When Calvin was just four years old, he witnessed his mother’s boyfriend chase her down the street and around a bend with a kitchen knife. His mother had known only abuse from men, and she made her sons pay for her pain.
Calvin was born in a picturesque seaside town in Newfoundland, an idyllic setting for a young boy to grow. But his childhood was marred by violence, mostly at the hands of his own mother. She had five children, but it was her three boys who she would terrorize. Raised with the fear of being attacked at any moment, Calvin learned to fight back with all he had in any situation.
Calvin’s family found themselves moving from town to rural coastal town. He would fight with any classmate or even any adult he came across who he thought was against him. When he was 13, he went to juvenile detention for six months. He also spent time with various foster families and in group homes. But he eventually moved back home where his mother continued to beat and taunt him until he fled at 18.
Calvin moved to St. John’s where he managed to find a job in the restaurant of a major hotel. He was a quick study in the kitchen and soon learned he had a passion for cooking. The chef began to take notice and made him his sous-chef. He won some awards for his creations, earning his Red Seal designation.
But Calvin had not faced the fallout of the trauma from his childhood. He struggled with serious mental health issues as a result of his constant abuse at home and found it difficult to keep a job.
An aunt in Ontario suggested Calvin come stay with her, but it was difficult for him to find work in her small town. He set off for downtown Toronto with the hope of finding a place and a job, but he was soon homeless and made his way to Covenant House. When he arrived here, Calvin found it clean and inviting. He began to appreciate the community atmosphere and connected with several of our staff. After living in our crisis shelter, he applied to our longer-term residence, Rights of Passage, where he lives now. There he is receiving overdue care and medication for his mental health challenges while our staff make sure he is safe and comfortable.
“Being here gives me the ability to work on my mental health, while I’m part of a community,” Calvin explains. “I’m living within society, but with staff to support me.”
Today, Calvin is a popular and affable young man who connects well with staff and youth. He has joined the Rights of Passage Youth Council and taken a leadership role with the aim of helping others in the program. Toronto is home for now, but the shores of the Burin Peninsula back home still call to him. He plans to finish high school in the fall, but his dream is to return to The Rock and someday open his own restaurant.