Home News/Canada/British Columbia Homeless guy transformed church caretaker reconnects with sibling after 22 years

Homeless guy transformed church caretaker reconnects with sibling after 22 years

It had actually been a harsh number of evenings after a speedy week and also Gordon Petrie, that was boiling down off a bender, had a great deal on his mind.

It was July and also he would certainly been informed that the shed he had actually been staying in behind a church on 108 Opportunity near Whalley Blvd in Surrey, B.C. — initially as a squatter and also later on, after acquiring the trust fund of the church head of state, as a visitor– was a fire danger and also he needed to relocate.

Also on an excellent day, it would certainly be a great deal for Petrie to procedure, and also this certain day was toning up to be anything however excellent.

However as he was appearing of his daze, he listened to a female’s voice that seemed a great deal like his departed mommy’s, and also whatever transformed.

” I listened to, ‘Gordon, is that you?’– much like my mommy made use of to claim,” Petrie stated. “It took me a pair secs to understand what was taking place. After that she stood out nearby and also I simply brightened.”

It was his sibling, Kris Zemlak, that he had not seen in 22 years.

Kris Zemlak and also Gordon Petrie rejoined in Surrey, B.C., at the Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church in July, after not seeing each various other for 22 years. ( Bruce Hitchen)

” It’s difficult approaching somebody you have not seen for that long, and also it was actually, actually hard to see just how he lived,” Zemlak stated.

” I might inform what his way of living had actually done to him.”

Searching for sanctuary

Back in March, Bruce Hitchen, the church head of state for Ukrainian Holy Cross Catholic Church in Surrey, figured out that somebody was bowing in a shed on church residential property. Among the identified a secret guy brushing up the parking area.

Hitchen found that Petrie had actually been repeling burglars and also maintaining the premises tidy, so he began providing him chores to do for money.

He was so satisfied with Petrie’s job principles, Hitchen asked church management if they would certainly spruce up an old residence on the residential property for Petrie to reside in.

” Your house was considered unliveable, there were mould concerns and also it had not been mosting likely to take place,” Hitchen stated. “We began asking, what various other type of option can we think of for Gordon?”

In very early July, Hitchen visited Petrie at the shed to go over real estate alternatives and also saw him talking with a female he really did not identify.

” Both of them were virtually in rips,” Hitchen stated. “Gordon resembled, ‘Bruce, you will not think that is below. This is my sibling.'”

Petrie makes use of a grass leaner on the church premises in October. ( Ben Nelms/CBC)


Petrie and also Zemlak matured with each other in Royal prince George, B.C., however he entrusted to his mommy to reside in the Lower Landmass when he was a young adult. Zemlak remained behind with household in the north city and also continued to be there her entire life.

Petrie would certainly return sometimes for unique household occasions, however he shed touch with his sibling when he faced issues with dependency.

Zemlak obtained an excellent work, wed and also had youngsters, however as she was developing an effective life for herself, she constantly questioned what occurred to her bro.

” I began to search for him down on East Hastings [in Vancouver] however I never ever discovered him,” Zemlak stated. “I might have strolled by him and also I would certainly have never ever understood that he was.”

After that, eventually in the summer season, Zemlak obtained a sms message that transformed her life.

A close friend sent her an information write-up concerning Petrie’s link to Ukrainian Holy Cross Catholic Church, which motivated her to make a solo trip from her residence in Royal prince George to Petrie’s shed in Surrey.

When she showed up, they traded hellos, and also like any kind of bro and also sibling that like each various other, words that complied with came quickly.

Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church head of state Bruce Hitchen is still searching for long-term real estate for Petrie. ( Ben Nelms/CBC)

” It resembled we had actually never ever been apart, when we were speaking,” Zemlak stated. “It had not been uneasy.”

Clean slate

An outreach employee discovered Petrie a resort space the district is renting for social real estate functions throughout the pandemic.

It’s not a long-term option, however Petrie obtains 2 dishes a day, a shower and also does not need to fret about any person swiping his items.

When Zemlak went back to see momentarily time, she filled up Petrie’s cabinets with grocery stores and also commemorated his 51 st birthday celebration by feeding him as much gelato as he might consume– which was a great deal.

” It was simply incredible and also I really felt happy,” Petrie stated. “I was approaching individuals I do not offer a [care] concerning and also resembled, ‘Hey! This is my sibling!'”

As difficult as it was for Zemlak to see the toll years of surviving on the road had actually handled her bro, she appreciated that he never ever shed the features she appreciates most around him, including his empathy.

” He was available feeding the raccoons, and afterwards he would certainly anger at the crows since they were consuming the food,” she stated. “He’s acquiring food for pets when he can not get food for himself.”

Petrie in the cemetery lost where he was living throughout the summer season. ( Ben Nelms/CBC)

Following actions

Hitchen and also Zemlak talk typically, going over long-term real estate services and also what various other assistance is readily available for Petrie, that still does work around the church.

The revived brother-sister partnership is made complex by range and also condition, however Petrie and also Zemlak are dedicated to remaining in touch.

” I will certainly constantly remain in his edge and also I will certainly constantly get on the various other end of the phone,” she stated. “He’s my bro.”

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