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Jacob Kaufman: From heroin addict to community advocate

Discover Jacob Kaufman's incredible journey from the tumultuous streets of Vancouver to becoming a beacon of hope for Winnipeg's unhoused community. Born into a challenging environment, Jacob endured foster care, abuse, and life on the streets. However, his resilience led him to find a new family within the street community, shaping his purpose.

Leaving behind a life of exploitation at 19, Jacob found solace in Winnipeg and embarked on a transformative path. Starting at Club Regent casino, he felt a calling to give back to those who had supported him during his darkest times. From advocating for safe injection sites in Vancouver to working with diverse communities in Winnipeg, Jacob's unwavering dedication shines through.

Now, at the forefront of Winnipeg's public washroom project and as a Board Member of Main Street project, Jacob is shaping a brighter future for the unsheltered. His inspiring TEDx talk delves into his remarkable journey, illustrating the incredible power of hope in transforming lives. Join us as we delve deeper into Jacob Kaufman's impactful work and his mission to bring compassion and support to those who need it most.

Episode Transcript:

Stuart Murray 0:00

This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One Territory, their traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and the Dene peoples and on the homeland of the Métis nation.

Amanda Logan (Voiceover) 0:19

This is Humans On Rights, a podcast advocating for the education of human rights. Here's your host, Stuart Murray.

Stuart Murray 0:30

What does a former heroin addict and a manager of the Big Yellow Tin Can Public Washroom on Main Street have in common? Well, they are one in the same and that is my guest today, Jacob Kaufman. Jacob welcome to Humans On Rights.

Jacob Kaufman 0:48

Hi, thanks for having me.

Stuart Murray 0:50

So Jacob, let's talk a little bit about what you're doing today. I know that you are managing the public washroom, which is located near Thunderbird House. How long have you been doing that and what do you find. Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Jacob Kaufman 1:09

I've been there since the beginning since the conception of it. When I moved back to Winnipeg a few years ago, there was no public washroom for anyone to use in Winnipeg, not just the unsheltered. So, I've been involved in it since the conception and the building and we've been open for just over a year and typical days just hanging out with some awesome people, being there if they need resources, or production supplies, whatever their needs.

Stuart Murray 1:43

So that's an interesting position to take Jacob, because it is deemed to be a public washroom, but clearly, it's much, much more than that and when you talk about a typical day, I suspect there's no such thing as a typical day, you're dealing with a lot of unsheltered people as you say. What are the other elements that people can anticipate when they come to the public washroom?

Jacob Kaufman 2:08

Being treated like people are not animals. So I do want to stress that it's not just the bathroom is not just for unsheltered people and it's really for any, anyone in Winnipeg, traveling through Winnipeg to us and it's just, we go by the philosophy of treat people like people, and that is my philosophy. And it's what I believe in its dignity, of being able to use the washroom in private and it's amazing we, we do everything we can for the community. Like it's just, it's amazing. The work that my staff and I do.

Stuart Murray 2:48

And let's just delve into that a little bit, if you will, Jacob. So for somebody who is unsheltered, and obviously, you know, they need a public washroom so that's one of the elements that's there. Let's talk about what other human elements I mean, this is a podcast about human rights. There's a lot of rights that you are offering up to the people that come into the public washroom, what else might they experience when they're there if if they need assistance?

Jacob Kaufman 3:12

We assist with housing, we've housed over 30 people since we opened so we do work with different organizations around the city and with housing, hygiene products, harm reduction products, we've also advocated for different people to get back into shelters or places they may be removed from. We also do love advocating with victims of abuse, to be honest, and getting them the help they need. I can't quite go into detail about that, but we really whatever the community needs, we will do 120% to attempt to give them and help them out with it.

Stuart Murray 3:51

It's way more than a public washroom. I don't mean to demean because the public washroom is super important, but it's way more than that.

