While volunteers were inside the longhouse above the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds Tuesday, March 10, baking bannock for the day’s Homeless Count in the city, a 42-year-old man was outside digging through a dumpster for bottles near the back of the building.
As Yurri Seterengen reached for a few empties, he told the Tribune he has been staying at the Cariboo Friendship Society shelter because he is homeless.
Several years ago he suffered a brain injury caused by a deformed artery. He was found unconscious one day when it was -20C in Northern Alberta where he had been working as a truck driver hauling butane.
During his medical recovery, he became addicted to opioid prescribed to him for nerve damage. He tried methadone to get off opioids, but said it didn’t agree with him.
“In all honestly I have a bit of a drug habit. I have to have a bit of heroin each day. If I don’t have 20 bucks every day to buy a couple of hits the withdrawal is terrible,” he said.
He has also stayed at a shelter in Quesnel for six months, he added.
“It’s tough, it sucks,” he said of his situation. “My EI has run out and I have nothing right now. I’m hoping to get some help to go to school as a mature adult and do some upgrading.”
As he finished going through the dumpster, Seterengen held up his gloved hands and said he has a lot of nerve damage in his hands and the cold weather gives him “instant pain.”
He goes around picking up cans every day for money and cannot bring himself to panhandle because he is too embarrassed to ask, he said.
Seterengen didn’t mind having his photograph taken for the newspaper, though.
“I don’t really care what people think of me, I have nothing to lose at this point,” he added. “Life is what it is. I’d like to get to Vancouver and into a program that would help me with my sickness, help me get employment and a place to live.”