Shauna Pinkerton shared her journey from Dryden to East Hastings Street in Vancouver and back with Dryden Rotarians on Wednesday, April 1st.
East Hastings is the centre of Vancouver’s homeless and the epicentre of Canada’s substance abuse culture.
Shauna joined that culture when as a preteen she started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. By age 14 she had had an abortion and was onto crack.
By 1995, she and her boyfriend were in Abbotsford, BC where her friend was murdered. From there they moved to East Hastings where eventually they lost their housing and found themselves living on the street.
Vancouver’s skid row is a place of no rules, and sheer survival. Prostitution, drugs, arrests, and dallying with death’s door were simply part of life according to Shauna.  
Eventually, her family found her, but Shauna at first refused to leave as she said I was “addicted as much to the street as I was to drugs”.
However, her mother persisted and by 1997 she was back in Dryden, seeing a counsellor and taking methadone to deal with her drugs.
Although they were living in low-income housing somehow Shauna, had enrolled in Confederation College and by 2015 had graduated with honours in social work. Regrettably, her past criminal record is a barrier to permanent employment and she still struggles to make ends meet.
Currently, she is living with Trevor her fiancé and has two children.
Pinkerton Takes Action
This fall/winter three friends each committed suicide. All were under 25 years old.  This spurred Shauna into action. So, with few resources, Pinkerton, established a Facebook Page to raise awareness of mental health and additional problems in Dryden. Dryden, she said is “Five to seven years behind Kenora”.
The Facebook page is called “Dryden/Surrounding Communities Support for Mental Health and Addiction and it can be found at
As a result of the Facebook site, Pinkerton soon found herself trying to help those in Dryden who suffer from addiction and mental health problems. A particular focus was the homeless living behind Walmart and squatters living in abandoned buildings in Hillcrest Trailer Park.
Helping with applications for housing, finding them food and clothing, doing a needle cleanup, or doing garbage run for some people living in squalor were some of the services she rendered. Sometimes she said, just talking with the homeless, is all they need.
As a result of working with Carlista at the North Western Health Unit (NWHU) and the police some of the resources, she has depended upon.
Dryden’s leaders, however, need to do much more. To that end, she has started a petition on the Facebook page to find more money for mental health and addiction You can sign the petition at