homeless encampment Allan Gardens
A man reads about former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Allan Gardens. (Photo credit: Fin DePencier)

Addiction, trauma, family dysfunction and bad luck.

That’s what people living in one of Toronto’s better known homeless encampments said pushed them to the margins of society. Canadian Affairs walked through Allan Gardens' botanical garden and past a fenced-off playground before arriving at the encampment. We spoke with Monica and Jeff, two residents of the park, to learn their stories.

FD: How did you end up living in a tent in Allan Gardens? 

Monica: Basically, I just got dealt a really shitty hand in life. Actually, that’s not totally true. I grew up pretty normal, probably until the age of 14, I’d say. And then my mom was prescribed opiates from doctors, she had some back surgery done. And she wasn’t aware at all about what happens when you take them for too long.

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Fin DePencier is a journalist, photographer and filmmaker based in Toronto. Over the past few years, he has reported on the ground from Ukraine, Armenia, Lebanon and Kazakhstan as a correspondent for Palladium...