June 17, 2019

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Opinion

Can Homeless Hero save self?

Faron Hall tries to sober up again; fate in his hands

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/10/2009 (3527 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I went looking for Faron Hall last week because someone close to the city's homeless community had emailed an alert.

Faron, according to the report, was on the verge of being homeless again.

There was talk on the street that the longtime street person -- the Homeless Hero who made national headlines by rescuing a young man from the Red River last spring -- was in danger of being evicted from the Manitoba Housing apartment to which he'd been given a key because of his heroics.

Management was upset because Faron had allowed too many homeless people to "flop" at his government-subsidized home.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/10/2009 (3527 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I went looking for Faron Hall last week because someone close to the city's homeless community had emailed an alert.

Faron, according to the report, was on the verge of being homeless again.

There was talk on the street that the longtime street person — the Homeless Hero who made national headlines by rescuing a young man from the Red River last spring — was in danger of being evicted from the Manitoba Housing apartment to which he'd been given a key because of his heroics.

Management was upset because Faron had allowed too many homeless people to "flop" at his government-subsidized home.

"There is a lot of concern for him," the email added.

As it turned out, he hadn't received an eviction notice, at least not yet.

But there was other news.

Good news this time.

"ö "ö "ö

By the time we met at Taco Time — his choice of lunch spot — Faron had already shared the news.

Faron said starting Wednesday he was scheduled to enter a five-week-long detox program at the aboriginal-operated Pritchard House.

"I'm not hiding behind a bottle of booze no more," Faron said, as he dug into a burrito. "I should have done that a long time ago."

In fact, last spring — not long after his courage was rewarded with a medal from Mayor Sam Katz — Faron said he applied for a place at Pritchard House.

The mayor and a couple of native organizations had promised employment.

"I told them I got to get sober."

But last spring, when he applied at Pritchard House, there was an administrative glitch. That's my term for it.

Faron's version of what went wrong — why he didn't get into the program back then — is more accusatory and angry.

"They let me down big-time," Faron says. "I went right to the Liquor Mart. I've been drinking straight ever since."

Then it happened again.

On a hot day in early September, he was sitting by the Red River drinking with three friends when one of them, a young woman named Tara Beardy, ended up in the water. Chris Harper, a young man who was drinking with them, jumped in to save her.

Faron ended up pulling Tara from the river, but he couldn't save Chris.

Faron was devastated.

But then, just over a week later, Chris's girlfriend, Geraldine — who had been drinking with them that day and watched the drowning — was caught shoplifting food from a small grocery store near Health Sciences Centre.

In the process the shopkeeper allegedly struck her on the head with a stick. And she died later from blunt-force trauma.

Back in his 11th-floor apartment with a view of the river, Faron re-read a prophetic letter from Geraldine that he had taped to his fridge.

It was dated Sept. 4, the day Chris drowned.

 

"Dear Faron Hall its me

your friend Geraldine Beardy

you know your always my Best friend till thee-end

I'll always be your friend

even (though) I'am the only one that's going to die first

but I'll watch you from up

there when I'am GONE

you have a big heart... "

 

This time booze wasn't going to medicate the depth of his depression.

Finally, two weeks ago he walked into the legislature and went straight to the office of aboriginal cabinet minister Eric Robinson.

"I said, 'I need help,' " he told two of Robinson's assistants. "I can't cope no more because I was walking around and I just started weeping right away. For no reason."

Faron ended up at the Main Street Project, where someone suggested there might well be a reason.

His symptoms suggested he could be suffering from post-traumatic stress.

It was Robinson's aides who took Faron to Pritchard House for help.

Faron has gone through detox programs "three or four" times before, though. I ask him why he thinks this time will be different.

"Because of the episodes that happened in my life this past year. This tumultuous year."

I tell Faron that what will make the difference this time is whether he has something to grab onto when he gets out. Something besides a bottle.

It's the same with every alcoholic.

In the end, the only person who can save Faron Hall is Faron Hall.

That irony, I'm sure, isn't lost on the Homeless Hero.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

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