Cory Resilient was trapped in a cycle of homelessness for about six years before applying for residency at Anawim House, a sober recovery home in Victoria. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Cory Resilient was trapped in a cycle of homelessness for about six years before applying for residency at Anawim House, a sober recovery home in Victoria. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

WATCH: Documentary profiling Vancouver Islander aims to connect homeless with broader society

Founder of The Existence Project hopes film evokes empathy, understanding in viewers

A Victoria-based organization, aiming to connect the homeless community to broader society through the power of storytelling, has created a mini-documentary profiling a resident of Beacon Hill Park.

Marko Curuvija, founder of The Existence Project, acknowledges the divisiveness of homelessness in Victoria, but hopes the 20-minute documentary can invoke a sense of empathy for viewers.

The documentary profiles Shae Smith, who runs a Twitter account called Humans of Beacon Hill Park and produces a podcast discussing homelessness in Victoria.

Curuvija said he also hopes the documentary can help viewers see that providing housing for all is a solution that benefits society.

READ ALSO: ‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

“[Shae] would accept housing if it became available, and in addition, I think his insights are often excluded from policy-making decisions and housing solutions,” said Curuvija. “If people can take away three things it would be that this voice needs to be centered more in the solutions that we’re trying to create.”

Marko Curuvija, founder of The Existence Project, hopes the short film will envoke a sense of emapthy within viewers. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

The Existence Project was founded about five years ago after Curuvija went through some “major life changes.”

His first venture, an electric bike company, had come to an end and he moved back to the Island. One day he ended up striking up a conversation with a 70-year-old man who was sleeping on a bench near Curuvija’s home. It was through this conversation that Curuvija was inspired to help connect others to those experiencing homelessness.

He set out with a recorder and began interviewing people on the streets of Victoria, until he reached a “critical juncture.”

Curuvija noticed in the editing process, he was focused on drawing people in by highlighting trauma, victimization and hardship instead of the “more nuanced existence they might have in life.”

“[I’m] very fortunate to have advisors with people who have experienced it and also work in the community and they were very adamant that your role isn’t to tell someone’s story for them, but to create a platform and create a voice for that,” he said, adding that he never published any of the early work.

Now, The Existence Project runs day-long workshops involving advocates, allies and those with lived experience who are able to tell their story with the intention of connecting with attendees.

Cory Resilient, whose real last name is being withheld for his protection, is one of the Project’s speakers with lived experience. Resilient was trapped in a cycle of homelessness for five or six years after moving to the Island from Ontario when he was 22.

Cory Resilient was trapped in a cycle of homelessness for about six years before applying for residency at Anawim House, a sober recovery home in Victoria. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

“For me, homelessness didn’t have anything to do with addiction or alcoholism,” the now 28-year-old said. “I’ve been on my own since I was 14 years old and that’s just a way of life when you don’t have family or parents.”

Resilient met Curuvija through a workshop at Anawim House, a sober recovery home.

READ ALSO: Homeless worry about their future as deadline to move into hotel looms

“I told my story and it opened up a lot of opportunity for me – a lot of people approached me, I got to be in a room with government officials … and it turned into a positive thing for me,” he said, adding that he feels like his life has a purpose and meaning now.

Resilient said throughout his experience with homelessness he felt looked down on by society.

“I don’t think people understand that the majority of homelessness starts from trauma … there was a lot of bad things that happened to me that caused me to not be able to function in society,” he said, adding that’s what he tries to get across when he speaks in the Existence Project’s workshops.

He said that when he’s able to connect with someone through sharing his story, it feels like an accomplishment.

“It feels like there’s still hope. I feel like it’s a misunderstanding, a blind spot in society that people aren’t seeing and it’s a tragedy because why would you want to look down on someone who’s hurt and contribute to that pain.”

Resilient has also created a documentary of his own, chronicling his life while he was living on the street. It has been published on his YouTube channel Cory Resilient.

To learn more about The Existence Project visit theexistenceproject.ca.

Homeless

Just Posted

Victoria police are looking for a 38-year-old man after he allegedly assaulted and choked a missing 15-year-old victim in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
15-year-old choked in Beacon Hill tent, Victoria police assaulted while intervening

Police searching for 38-year-old suspect, two officers injured in altercation with park residents

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district teachers’ union, and its counterparts from Mount Arrowsmith district, seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union asks for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

Some Saanich firefighters have expressed concerns about first responders in the Island Health Region not being prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as an outbreak at a fire station would make service delivery a challenge. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich firefighters not prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine despite working on frontlines

Saanich members express frustration, department calls on Island Health to take action

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of UVic varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for non-police security for mental health patients at hospitals

Saanich police spent nearly 1,200 hours waiting with patients at hospitals in 2020

The Esquimalt Fire Department was called to a residence on Glengarry Place Tuesday afternoon for a fire that has displaced two families. There were no injuries and damage is being assessed. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt fire displaces two families

Fire damage at residence on Glengarry Place still being assessed

Janitors at Uptown Shopping Centre voted to strike April 20, citing increased risk from the pandemic, minimum wage pay and no paid sick days. (Black Press Media file photo)
Janitors at Uptown Shopping Centre in Saanich vote to strike

Workers say they’re working in high-risk conditions with near-minimum wage pay

Someone used this counterfeit $50 to pay for items at the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store in downtown Duncan in April 2021. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan businesses warned of counterfeit cash

Fake $50 passed at Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store

Canadian driver Paul Tracy pulls out of the pits during the morning session at the Molson Indy in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, July 26, 2003 (CP/Richard Lam)
Vancouver is considering hosting a Formula E race using electric cars

The race would be part of a three-day event focused on climate and sustainability

Chart from the April 20 B.C. budget shows sharp dip in real estate sales early in the COVID-19 pandemic and the even steeper climb since late 2020. (B.C. government)
Hot B.C. housing market drives property transfer tax gains

B.C. budget boosts tobacco, sweet drinks, carbon taxes

Most Read