When Jonah felt alone and needed support, Shepherds of Good Hope was there. Today, he has a home of his own and a place to belong this Christmas. See Jonah’s story below:
In my hometown, it’s dark for the entire month of December. The Christmas lights are out, the Northern Lights dance in the sky, and we travel by moonlight reflecting off the snow’s surface.
My name is Jonah. My Inuktitut name is Makpa. I’m from the far North, a place that used to be called Hall Beach, now called Sanirajak, Nunavut. It’s a small community with roughly 1000 people. One of those communities where everybody knows everybody.
I’m a long way from home this Christmas, but thanks to you, I have a new home to celebrate in.
Please consider donating today. With your support, Shepherds of Good Hope can provide more people like me with a place to call home, and up until December 23rd, a very generous anonymous donor will match your support!
I love my family, but it wasn’t always easy growing up. Two of my brothers have schizophrenia. They would hear voices and sometimes get very angry. I learned to escape into books and schoolwork, and I’ve always tried to have a positive outlook.
When I was eleven, I went south for the first time. My teacher sent me on a student exchange trip to Nova Scotia. My teacher told us Nova Scotia was a small province, but at that time, there were only about 500 people in my town. When we got to Halifax, I saw all these skyscrapers, traffic and pedestrians everywhere and thought, ‘what do you mean small?!’
After high school, my teacher asked if I wanted to go to college or university, but I had four job offers waiting for me in Hall Beach. I chose to work at the airline because I got to do a little bit of everything: customer service, ticketing, cargo handling, and dangerous goods paperwork. I have always enjoyed working and thinking on my feet.
I also had a girlfriend back home. I’d always had a crush on her growing up and hoped she would be my wife one day. We decided to start a family. The greatest day of my life was when I became a dad. Two years later, my second daughter arrived. They are the lights of my life, and I am so proud of them.
Unfortunately, my relationship with my daughters’ mother didn’t work out. I was heartbroken. My small community started to feel too small – everyone knew my business. Housing was overcrowded and many people struggled with trauma and addictions. The cost of living was so high, I couldn’t provide a good life for my daughters. I left my home and came down South to Ottawa to find a better life.
I came to Ottawa alone and quickly realized I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have anywhere to go. I felt ashamed, and I didn’t want to ask for help or be a burden. Some fellow Inuit in Ottawa told me that the Shepherds of Good Hope would help me, so I headed down there. The staff were so kind to me and didn’t judge me at all.
Thanks to you, Shepherds of Good Hope’s shelter and soup kitchen were there for me in my darkest hour. When I had run out of options and had nowhere else to turn, they welcomed me. And that little bit of help went a long way for me. Your gift to Shepherds of Good Hope today will help ensure they are there for others when they need it most.
I had been doing odd jobs here and there, redoing driveways, a few stints in construction, and working in a warehouse. I’ve always been a fast learner and can pick up just about anything. Shepherds of Good Hope had a program where they set me up with a job at the Good Day Workshop, doing carpentry, which I’d done a bit with my brother. I loved it there. The work was fun and the people were amazing.
A case manager at Shepherds helped me move into my own apartment. I would still come back to volunteer in the soup kitchen or help sort donations from generous individuals like you. I’ve always liked keeping busy and being around people, and I wanted to give back to the Shepherds after all they did for me.
However, I was lonely in my apartment. Growing up in such a close-knit community, It wasn’t what I was used to. I started to feel depressed. Sometimes I drank too much and ended up at the Shepherds again to recover. I was homesick, too. I missed my mom, my brothers and sisters, and most of all, my daughters. By now, I had a son in law and grandson, too, in Iqaluit.
I went back up north planning to stay for a few months and ended up staying for a year and a half, so I gave up my apartment in Ottawa. I got a job with a mining company doing janitorial and house cleaning work. But when COVID hit, I lost my job. Everything was so expensive, housing was still overcrowded, and there weren’t many services available to help me.
I faced an impossible choice: stay and be a burden to the people I love, or return to an uncertain future down South. I chose to come back to Ottawa.
When I got off the plane, once again I had nowhere to go. I felt so dejected. But once again, Shepherds of Good Hope was there for me.
This time, they were opening a new housing building on Montreal Road, the Richcraft Hope Residence, and they offered me an apartment! I’ll never forget when I first walked in. They let me look at a few units, and I picked mine because it has the best view of the trees. I love all nature, but my favourite tree is a big willow.
What I love most about this building though is the community. It reminds me of back home. There are always people around to talk to and activities to do. I don’t feel depressed. The staff are there to help me with anything I need. It feels like I have a safety net for any challenges I might face.
Your donation to Shepherds of Good Hope goes far beyond providing food, clothing and shelter. You’re giving permanent homes with health and social supports for people like me. Thanks to you, I am doing better than I have been in a long time. My wish this Christmas is for other people to get the same type of help that I have received, so they to can get back on their feet.
Here, at Richcraft Hope Residence, I’ve found that community, thanks to you and the Shepherds of Good Hope. You’ve helped me get off the streets and into a home of my own. I still miss my family, but the community here is like a family.
This Christmas, please consider giving someone else the same amazing gift you have given to me. A place to be accepted for who you are, a place to call home, and most importantly, a place to belong.
Thanks to you, I know where I will be on Christmas morning. I know I have a home and community of people who care, even though I am far from the people I love most. Now I am ready for whatever life holds next for me, with the support of Shepherds of Good Hope and generous people like you.
I wish you and your loved ones all the blessings of the holiday season. Please give today to give people who need it most a home to celebrate the holidays in.
ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒋᑦᓯ ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒡᕕᒻᒥ (Quviasugitsi Quviqsugvingmit) – Merry Christmas