Why Calvin Pete Is A Hero

By Mike Archer. Last week Calvin Pete, the Shaman of the Abbotsford Drug War Survivors (DWS) TeePee on Gladys Avenue, saved a man’s life by administering two doses from his Narcan rescue kit when man overdosed and became unresponsive.

Photo by Bas Stevens

For that, he is being hailed as a hero among drug addicts, members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS) and among homeless men and women now dispersed all over Abbotsford since being evacuated from the Happy Tree opposite the Salvation Army on the day Calvin saved a life.

Calvin is a hero for much more than the fact that he had the brains, the knowledge, the presence of mind and the courage to quickly use his healing powers and the Narcan kit to save a life. Many would have been paralyzed by fear and might have missed the opportunity.

Calvin knew what he had to do and did it. The way Calvin always does things.

Calvin is a hero because, in his own inimitable way he has lead Abbotsford’s most marginalized people, through nine months of hell and has kept them safe and together through everything the City of Abbotsford and uts police force have thrown at them.

One of the fears many who work with Abbotsford’s street people have, now that they have been effectively evacuated out of the railway corridor along Gladys Avenue and are being kept away by No Trespassing signs, barbed wire and piles of gravel, is that, living either alone in the woods or alone in the alleyways, the security provided by Calvin and the TeePee is no longer accessible.

For the TeePee has become more than a source of inspiration under Calvin’s leadership. His quiet, almost Buddhist, serenity has helped calm many an altercation, ended arguments, provided guidance and leadership and exerted an essential control over what are easily the most unruly bunch of people within 20 miles.

If you think herding cats is challenging try leading a bunch of drug addicted misfits.

There is only one protest camp in the history of BC which has lasted longer than the Abbotsford DWS TeePee’s ‘MCC Dignity Village Camp’ and that is the Shantytown Protest in Vancouver in 1971, which lasted almost a year.

From the day the DWS protest began on October 20, 2013 in Jubilee Park, through the forced eviction and the move over to Gladys Avenue, Calvin has been the quiet heart beating at the center of the TeePee. Without Calvin, all the daily chores wouldn’t get done; the garbage wouldn’t be cleaned up, people wouldn’t have a chance to get along … in short, life at the TeePee, including all of the tents and lean-tos around it, would have disintegrated long ago.

The reason the homeless men and women, who continue to be harassed, shuffled about, and treated like vermin, can still manage to hold their heads high and continue fighting a City which seems intent, more than ever, of demeaning, demoralizing behaviour and cleansing itself of them, is because of the love they share for one another and the deep, spiritual leadership of a real warrior – Calvin Pete.

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