Editor’s Note: The Journal continues Stories from the Street II, a six-part series focusing on Sarnia’s homeless crisis, from journalist Cathy Dobson and photographer Glenn Ogilvie. Please join us each day this week to read about the unique circumstances of the men and women living rough in Sarnia.
“I’m not suicidal but I don’t want to be here anymore. I just want to get to the next life because I’m angry with God.” Eddy Nahmabin, age 52.
Eddy Nahmabin says there should be more to life.
He’s been incarcerated on and off for 25 of his 52 years for assaults and car thefts. Some of that was hard time. Some he served in reformatories.
He says he doesn’t function well outside of an institution because everything is provided there.
Eddy’s now been living on the streets off and on in Sarnia for three years, regularly drinking and taking drugs.
He keeps his head down while we talk. His eyes are covered by the lid of his ball cap. He looks despondent but he appears to want to talk, maybe to be better understood or maybe just to spend a few minutes out of the pouring rain.
John Edward Nahmabin grew up at Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia. He has memories from his early years of going to Devine Street School and says he had a difficult relationship with his late father.
“I didn’t listen at home so they put me in foster care when I was 11,” he said. That was a period of relative calm. Living with a foster family in Wingham was possibly the best time of his life, said Eddy.
“They were good people and I stayed with them a couple of years. Then I started drinking and ended up in jail for assault.
“After that I got deeper and deeper into crime. Whenever I get a place to live, I get kicked out.”
He’s managed to stay out of jail for three years now and rented a room on Davis Street for a time until about four months ago.
“I had enough one day,” is all he says when asked why he doesn’t live there anymore.
“I prefer to sleep outside. Sometimes I’ll stay with a friend. I’ve been kicked out of both shelters here due to drugs. I just don’t like setting myself up with stipulations.
“I’d rather do what I want on the street.”
Life is very, very hard though, both mentally and physically.
“I’ve lost hope. I just want off this f…….g planet. I’m not suicidal but I don’t want to be here anymore. I just want to get to the next life because I’m angry with God.”
I ask what would help him now.
“There was a lady who helped me before,” he answers. “She came up to me at the 7-11 and said, ‘You look homeless.’ She said to go into the store and get anything I wanted. Then she paid for it and gave me $50.
“That was a couple of months ago and she’s done it a few times since. She’s been known to do it for others too. No one knows who she is. She’s a middle-aged woman with a good heart. That’s all I know.”
There is good in the world, Eddy concedes. “Just not enough of it.”
Stories from the Street II continues Friday with Part 5.