A Door That Was Always Unlocked

In my mind’s eye, I often try to visualize elements of our old home. The Pthalo Green and white linoleum floor in the kitchen. Faded beige carpet in the living room, and the pastel-coloured walls. At the edge of the carpet leading into the kitchen, during the cold of winter, morning sunlight would warm the floor and I would lie there while my mother made us breakfast. Our house was situated on a large corner lot in a small Alberta town, facing southwest. When it was being built, my father requested that the orientation be changed that way, as it was supposed to face east like all of the other houses on the block. But instead, we faced a large park and the mountains.

 

There was, more often than not, a broken-down car or two parked somewhere in the yard. Our bikes and toys, along with the garden hose and other riff-raff were also usually scattered around. It wasn’t the prettiest place around, but it was a safe, warm place in an often-cruel world.

 

We were part of a housing project launched by the Alberta government in the 1970s meant to aid low-income families in obtaining their own home. “Rural and Native” was the name of the initiative. Nearly one-third of the participants in this program identified as Indigenous and the mortgage formulas were based on an income-to-payment ratio. This meant that no matter what my family’s income was, only 25% of it would be taken to go towards the mortgage.

 

My parents sold this house a month before I turned 21. At the time, we didn’t know the profound effect that this move would have on all of us. Our family grew apart, without a large space for people to come and gather at, and a sense of security that was always with me since moving out at 17, disappeared forever.