Many of the people who are in prisons come from the hard streets, a life that can partially explain the complexities behind the person. Gordie was one such person who struggled to go beyond the armed robberies and violence of his complex world. Photo by Michael Swan

Gordie had trouble with the man in the mirror

  • August 13, 2015

There was a day when we would sit by the phone anxiously waiting for it to ring with important news. Nowadays, the phone is often muted, and it is a text message that intrudes into our vigil. So it was that at 3 a.m. I received the simple text message: “Gordie has passed. May he rest in peace.”

To rest in peace is perhaps the most profound wish we could have for Gordie, who for the greater part of his 68 years knew little peace. To know Gordie was to know a man who at times had the tenderness of a child, and yet who could erupt into violence if he felt threatened, or as often happened, if he felt that street justice had to be delivered swiftly; a complex man, who like so many people on the street has a story that begins to explain the complexity.

Gordie’s story was part of the 2007 TVOntario documentary Halfway House Chaplain, which spotlighted the work of Rev. Harry Nigh in supporting high risk offenders when they have been released from custody.

In the video Gordie walks into a dilapidated Victorian house where he grew up in Toronto. In the shambles of the living room he reminisced about his childhood which seemed to reflect the chaos of the house.

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