Former homeless man donates $10,000 to Canadian shelter

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A Canadian man who was homeless for years has donated $10,000 to a shelter that once supported him.

The act of kindness has triggered a slew of additional donations for Shelter House in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which had to close an outreach program April 1 when it ran out of funds for the operation. Its Street Outreach Services program involved staffers driving around to check on the homeless, intoxicated and others at risk on the streets, and take them to hospitals, detox facilities and shelters.

Alexandra Calderon, a development officer at the shelter, said an aboriginal man who had used the facility and the outreach program extensively walked in recently and said he wanted to give back. Calderon said her first reaction was to urge him to keep the money, but he wanted to make sure his friends are safe.

Both Calderon and the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, then broke into tears.

"He was so proud to do it," Calderon said. "It's such a moving donation because it comes from somebody who has nothing."

Calderon said the man has his own apartment and was at the shelter in early April during a news conference at which David Paul Achneepineskum, the CEO of Matawa First Nation, pledged $10,000 a year for the next five years to the organization on behalf of the First Nation. At that time, Achneepineskum called on others to step up.

Inspired by that call, the man made his donation after he received compensation from a class-action lawsuit against the federal government involving Canada's notorious residential school system.

In that system, some 150,000 children from First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities were taken from their families and forced to attend government schools over much of the last century. The children were not allowed to speak their native languages and were forced to convert to Christianity. Many were beaten, verbally abused and up to 6,000 were said to have died.