GARIBALDI PROVINCIAL PARK — Looking out on Cheakamus Lake, Tom Sauls recalls how he would often stand at Crab Park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and gaze north at the mountains, dreaming of someday escaping homelessness and addiction to find refuge in the wilderness.
Sauls, 57, would take swigs of strong beer beneath the stars and picture himself climbing the green hills to look down upon the glimmering city. In his mind, Burrard Inlet would finally separate him from the shouting and sirens that woke him as he slept on benches, in buses or beneath bridges.
“I knew in myself that’s where I’d like to be,” Sauls said. “But it was impossible.”
After Sauls’ parents were murdered when he was a toddler, he was adopted by a loving family in Kamloops. But when, as a teenager, he learned the truth about his biological parents’ fate, the trauma sent him into despair and substance abuse …