Jacob Kaufman 3:58

Oh yeah, we're we're Resource Center slash public washroom, which sounds kind of weird. When when I say it out loud, and people don't quite get it, but when they come in, it's three stalls and then we're sitting by the fire exit out of the office, we are not office huggers. So we're there right point blank for the community for whatever they may need. Come up, talk to us. Hey, if you're frustrated, talk to us if you need like, just just to hang out and chill for a few minutes and, and get stuff off your chest. We're there. We're there for you to listen. So really, whatever whatever anybody needs. We're there to help within reason. We can only go so far with helping but because we are a little tiny bathroom. The idea was the bathroom that was the original idea was to build a public washroom here Winnipeg for everyone to use and the Resource Center is just the amazing byproduct of what it's turned into and what it always in the back of our heads we knew it would be.

Stuart Murray 5:03

So you mentioned something Jacob about that you offer there and you mentioned the word harm reduction. Tell us a little bit about what that's involving.

Jacob Kaufman 5:11

We offer condoms, lube, safe smoking kits and safe injection tool equipment. So what that is, is needles, water, alcohol, swabs, everything you'll need to be safe if you choose to use outside of our building. Of course, the safe smoking kits are essentially crack pipes with plastic mouth tubes on them that we hand out to the community.

Stuart Murray 5:35

Okay, now, why would they have plastic tubes on them?

Jacob Kaufman 5:39

Drugs are like alcohol. So I am lumping alcohol, cigarettes, all that into one thing, even coffee, it's a very social thing. People tend to like to do them with others and we encourage if you are going to use any kind of substance use them around other people, to bring them the risk of opioid poisoning and different poisonings from drugs. But what it does is it the plastic tubes, it's so if one person wants to smoke, they take the tube off, they give it to their friend beside them, and they can do it. And along with the needles and other equipment that we hand out, it actually brings down the rate of AIDS, HIV, hepatitis, just horrible things that tend to ravage different communities and different people, it brings that down to almost zero. Because there's no chance of you catching something from someone, if you're using fresh equipment.

Stuart Murray 6:33

You've got a fair bit of experience and you know, I'm going to make a note, you know, every podcast, I put episode notes on Jacob and one of the things I will write up in the in the notes or reminder is that you did a TEDx Talk, which I think it was back in March, it was I'm gonna encourage everybody to have a listen because they you talk about your your upbringing, your life story, and how it how you turned yourself around to do the kinds of things that you're doing today. In that TEDx Talk, you talked about the fact that Winnipeg saved your life. How so?

Jacob Kaufman 7:08

Well, when I came here in 2000, I knew nobody, I had nothing. It was the middle of winter and the people the community in Winnipeg took me in and they allowed me to figure out what I need to do for success and to get off heroin and it says, I love the city. I love the people. I love the community. I love the culture, everything about Winnipeg is amazing. A lot of people tend to get down on it, but for me, I just I can't picture anywhere else being home. Just through the connections I've made, through working and meeting new people. It's just it saved me. It helped me figure out what I need to do.

Stuart Murray 7:55

How did you go from heroin addict to being clean?

Jacob Kaufman 8:01

I, oh, boy, I I've tried for years to get off heroin and the other stuff that I was doing, and it wasn't working, because it was back then it was all AAA, NA based programs, and I'm not disrespecting those programs. But they never worked for me. They never, it just something about it didn't click in with me. Here in Winnipeg, I figured out that if I want to get off heroin, I'm just not going to do heroin. So it's it's a daily struggle for the last 23 years of I'm just not going to do heroin today and I know it sounds simple, but it's not. But that's, that is how I've gotten off it and not going back on is because today, I don't want to do it and I'm not going.

Stuart Murray 8:55

Congratulations. I mean, I don't say that lightly. I can't say that I you know, I can even try to sort of imagine what you've what you've lived Jacob, but I can hear your story. And I what is impressive is what you're now currently involved in. When you talk about, you know, somebody might come into the washroom who you know that they're a user, they're a heroin addict, and they're asking for a kit. How do you deal with that individual? What what sort of advice? If any, do you feel that you need to give them understanding that you are a former user?

