Jason standing outside on UGM's patio on a sunny day

Jason's Story

There was a time in Jason’s life when he didn’t receive much encouragement. Raised in a tumultuous home, Jason experienced abuse from a young age. “It was quite chaotic,” he recalls. “It was an acceptable environment for drinking and doing drugs. What was not accepted was to go get help.”

The child of a residential school survivor, Jason turned to alcohol and theft to help cope with intergenerational trauma. After one stint in prison, he returned home to find his family had disappeared. “My mom got tired of my behaviour and moved up north. I got out of jail and found that the whole house was abandoned. I was devastated.”

On his own, Jason couchsurfed and slept on the street. He eventually followed his family up north, where he had his first son and trial tested a period of sobriety. After a year-long pledge, Jason relapsed. “That was a tough year for me. I was caught in a cycle of pain and suffering.”

For a second time, Jason found himself surrounded by family members who were weary of his behaviour. “They didn’t kick me out. But they let me know they didn’t really like me being around. So one day, I just left.” He made his way to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where his alcohol and drug dependencies determined his life.

Jason standing outside on UGM's patio on a sunny day

His first encounter with Union Gospel Mission came through an unexpected avenue: his kids. In the early 2010s, he followed his ex-girlfriend to one of UGM’s family holiday meals. Her children were part of the Eastsiders Homework Club, and one of Jason’s sons joined too. Jason didn’t know anything at the time about the Men’s Recovery Program, but he knew he needed a change. “I was at that point where it's like, I'm just gonna drink myself to death or I'm gonna go get help. One or the other.”

Jason enrolled in recovery in 2018, but it was a second attempt in 2021 where he really saw a difference. “UGM provided the tools, and I decided to use them. People were there to help—my counsellors poured a lot of their resources into me. They were just phenomenal.” Now in aftercare, Jason lives in UGM supportive housing, and completed his Building Service Worker certification thanks to a tuition grant. He was hired for six months as a Maintenance Intern at UGM, and is working trial shifts for a new job off site.

His journey of transformation has led Jason to some unexpected reconciliation.

“When I was in my addiction, I didn't have anything. Coming back to recovery and sticking to it, I'm slowly starting to see the benefits of having my family look me in the eye. My oldest son actually wants to connect with me now: I talked to him a couple weeks ago, and he called me ‘Dad’ instead of ‘Jason.’ It still kind of floors me that people want me around.”

He’s also come to a deeper understanding of his mother. “My mom went to Catholic boarding school, and it wasn’t very good. Once I heard her story, I started to understand what she was working with when she had me. And I think that's where the true reconciliation between me and her began. I began to forgive her. We have an outstanding relationship now.”

Jason has walked a long road, and he’s sharing his hard-earned learnings with others in recovery. “UGM helped me save my life. It's really rewarding living nearby, because I can come in and pass on what they gave me to somebody who’s still suffering. I can carry the message of hope.”

Every day, men like Jason make the choice to enter recovery and change their lives. Will you give others that same opportunity to overcome addiction this winter?