Cynthia Traverse is a voice for the homeless

A small, bright, energetic lady, Cynthia spends much of her time assisting the most fragile members of our community.

She sits on the Lived Experience Committee and works tirelessly to assist street entrenched people in getting the medical, educational and financial resources they require to get back on their feet. After experiencing childhood trauma and homelessness herself, Cynthia knows just what it is like.

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"I am the youngest of six children, the two younger than me passed away,” she said.

“When I was three, my mother came home after my sister died. With her finger in my face, she said, ‘Why couldn't it have been you to die, not her?' I had known all the time I was an unwanted child. Things got worse after my brother passed. I left home at 16 never to look back."

Cynthia spent her teen years living wherever she could, working as a dishwasher, prep cook and then a camp cook. She spent summers riding and working at rodeos until she was 18, travelling and making money.

She eventually settled in Prince Rupert, where she raised her children and ran a successful cleaning company for three decades. A string of abusive relationships wore the family and Cynthia down. Her kids grew up and left home. Cynthia gave up the business. Then she had a serious accident.

"About seven years ago, I had a bad accident. I fell, hitting my head, my heels and my tail bone. The next day, I was in my motorhome when I saw my last abuser. I was in so much pain, but would not let him get his hands on me. I left where I was healing to run away from him. I spent the summer in my motorhome on the street in front of my son's house in Prince Rupert. No matter how much I bugged my son to let me rent the room upstairs, the answer was, ‘No.” I packed up and drove away — not to look back."

Cynthia headed to Powell River to see a brain specialist about her head injury, but her motorhome broke down in Ashcroft. She stayed there, found a job and a place to park for a small fee. Things were going quite well until, three months later, her motorhome burned down.

An old friend talked her into moving to Kamloops. Cynthia lived in her car for the summer and worked at a few powwows. She enjoyed walking around the North Shore and one day happened upon My Place, where she finally found the supports she needed.

She also found her courage and her voice.

"One day, the man overseeing things walked in and suggested I be involved with the Lived Experience Committee.”

Soon after, Cynthia was chosen to go to the 2017 National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Winnipeg.

“I was so full of fear going across Canada in a plane as I had never been past Alberta,” she said. “I made great friends and joined every group there. I learned how to become a voice.  In that short time, I was inspired to reach out to help. No more running away from anyone who thinks they are better.”

In 2018, Cynthia became chair of LEC and attended that year’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Hamilton.

“We came back with just one thought for all LECs across Canada — to become our own not-for-profit organization. We are growing in leaps and bounds."

© Kamloops This Week



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