Jacob Kaufman 9:29

So I don't give anyone advice. I don't tell anyone what to do. I don't give anyone my opinion on how they can be sober. So the way that that we've traditionally looked at addiction, right? Is you have to do X, Y, Zed to get off and to get off your drug of choice and as always been so stringent. You have to what is the interventions, you have to go cold turkey like that works for some people, you have to go to meetings, but it doesn't work for everyone. When people come to me, and they asked me how to do something, how to get off their drug of choice, I don't tell them how, because that's up for them to decide. So once that person has figured out what they want to do, and come to me and say, Jake, I want detox Jake, I want this, I want this, I want this. They've come up with the plan that they know what that will work for them. So I could give all the advice and talk to them and blew my face, but the truth is, until a person is truly ready to change, and part of that I fully believe is them coming up with the solution. I'm just here to help. I always say that I don't walk in front of people, I don't walk beside them, I walk slightly behind and we'll help in any way I can once they figured it out. And I mean, me personally, in the work I've done, I have 15 people who've been housed permanently for the last four years, four to five years and and they have their family back. They have jobs, they're amazing. They're doing what they needed to do. And all they did was come up to me and be like, hey, Jacob, I'm ready. Can you help me with this? And I'd be like, alright, what do you want? So so that's how I do it. That does my magic trick, shall we say.

Stuart Murray 11:25

And just coming back to the public washroom, it's it's not open 24 hours at this point, if I understand correctly?

Jacob Kaufman 11:32

No, no, we're open from 7am till 11pm at night.

Stuart Murray 11:36

And how many people would you say since the public washroom has been open would you would you have seen as visitors?

Jacob Kaufman 11:44

Goodness so anywhere between one a 500 a month to 4000 a month. A lot of people, a lot.

Stuart Murray 11:57

And you see the same people who are say unsheltered? Do they you see sort of the same people coming to see you or do you see such a tremendous change of people passing through, by the way just so I can ask this question just out of respect. What what do you call people that come to the public washroom? You call them visitors? Do you call them, clients, friends?

Jacob Kaufman 12:18

Family, friends, people. Yeah. I don't subscribe to two labeling people there. They're all just people.

Stuart Murray 12:27

Yeah. Family.

Jacob Kaufman 12:28

Yeah. They they are family.

Stuart Murray 12:30

Yeah. So do you see a regular members of the family, the community come through or is it quite a varied group, Jacob, from your perspective?

Jacob Kaufman 12:40

We have our regulars, but Winnipeg is a hub. So it's in the middle of the country. So we have people coming and going like, from day to day, so we see everybody.

Stuart Murray 12:52

Yeah and I think the one one element that I want to bring into the conversation is right across the street from where the public washroom is, and, and a good friend of mine and obviously, somebody that you know, extremely well is is El Weeb he's been on this podcast talking about how he went through being unsheltered and how he's now be like, you become a strong educator and advocate on behalf of that, that community. What does Hope Ally mean to you Jacob?

Jacob Kaufman 13:21

Hope Ally again, as a corridor, in in downtown Winnipeg, that leads to almost every resource center, every every ally of folk for people, I aspire to be just that much like that human being is amazing, but it's hope. And and I talked about this in my TED Talk, I don't subscribe to that BS, hopelessness thing. There is no hopeless situation. Because in the back of our head, there's always that little voice that says, this will get better. This can get better.

Stuart Murray 13:56

Yeah and you've seen that. I mean, you you've lived that.

Jacob Kaufman 14:00

Yeah, if if I were to have just gone with the whole, oh, this is hopeless. This is hopeless and yeah, I've thought it. I'm subscribed to that train of thought for a while until it clicked in my head that I just shut the heck up for a minute and bird that voice in my head that this isn't open. Like, I would have subscribed to that I would be dead or not in the position that I'm in now.

Stuart Murray 14:27

You know, one of the things that is a fascination when we had that event, which you were very much involved with. Talking about tackling homelessness, why do we find ourselves as in a society where there are so many people that are unsheltered? I mean, you you've been there, you've lived on the street? You've come through it, Jacob? It's not a simple answer. I can appreciate that, but how do you feel that we've come into such a situation where there's so many unsheltered?

Jacob Kaufman 14:57

Well, there's always been so many unsheltered It's just it's getting more prevalent and it's getting more out there. There is no 100% reason, like it's everything from trauma abuse to goodness, we're being taxed to death, it cost, the other day when I went yesterday when I went shopping, it cost me $300 and I am one person. So there's a billion different reasons as to why.

