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Holiday Hero: Kyle Arnold

Kyle Arnold works in various capacities in Thunder Bay to help and support people battling addictions. (Submitted by Kyle Arnold)

When Kyle Arnold helps people in the city struggling with mental health and addictions, he knows what they're going through.

Arnold works in several capacities in Thunder Bay to support people battling addictions, promoting harm reduction, and advocating for change.

He says he spent 20 years living on the streets all across Canada, admitting that during much of that time he wasn’t a great person, but did what he had to do to survive.

“A lot of the work I do today, as much as I love doing what I do, but it’s also my way of making amends to the world,” he says.

“I try to do the best I can at this work and I go the extra mile to be able to give back to the world that I really took a lot of things from.”

By day, he’s an outreach worker with the NorWest Community Health Centres, where he helps people get on safer supply, navigate systems to access services, and exit human trafficking and gang situations.

In the evenings, he’s with People Advocating for Change through Empowerment (PACE), where he works in adult mental health, at the hospital emergency department to help people navigate through services and will soon be the coordinator of the organization’s warming shelter.

His lived experience not only drives his work, but also gives him a unique ability to connect and help.

“It’s rough here right now and people really are fighting to survive,” he says. “Having that lived experience to be able to talk to people about my own journey is so powerful because I’ve been there.

“You can’t teach what I’ve learned from my own experiences. To be able to be on the streets here in Thunder Bay with people going through the same things, for them to be able to talk to somebody who has found a way out I think is powerful. I found a way out, and a lot of them want to know how I did that.”

Arnold says he's able to meet people where they're at, which allows him to provide the help and support they're looking for in that moment.

He also volunteers as a board member with Team DEK, a volunteer organization supporting people battling addiction and advocating for more local resources.

Team DEK is a group all brought together by their own experiences, he says.

"Whether it's a mom, an aunt, a family member, a sister, a boyfriend or girlfriend, we all have so many different experiences around addiction and it's so powerful to all have that same goal and that's just to help people," he says.

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