there. It’s a shame he carries to this day.

“At that time my dad told me to beat it,” he says. “I held resentment against my dad for many years, but now I realize he was just trying to keep his house safe.”

Devinder left home with only a photograph of his mother and spent the next 13 years living on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

During that time he was convicted more than 100 times for theft – all attempts to feed his growing drug habit.

When he was not in jail, he would spend most of his time searching for shelter.

“I would ride the bus down Broadway up to UBC or to the SkyTrain. Sometimes I would even go to the airport and just pretend I was going somewhere and sleep on one of the chairs.”

In 2014 Devinder was released from jail and was given a chance at rehab through drug court. A recovery house in Newton has been his home ever since.

He has reconciled with his family and although he has had minor relapses, he has hope.

“I know people love me,” Devinder says.

NO FIXED ADDRESS: Read the other stories in this Leader special report:

• The homeless: It might not be who you think

• ‘I honestly felt suicide was my only option.’

• ‘I literally have nowhere to go.’

• ‘We’re not drug freaks. We would just love a place to stay.’

• Pushed into despair – and onto the streets

• ‘Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done.’

• ‘Everything is a struggle when you don’t have an address.’

• The cost of caring: $7 billion in government services

• ‘ I lost my brother, my mother and my father.’

• ‘Sometimes I would even go to the airport and just pretend I was going somewhere and sleep.’

• Working the NightShift in Surrey

• The solution? In short, more housing

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey hair salon joins sustainability initiative

Hair can be used to create boom to clean up oil spills: Green Circle Salons

White Rock breaks temperature record

B.C. city was the hottest in all of Canada

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

VIDEO: Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

Most Read