Stuart Murray 15:29

And, and I mean, obviously having, you know, the public washroom is, is, is the start of the right direction, you're obviously helping a lot of people in many ways.

Jacob Kaufman 15:38

We try, we try.

Stuart Murray 15:41

You know, Jacob, if you could be, you know, the prime minister for a day, the mayor for a day, the probably the premier for a day, you know, everybody talks about homelessness, trying to tackle it, what message would you give to those decision makers about the best way to start tackling homelessness?

Jacob Kaufman 15:58

I always think my head what if I was the creator god for a day? How would I deal with this? And honestly, I would just create housing, all day, every different kinds of social housing and different kinds of housing that we've ever heard of all of us and there's a billion of them, it's I would create them all. Because when you give someone a house, and you allow them to understand that this is your place, it's yours. It belongs to you. No one can take it away. Then people get comfortable and realize that this is my house. They treated nice, it's it's, I would create housing.

Stuart Murray 16:42

On this podcast, I had Melissa Stone, who oversees of small village of homes behind Thunderbird house, ask them upwind economic, I think is the proper name. It's about creating a place that is a home, it's not the boat the size. As a matter of fact, I think sometimes the smaller people feel more comfortable in a smaller environment. Is that kind of your experience?

Jacob Kaufman 17:05

Yes, yes. So we can take people off the streets and put them into a hotel or a different kind of housing, unless they know it's theirs. It doesn't feel like home, it doesn't feel right and coming off the streets after years of sleeping on the cement, as I call it. I mean, it took me almost eight years to sleep on an actual bed. Until I met my wife, I preferred sleeping on the floor because in the mattress, I wasn't comfortable doing it. So it's just allowing people a home, to feel safe to feel like it's theirs.

Stuart Murray 17:49

You spent some time in BC and Vancouver or Surrey may be in particularly working at what was deemed to be safe injection sites. Are you a believer that we need more safe injection sites?

Jacob Kaufman 18:04

Yes. So when I worked in in Surrey, I worked at a shelter and in the back of the shelter, we had a safe smoking tent. So people could go there outside and they could smoke their substances and we had a safe injection site in front of the building. And the fact is, is that safe places to use drugs that people use, choose to use. Number one, it provides them with life safety help. So if they have met have an incident where they have drug poisoning, we're there to help. It also massively brings down the rate of AIDS, HIV, hepatitis and other communicable diseases, which is which is massive. Quick story, when Vancouver had the Olympics a few years back, every time you'd have the Olympics in a country, the who the World Health Organization has to come down and do an audit. So they actually did an audit of Hastings Street in Vancouver where where I cut my teeth and in a nine block radius, it had a higher rate of AIDS, HIV and hepatitis than most small countries in developing nations a higher rate and this is Canada. So since we've actually expanded the safe injection sites in downtown Vancouver, it has not solved the unsheltered problem or any of the other problems. But what it has done is it's created a safe place for people to use to get help when they want it and yeah, it is incredible.

Stuart Murray 19:37

What do you say Jacob to the notion when the conversation around safe injection sites becomes part of a public conversation, that there would be those that would sort of advocate and say, well, no, that's going to create more drug users mean that's that's what that's going to do. It's it's not going to help it's going to create a bigger problem because more people will want to use drugs there.

Jacob Kaufman 19:59

Know the fact because people are using drugs everywhere, so I cannot go into names. I will say that when the safe smoking site open when the safe injection site would open that I worked at previously, we would see a large amount of people with very surprising jobs come in, do their drugs, and then go to work and by work, I mean the CFO. That's all I can say.

Stuart Murray 20:26

I won't ask any more, but just to be clear, what you're saying is that people that would come in that are users, you're giving them a safe place to use. These are professional athletes, business people, lawyers?

Jacob Kaufman 20:40

Lawyers, doctors, educators, you name it, people use drugs. And I'm I'm cool with that. All I want to do is make sure people are safe when they use because unfortunately, until we get a safe supply of drugs, people are going to spill OD and have drug poisoning. I hope that answers your question.

