Everyone knew him as DA. But his real name was Douglas Alexander McDougall.
He died two days ago from a drug overdose. He was living at Seaton House, a Toronto homeless shelter for men located on George Street near Dundas in the Downtown Eastside.
“He was a great man,” said one of his friends.
“Helped us all. We were like family. We had a street family. I love him to death and I pray that he goes to heaven. I hope you all pray that he goes to heaven too because he was a kind soul. God bless DA.”
The man who spoke so lovingly of DA told everyone that he became homeless nine years ago.
“It’s been a long nine years,” he said. “But the first day I became homeless I came down here. Jerry Newman (who was homeless and died on July 4) helped me out. It was a cold night and he gave me the sweater off his own back so I would stay warm. So God bless DA and Jerry Newman. We all love and miss you.”
It was the second Tuesday of the month. The day people gather to remember those who’ve died on the streets of Toronto as a direct result of homelessness.
“We like to remember their lives, celebrate the friendships we had with them,” said Greg Cook, an outreach worker at Sanctuary Ministries.
“And also we meet to say that it’s not okay that people are dying because they don’t have housing.”
In the summertime, most people are pre-occupied with their vacation plans. But death never takes a vacation. Particularly for homeless people who are far more likely to die prematurely than the rest of the population.
Besides DA and Jerry Newman, two other men died last month. One was a regular at the Good Neighbour’s Club. His body was found in an alleyway near Shuter Street. The other died in front of Metropolitan Church near the outdoor chess tables.
They were both “John Does.”
“Even though we don’t know their names, it’s important to remember them,” said Cook.
Last Wednesday, the Toronto Star reported that a church wants to convert an empty building on Vaughan Rd and relocate their men’s 50-bed shelter to the new location. But some residents and merchants are opposed to the idea. They said the area offers little in supports for this vulnerable population.
“Which I think is really unfortunate," he said.
The church was hoping to open the new shelter by October, pending City council approval.
On Thursday, the community development and recreation committee will meet to discuss the issue before deciding whether or not to green light the project at a future City council meeting.
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