Winnipeg Free Press - - COVER -

Ar­ti­cle 17.

(1) Ev­ery­one has the right to own prop­erty alone as well as in as­so­ci­a­tion with oth­ers.

(2) No one shall be ar­bi­trar­ily de­prived of his prop­erty.

Ar­ti­cle 18.

Ev­ery­one has the right to free­dom of thought, con­science and re­li­gion; this right in­cludes free­dom to change his re­li­gion or be­lief, and free­dom, ei­ther alone or in com­mu­nity with oth­ers and in pub­lic or pri­vate, to man­i­fest his re­li­gion or be­lief in teach­ing, prac­tice, wor­ship and ob­ser­vance.

Ar­ti­cle 19.

Ev­ery­one has the right to free­dom of opin­ion and ex­pres­sion; this right in­cludes free­dom to hold opin­ions with­out in­ter­fer­ence and to seek, re­ceive and im­part in­for­ma­tion and ideas through any me­dia and re­gard­less of fron­tiers. LONG be­fore the day’s first wiener hit the flat­top grill, Will Gault al­ready smelled of hot­dogs — sweet, glo­ri­ous hot­dogs.

Gault, 41, has spent the last month dol­ing out whis­tle dogs and foot-long franks with all of the fix­ings out of a kiosk — Willy Dogs — in the Deer Lodge Curling Club. The chef had a ban­ner year: in Fe­bru­ary, his daugh­ter Ire­land had suc­cess­ful cochlear im­plant surgery; in April, he be­gan run­ning a hot­dog cart out­side St. Boni­face Hos­pi­tal; in Au­gust, he mar­ried the love of his life; and in Novem­ber, he took his spat­ula to the curling club.

Seven years ago, he was home­less, job­less and strug­gling with al­co­holism and sub­stance ad­dic­tion.

“At cer­tain points, I wasn’t sure I’d make it out alive,” he says.

Be­fore that, Gault was em­ployed with the prov­ince as a peace of­fi­cer, and had what he calls a good life. But be­neath the sur­face, sub­stance­abuse is­sues fes­tered. A for­mer part­ner kicked him out of their home and Gault found him­self on the street. “All the doors were no longer open,” he re­calls. “The couch was no longer avail­able.”

His first night with­out a bed, Gault felt lost. It hit him that he had nowhere to eat, let alone sleep, and made his way to Siloam Mis­sion. “They had one mat left,” he says. He spent a few weeks at the fa­cil­ity, ac­cess­ing sub­stance-man­age­ment re­sources.

For a few years, he was in and out of treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties and sta­ble hous­ing. He had a strong de­sire to get back to where he once was, but he be­gan us­ing harder drugs and his al­co­hol abuse be­came un­bear­able. It was a com­bi­na­tion he feared would be his end.

A June 2015 seizure was the last straw. “I woke up the next day, and ever since then, I’ve been sober,” he says.

With the con­fi­dence he gained dur­ing his re­cov­ery, Gault met his now-wife, started a fam­ily with her and took the plunge and be­came a small­busi­ness owner.

When he saw the curling club’s ad on Ki­jiji sev­eral weeks ago, he ap­plied, be­liev­ing it was of­fer­ing a job as a line cook; he had no idea the club was look­ing for some­one to run the kiosk.

But Bran­don Co­hoe, the club’s fa­cil­ity man­ager, was taken by Gault’s en­thu­si­asm dur­ing the in­ter­view. Co­hoe hired him with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

Gault has spent most his life work­ing with food, start­ing out at 11 at Nib­bler’s Nosh, where his sis­ter ran the kitchen. He learned the ropes there, and by age 15, he’d be­come the kitchen su­per­vi­sor at Ele­phant & Cas­tle, a job he’d hold for three years. Food made sense to him, and hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate his own menu and serve the club’s 700 mem­bers feels like a dream come true, a mir­a­cle, in some ways, es­pe­cially af­ter know­ing what it’s like to be nowhere, with noth­ing.

“I feel like I have a pur­pose now,” he says. “Be­fore all this, I was just ex­ist­ing.”

But Gault knows he’s been blessed, be­cause Win­nipeg lacks ad­e­quate detox and long-term re­cov­ery fa­cil­i­ties and there’s a short­age of af­ford­able hous­ing. The cur­rent meth cri­sis has put even more pres­sure on avail­able re­sources, he says.

“We need more ac­cess, we need longer ac­cess and we need to have more sup­ports in place,” he says.

Gault and his wife are now look­ing to buy a house of their own af­ter a few years liv­ing with her par­ents. He wants three bed­rooms, a yard for Ire­land to run around in —some­where for her to make mem­o­ries — and one other thing.

“I want a re­ally big kitchen,” he says.

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