Family and friends joined Alvin Azak to celebrate his 75th birthday, December 29, 2022 by handing out hot soup and buns to those less fortunate.
Amid strong winds and cold weather at George Little Park in Terrace, Azak says the community needs to support those living on the street and suffering during a difficult time of year.
“Everyone else is warm during the holidays with family and friends. They are sadly missing out on that.
“We as a Nisga’a Nation and the general public here in Terrace need to get together and try to alleviate some of the trauma and the stress that these people are going through.”
Azak’s birthday came not long after 54-year-old Richard Nelson was found dead in his tent at the old Co-op property during – 20 weather Dec. 22.
“Everybody has heard about the extremely sad event of one of our brothers passing away in the cold weather in the tent city there,” said Azak.
“We need to bring attention to that and not just brush it aside as that person’s problem and not ours. We are all suffering from the same stress as that person, it’s just that we deal with it in different ways.”
Helping others through hard times is important for Azak, who manages community social services for the Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw in the Nass Valley.
And he’s upset that Terrace’s homeless community have been “given some really harsh and inaccurate labels”.
“We’ve been trying to raise the issue of mental health and wellness and some of the challenges that they go through. They are totally misunderstood.”
Over the past two years investigations into unmarked graves at the Kamloops residential school brought more awareness to what First Nations in Canada have suffered under colonialism and Azak sees more work yet to be done.
“All the stress that we are going through as First Nations people needs to be addressed, first of all by us as First Nations and then to keep on educating the general public.”
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