Joan finds comfort at WindChimes

As a first nations woman living with paranoid schizophrenia, Joan has had difficulty finding support throughout much of her life. At a young age her father died, and after that her mother spent periods of time committed to Riverview. Joan suffered abuse from some of her other caregivers, and describes her search for help as being part of what alienated her from other first nations people. “I wanted to talk about abuse, but the natives were very strong about it, and I was very weak… I tried to slash my hand, tried to knife myself to death… they kicked me off the reserve because I was seeking help for abuse, and I couldn’t find it among the natives, so I went to the white people.”

Over the years she endured more hardship. Abusive relationships, transition houses, 3 children she had to give over to her sister’s care, and many moves to different parts of BC, until she ended up in Vancouver. Here too, she ran into trouble. “I was in trouble with the law, police would harass me about being crazy & poorly behaved in public. The police wanted me in Riverview. Forty nine years I’ve been on the coast, and everyone wants me in Riverview.”

For years Joan bounced from hotel rooms to mental health housing and back again, but was never able to maintain a home for more than about 6 months. Sometimes ending up on the streets, Joan eventually came to stay at Triage shelter, and through her connection with Triage got an apartment at WindChimes in 1996. For eight years now, she has had stable housing and consistent support. She safely administers her own medication, and is currently looking for ways to re-enter the workforce. “I got an idea of what it’s like to be living like everyone else, without having a hundred nervous breakdowns. I can clean my apartment, eat with people, and make friends with people outside the institution without being threatened to live in Riverview.”