The job description

Elvis Lachance (photo from Facebook)As I got home, I was hit by the news that Elvis Lachance had been murdered in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.  I have known Elvis for years and he has been homeless or incarcerated for the entire time I have known him.  I saw him las Tuesday night as he wandered into the Rook and Raven after City Council was over and was trying to panhandle.  We didn’t have any cash for him and as he was on his way I was thinking that he would benefit from staying at The Lighthouse.  I made a not to talk to him this week before he heard that he had been picked up again and tossed back into the Correctional Centre.  I wrote a note to talk to the Community Chaplain to ask him when Elvis was getting out.   Then I heard that Elvis was found dead in his prison cell this morning.

To put Elvis’ murder in perspective;  he has a huge heart and was incredibly gentle.  He knew sign language at times came in incredibly useful at the Salvation Army when helping house deaf people.  Elvis was the guy that would help people with their plates and food and do everything that he could do to help out.  He was a small guy and was never ever aggressive with anyone.  Some guys fight all of the time on the streets but Elvis was a peacemaker.  In seven years I never saw him once make an aggressive or mean act.  It isn’t right that he is dead tonight and I suspect he is jail for something relatively minor.  As a colleague at another agency said to me tonight, “he was my bud”.

I don’t know how to process the murder of a client.  At one time I keep a significant emotional distance from most of who I deal with, yet at the same time it is guys like Elvis that motivate me to get out of bed in the morning.  I failed him years ago once and he got hurt and I have always carried that with me.  To find out that he is dead really hits me hard.

I get asked why I keep doing this and this year more than any other I ask myself the same question.   There are easier and more profitable ways to make a living than working in an emergency housing provider and I am told they don’t have the same level of stress that this does.  I spent much of the summer pondering a move to Calgary where I could go and see the Calgary Flames and Stampeders and more than anything, not have the stress of working with the hard to house.  In the end we decided to stay because I thought I could make a difference in Saskatoon.

I love Saskatoon and I love working at The Lighthouse but tonight I feel worse than I have in a long time.  It’s going to take a while to leave this behind while at the same time it’s the memory of this absolutely pointless and preventable death that will have me back at my desk tomorrow morning.

I will say that when people like Elvis die in prison, there is something wrong with the justice and correctional systems.  Elvis was maybe 100 pounds and 5’4 inches tall.  He wasn’t a threat to anyone and at the same time could not have defended himself.

7 thoughts on “The job description”

  1. Hi Jordon, Elvis never caused any trouble when I would see him. I got to know him a little bit a few years ago. Wish I would have connected with him more recently I truly believe he is in a better place. people like Elvis matter. Thanks for paying attention to those that most of us forget.

  2. I was really sad to read this Jordan. That’s always been my biggest fear in ministry, to lose someone like that. For sure I’ll be praying for you and the people who knew Elvis. You’re doing a good work man! Don’t let these moments define you. There are many, many people who live different lives because of the work you do.

  3. I really appreciate that you, DeeAnn, and others are using social media to inform citizens of Saskatoon what is going on and who are the people involved in the work you do. I think your social media contributions are essential for so many reasons. I wish more people / organizations would follow your lead (interesting but very sad that we hear nothing of the Salvation Army now that you’ve left.) If it weren’t for reading your blog, I would know nothing of Elvis’ life, and why his death was especially tragic. I really wish Mr. Harper and Mr. Toews would volunteer to spend some incognito time in prison and or remand cells to research the effect that their social policies have had on Canada.

  4. Your work is the most important. Your work with Elvis did make a difference to him at the time and to the others he helped. I was very touched that this should happen to anyone and I do not know him. Your service and kindness and your blog will reach out and I pray that you will feel the reward of what you are doing.

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