Stuart Murray 21:03

No, no, I listen, you know it, it does and because I think a lot of the conversation today is done by from time to time not trying to be critical. I'm just trying to sort of do an analysis when conversations around issues like this happen. It's not always the people that are frontline, frontline people like you, Jacob, who have come through this process, from the the user side to now the advocate for safety, knowing again, that people use drugs, that you want to do it in a way that is in a safe way. And I'm not sure that how often the people that work, the front lines are asked of their opinion, there's always a sense that well, we know how to help you. And the way we're going to help you is through the following policy or the following process, which might be interesting in terms of words on a piece of paper, but they don't actually be they don't actually help the frontline workers to deal with the real issue.

Jacob Kaufman 22:08

No, I mean, everywhere you go, if you're working in this field, there's going to be policies and procedures and like, everywhere you go through, there's going to be issues with those. But I just want to go back like to the question you asked me is, and that's nobody wakes up and says, hey, I'm going to be a drug addict. It's 99% of people, but I know that I've experienced in my life. Number one, it wasn't like through gateway drugs like marijuana or alcohol. It was, hey, I want to try it and then they're hooked. So we live in Winnipeg, right? So right now there's there's snow on the ground, and it is icy as hell. So you and I, we go outside, we shovel your driveway, we slip we fall, we hurt our back, then we go to the hospital and doctor gives us those little white pills. While for a lot of us, it's the second you take those little white pills, you're hooked. Like it's addiction is not sitting on top of the cloud and I say this a lot too, it's not just waiting to pick out say people of color or, or people who who are impoverished. It's it's there waiting for everyone. So anyone can become an advocate at a time. Like no no one chooses to be addicted to, to a substance that they have to take every day to to be well to survive.

Stuart Murray 23:41

So one of the things just for listeners, we listened, we live in the cities, you say in Winnipeg, we're no different than a lot of cities, but you know, you're driving in your vehicle, you might be listening to the news, it might be having a conversation with your seatmate in your passenger in your car, you pull up to an intersection, the light turns red. And you realize there's somebody standing holding a handwritten cardboard sign that says, 'please help anything we'll do'. What advice would you give to somebody who might say, What should I do there? I'm not sure what to do. I want to help I'm not sure how to help. I'm not sure if I am helping if I give them something. So I try to just turn away what what advice would you give to somebody who is faced with that as we all are on a daily basis?

Jacob Kaufman 24:29

If you want to give give that that's it. I can't tell people I can tell you my experience. So I don't have it on right right now. One second. I just gotta grab something. Just but we're here. So sorry, I have it on my shelf. I don't know. It's weird. So I have my sort of watch here not too fancy 300 bucks that I went and spent on it. So the reason that I went out and spent 300 bucks on watch I've had Just watch for years. And the reason I bought it is because I used to sit and panhandle on Robson Street in Vancouver. That's where all the movie stars, although like $5,000 for a T shirt stores are and I would sit there all day and I would simply ask, do you know what time it is, and I would be ignored all day. So I bought that, because to help with that crappy memory, so talk to people, just say hi, give what you can, if you want to, if you're not comfortable, give me money, give, give, give an apple give, give some kind of food, but just say hi. Just to say I don't ignore people. It's, it's, we raise our kids to be good. We raise our kids to be to be nice to people, and talk to people and not ignore people. But as adults, we tend to forget that, which is a huge thing about growing up. So if you're comfortable saying give what you can, if you don't want to, and you're dead against it, then don't. That's my advice from people.

Stuart Murray 26:09

And the notion, again, I think some of us would say that I might give you a toonie or $5 if I happen to have it, but you know, I hope you're gonna go to a place to buy a sandwich in order to buy some food. I mean, that would be you know, the hope of the person giving the money to the individual standing there. That may not be their their end use. I mean, they may want to use that money to foster a habit, drug habit that they have. And I think that's sometimes the the thinking that that's why I won't give you that money, because that's what you're going to spend it on. What do you what do you say to people that that have that feeling?

