THE RIGHT TO FOOD, HOUSING, MEDICAL TREATMENT
(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.
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.
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.