'It will get worse if they have nowhere to go': Former client wants Lighthouse to stay in downtown Saskatoon
SASKATOON -- Since he was a baby, Jonathon Mercredi grew up in the care of social services.
At 13, he moved to Saskatoon in the Lakeridge neighborhood. He said he had a good life but when he turned 18, he lost much of his support system.
“I moved out on my own, I didn’t really know the avenues like low income housing, I had nowhere to go. Family didn’t talk to me, I kept losing job after job and relationships weren’t good. That’s when my addiction to alcohol and other drugs started,” he said.
Mercredi ended up at the Salvation Army and continued to live on the streets for months in Saskatoon.
Not knowing where to go for support, he said the Lighthouse Supporting Living was the only place that took him in.
“Going through my addictions was pretty tough. The Lighthouse made it easier. They had very compassionate care workers and they were all very helpful.
Mercredi stayed at the Lighthouse for many years and it helped him see a life beyond addictions.
“They provided a steady meal, a roof over my head. They got me into different support groups. All of this helped me get off drugs.”
Mercredi said he was upset last week when he heard about local business developer Ken Achs writing to Saskatoon City Council to “save our downtown,” referencing the City’s bus mall and Lighthouse as “not safe” areas.
“This subject has come up many times each year and it gets worse. It bugs me to my core,” Mercredi said. “The Lighthouse helped me and people here need help. These are people who have come from the system, from residential school, being in abusive families and most of them end up at the Lighthouse.”
Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill said last week the Lighthouse needs to be moved or it will be ”at the detriment of the entire downtown.”
Mercredi said the Lighthouse’s central location is a strength.
“Everything you need for help is a walk or a bus away. If they close it down, I think there will be more people sleeping in doorways and alleyways. It will get worse if they have nowhere to go.”
Today, Mercredi is almost three years sober and he wants to now give back to his community and become an addictions counsellor or youth care worker.
“I want to be able to help people who were in my situation. Trying to break the cycle of addiction where it starts.”