Jacob Kaufman 26:48

We don't know. We just don't know what they're gonna spend it on. Personally, I don't care what they spend it on. In some, in a lot of cases, it's for food, it's to buy things like there's only a limited supply of free mints, and free to cause right now. So it essentially is getting money for what ever you need. So we get paid, we go to work, right? We get a paycheck, a lot of us, not me, because I don't really like stealing, but a lot of people buy booze with that. They have to have their two glasses of wine afterwards, or two beers or three beers like it's they're going to spend it on what they spend it on and if you're comfortable with that, just just help out.

Stuart Murray 27:34

What's the we you know, we talked a little bit about this during the the tackling homelessness session that we had, what's your sort of thought about judging people? You know, we had a conversation about the fact that there's a lot of just natural human instinct that you see somebody and you judge them. And I think that was something that you and all the people on the panel basically sort of said, don't judge people. Why is that? Why is that important?

Jacob Kaufman 28:03

Okay, when I first hit Granville Street in Vancouver, I was I was a child. I was a kid. I weighed like 90 pounds soaking wet. I was I was had an attitude. I was I was stupid. These people, the homeless people, the unsheltered people down there, people's first impressions was, oh, you're a young kid, they're gonna pimp you out, they're gonna sell you, they're gonna beat you. They're gonna use you, they're gonna throw you away. They're gonna do all these horrible things. They took me in they showed me actual law. Discipline was part of it. I needed to be disciplined in order to survive. So these people that everyone would think x, y, z would happen. No, they they're just like come here, what's your story? Where are you from? Holy crap you were putting into this foster home where they did x, y, z to perform the exorcisms on a new beat you daily. We're gonna take you in and show you something different and that's my thing about judging people is the the my family took me in and showed me love.

Stuart Murray 29:13

And in that case, your definition of family were other unsheltered people that surrounded you?

Jacob Kaufman 29:20

Yeah, and they're still my family that that's why when I do when I do label people around my work is is as family because they know I'm removed from it. And I'm working now and I'm no longer sleeping on the streets. They're still my family. They're my my brothers, my sisters, my moms, my dads, my aunties, my uncles, my teachers. I learn every day from the community.

Stuart Murray 29:46

Jacob one of the elements, I think that you talked about in your, your, your TEDx Talk, was how you had a very difficult upbringing, but you had have turned yourself around in an amazing way and become such a, these are my words I'll call you a champion for for others because you advocate strongly and you educate those. I know you don't like to be called that, but-

Jacob Kaufman 30:14

I'm just a dog chasing his tail, man. That's all I have. I appreciate it.

Stuart Murray 30:22

Yeah, no. Well, and I love that about the fact that that's how you see the world because I mean, you're clearly feet on the ground. You know, you're a very realistic and I think that's what you try to tell other people. I mean, we're coming into winter, and Winnipeg can be quite cold in winters. In fact, you arrived in Winnipeg, when it was quite cold. And I think you found a bit of shelter around a church somewhere when you first arrived. How do people survive when they're unsheltered in the winter?

Jacob Kaufman 30:50

They survive man. People been surviving in in minus 40 temperatures since the dawn of time. A lot of people, especially in encampments, they stock up during the summer, they get things like generators, they the the money that you hear about when panhandling go goes to things to stock up for winter, so they insulate their tabs, they, they just do it, unfortunately, some people die of exposure, which is the sad reality of it.

Stuart Murray 31:24

And that is one of the you know, the elements when you have a UNL and I was, I was invited to attend the ceremony had at Hope Alley where you really list the names of people who have passed away in this year for for a number of reasons, um, some of them beefy, because of a freezing to death, others would be from sickness and etc. But that is quite a powerful ceremony, Jacob, that you and you and Al and others have, just talk a little bit about what it means to you to be surrounded by that community, that family and and reading some of the names of, of your family, your extended family who have passed away in this in this calendar year.

Jacob Kaufman 32:08

It's heart wrenching, it's amazing bombing and really heart wrenching, because 99% of the people who pass away for whatever reason living on shelter, shouldn't have their there's different, there's just different things that I don't want to get into that that could have prevented a lot of those deaths. We have to remember the people that passed before that passed. It's their names have to be remembered, their memes had to be said out loud, and they have to be remembered.

