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Eskasoni man receives new home after living in shack for seven years
ESKASONI FIRST NATION, N.S. -- After seven years of living in a rundown shack, a man is finally receiving much-needed relief thanks to the community of Eskasoni First Nation, N.S.
Having witnessed a man sleeping in a shack in the dead of winter, volunteers from Eskasoni spent months building a better shelter to give to him. For the team of builders, the new shelter isn't just a shed – it's a labour of love.
"He's been living out on the streets, out of his own choosing," says volunteer, Calvin Stevens, of a man named Noel who has been homeless in the community for years.
On a bitterly cold winter night, Stevens and a friend searched for Noel to give him winter clothing. Discovering him in a rundown shanty stationed behind a community health centre, they couldn't believe the conditions in which he was living.
"It was just a shack with holes in it – open to the environment, and it was uninsulated," says Stevens. "I was hard-pressed to last two minutes out there."
Stevens says Noel only had a small heater under blankets and a tarp to stay warm.
"I couldn't sleep that night," says Stevens. "I was comfy in my bed, all warm and cozy, and I just couldn't stop thinking about him being in that shed."
Stevens decided he wasn't going to allow the man to spend another winter living in such conditions – so he decided he would take matters into his own hands.
With help from his two young sons and a friend, he started building a new shed for Noel. The community also pitched in, with some of the shed's materials being donated by a nearby home improvement store in Sydney River. Meanwhile, the team of builders fundraised much of the cost themselves.
In late May, just a few months after discovering his poor living conditions, Stevens says Noel's new shelter is nearly ready. Feauturing a sturdier design, the shelter has been insulated, sealed and spray foamed to retain heat in the winter and stay cool in summer.
"We brought him over the other day to show him," says Stevens. "He was very excited, emotional. He gave me a hug, and he really appreciated what we had done for him – he said, 'nobody looks at me, nobody pays attention to me.'"
Stevens notes he'll feel much better next winter, knowing Noel is under a better roof.
"I'll probably try to get him a little Christmas tree," says Stevens. "I'll be happy that he'll at least have some comfort and festivity in his life."
Stevens says Noel is expected to move into his new home soon. Additionally, Stevens says he wants to thank the community of Eskasoni for the donations and support he received – noting it was remarkable.