Catherine | Invisible People

Catherine


I may have never known Catherine was homeless unless there was a hat on the sidewalk “asking” for donations. Funny thing in Canada, homeless people in urban areas don’t actually ask for money like they […]

Catherine

I may have never known Catherine was homeless unless there was a hat on the sidewalk “asking” for donations. Funny thing in Canada, homeless people in urban areas don’t actually ask for money like they do in the States. That would be considered “aggressive panhandling”, and often homeless people are ticketed or arrested.

I met Catherine in Ottawa, Canada, while riding around with the Ottawa Salvation Army’s outreach team. Catherine has a story she wrote that she wanted to read. She titled it “Homelessness and Panhandlers: Two Sides to Every Story”! It’s a powerful story that I hope you take a few minutes to watch as Catherine shares.

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. I never heard that quote before, until I listened to Catherine’s story. Catherine has been homeless since April, couch surfing wherever she can. When I asked her about her future, she said she tries not to look there. That’s what poverty does. It takes away hopes and dreams.

Special thanks to Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre

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  • Nmnikkimeek

    Interesting woman who is articulate and intelligent. Even with those gifts which many humans aren’t given Catherine sounds angry and shirking any part of her predicament. I heard she has to decide to get dry which I implore her to do. Her children have borne the brunt of her addiction eventhough they didn’t deserve it and she never ingtended to harm them.  Get clean Catherine…you have alot left to do in this life and are so intelligent and articulate…it isn’t easy, it is HARD but gosh you have alot left to give to the world girl!…nikiki

  • Catherine

    I wonder what was the cause and result… did she loose her family, job, etc. due to her alcoholism or, did she loose it all and then turn to drink for solace?  Neither is OK (I’m among the few who think alcohol should not be legal), but it does make one think.  She sounds intelligent.  Hope she kicks the booze and I hope she makes it.  She’s got a rough road, homelessness itself can ruin ones health and alcohol can cause permanent brain damage.

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    I hope she makes it.  She’s got a rough road, homelessness itself can
    ruin ones health and alcohol can cause permanent brain damage. 

  • Jason

    Okay I don’t want you to take this the wrong way at all, or to think I don’t see and appreciate the value in what you’re doing, it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s because I see the importance, and because I place you in such high regard for taking the time to run a project like this with such commitment that I felt the need to throw this out there. I’ve just noticed a trend in your video’s of which is kind of starting to.. hmm, how do I word this appropriately… raise my concern for the participants. (perhaps that will have to do.) 
    You’re interviewing skills and responses, empathy and comforting could perhaps be increased, as they can amongst all professionals in one form or another. I often feel as if the participants place so much out there emotionally, and that you miss the opportunity to truly comfort and empower them with your responses. With this interview in specific, Catherine reading her story which she has written was almost her showing a need to speak about it, to add commentary to it, but it appears as if you rushed past that opportunity to move onto her current situation. When dealing with people, and when gathering a story, it’s important to pick up on the implicit invitations given by the participant, work at their pace, not ours. It’s amazing what can come of it. To me, this seems a rudimentary skill when working with people, although it is also one of the most challenging to master. Maybe you edit these videos down, and that’s why I’m missing this but I would like to continue watching and be able to feel as if the interview went fluidly at the pace of the participant. I’d also love it to show that you were simply noticing and using the invitations of the participant, instead of using the participant to satisfy your own agenda. To tell a persons entire story in a 5 minute video is impossible, but we can gather a deeper understanding of the person as an individual by using the guidance of which THEY offer throughout the conversation. 
    I hope this doesn’t come off as rude, or as a harsh criticism, it’s meant solely to be constructive and to help you as an interviewer to grow. A little self reflection in cooperation with external criticisms can go a long way, we all need it. 

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    I hope this doesn’t come off as rude, or as a harsh criticism, it’s
    meant solely to be constructive and to help you as an interviewer to
    grow. A little self reflection in cooperation with external criticisms
    can go a long way, we all need it. 

  • Catherine

    You should not speak of things you know nothing about.  Two of my children are in University, one with top honors and two winning student of the year awards.  If i did anything right with my life it was the way I raised my kids.  None of them smoke or drink and are healthy and happy. 
      How would you know it isn’t easy, have you ever been there?
    Catherine from the garage.
    I am not angry as I do not hold things like that close to my heart.  I could not see today if that were the case.

  • Catherine

    Jason, you were right by saying that i had a need to speak about it.  Since 1998 I had been researching homelessness, poverty and addiction and would not be heard.  Even so far to packing 15 pounds of briefs and ideas to quickly begin the process of ending homelessness to an OTTAWA U prof by appointment who writes for the gov. about homelessness only to be told that perhaps i should start my endeavors by volunteering at the Shepherds of Hope.  The audacity, I felt myself again deflated. I HAD volunteered at the Shep’s for a year and some and when i left there, they were glad to be rid of me because i spoke of change.
    Being heard in Mark’s interview however the shortness of time helped me in my decision to quit drinking three days after.  Now 14 days later I’m still sober and have picked up writing again about the fore mentioned travesties.
    Thank you for your caring,
    Catherine