Stuart Murray 32:42

And that comes kind of full circle to what you've been saying about how we treat humans as human beings. I mean, without judging them. Everybody's a human being everybody has a right to be here, there's existing, some people have a number of issues that they're they're struggling with or trying to deal with. They're looking for help and I think you Jacob Kaufman are the right person, for those people to seek advice from because of what you have been able to do with your life.

Jacob Kaufman 33:14

I appreciate your high praise, thank you.

Stuart Murray 33:17

Well, it's not high praise it's a fact. I mean, you've you know, a lot of people, you know, would not have survived as you have. I mean, you you made it your your life to survive. And now that you're on the other side, you're you're helping people you're advocating as you are on this on this on this podcast. But but you know, every day that you do that when community comes to use the public washroom, for example.

Jacob Kaufman 33:41

It's, it's as what I do. It really is. It's just it's an honor to get back to the people that took me in when no one else would and to teach me and help me grow and give me amazing life lessons. It's yeah.

Stuart Murray 34:07

So Jacob, one of the questions, I just love to get your thoughts on, if somebody is listening to this podcast and is hearing some of the challenges that we have dealing with unsheltered dealing with people who have an addiction, who I mean all sorts of things, people who are, are struggling to try to be a better person of who they are and I'm not even sure if that's the right way to explain it. But what I would like to get from you is if somebody said, how can I help? How can I make a difference? How can I get involved to either be an advocate or how can I help those who are looking for assistance, but don't know what to do?

Jacob Kaufman 34:51

I mean, donations are always great to whatever organization that you choose, it will go back to the people so donation is great and just educated. Educate yourself and realize that, like, they're not just the people, especially the unsheltered people, like they're not, they're not throw aways, their people should be treated like it. Like we all have people in our lives every one of us who suffer from addiction, we don't like to talk about it or, or call the people out or know or acknowledge their existence, but but they're suffering, like talk to them. Treat people like people.

Stuart Murray 35:33

That's fantastic. Jacob Kaufman, it is always great to spend a bit of time with you. It's great to get to start to get to know you better and I look forward to more conversations with you. I look forward to being the audience when you're talking about your experience. If I were to give you just kind of the last word in this Humans On Rights podcast that was really to talk about, you know, the issues that we need to have more conversation about with respect to the rights of human beings, what word would you use, or what comments or paragraph or whatever you want to say that you would like to leave people as we say goodbye on this podcast.

Jacob Kaufman 36:16

Number one, treat people like people, and I'm gonna lose sleep, both the end my TED Talk here, if I can remember that. That guy you see on the side of the street, drinking mouthwash, be kind to that lady you see screaming at the sky and talking to themselves and throwing stuff around. Just talk to them, talk to them, treat them like people, that nasty little kid that's that's 90 pounds soaking wet, who is doing unspeakable things for money on the corner getting exploited, just realize that like 20, 30 years from now, 10 years, five years, it doesn't matter how many years, these are the people that will be that could be teaching your kids. It could be your doctor, could be your doctor's assistant, it could be look what I've done. It could be a person doing a podcast with you right now, in 23 years. Just treat people like people don't look at what they're doing. Don't don't go into things with horse blinders on look at the whole picture of what they could be the potential in it. Every time that I constantly bring this up. I'll point out certain community members at work while talking to the people that I work with. And I'm like, man, can you imagine in 10 years when that person is say, up north in a northern community, teaching youth like it's, it's everyone has this potential in them and just don't think they don't. That's it.

Stuart Murray 37:58

That's a great way to end this podcast. Jacob Kaufman, thank you so much for taking time and, you know, thanks for for what you do and you continue to do with the broader family and community. It's, it's just, it's great to have you on this podcast. So thank you for this.

Jacob Kaufman 38:13

Thank you, and have a great day.

Stuart Murray 38:16

You too. Take care.

Matt Cundill 38:17

Thanks for listening to Humans On Rights. A transcript of this episode is available by clicking the link in the show notes of this episode. Humans On Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray, social media marketing by Buffy Davey, music by Doug Edmund. For more go to

Stuart Murray 38:38

Produced and distributed by the Sound Off Media Company.


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