I thought i would share a story from back in 2013 about the founder of our Missing People of Canada facebook page ….
Brian is 50. He is short, a bit squat and stutters slightly when he is nervous. When he was younger, he and his father took part in search and rescue operations, and it was during a rescue that Brian fell and suffered a brain injury.
He lost a significant part of his brain, he said: it was about the size of a golf ball. He was in a coma for three years, and seven years in recovery. He had to learn how to read and write again.
In time, he recovered enough to get a job driving truck for a roofing company. His injury had taken its toll, though, and he developed arthritis and a bad back hauling bundles of tile. He went on disability.
His disability payment came to just under $1,000 a month. Rent took most of it. In one New Westminster apartment, the new landlord raised the rent to $700 from $595, and to eat, Brian started to frequent soup kitchens and food banks. He moved to an apartment in Surrey, only to find out that the affordable apartment the landlord had promised was a garage. The city shut it down. He moved back to New Westminster and found a basement suite for $600. It was under a staircase.
In 2010, after hearing about a new subsidized apartment building being opened in New Westminster for the disabled and those at risk of homelessness, Brian applied to be a resident. It was to be run by the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which operates shelters and residences for the homeless around Metro Vancouver. Membership was restricted to persons living in New Westminster, and Brian was accepted. He moved into his small one-bedroom apartment in 2011. It is basic, but neat and clean. The rent is $391. The price includes cable and BC Hydro.
“He was our first resident, in fact,” said Matthew Pullar, the building’s tenant support worker. “He was very private at first and he kept to himself a lot. But he found his purpose here because all the things that had preoccupied his time before were taken care of here.”
That purpose hearkened back to Brian’s days with his father in search and rescue. He would help find the missing and lost once again, but this time he would do it on the Internet.
“Ever since I did search and rescue with my dad, it’s kind of in the blood, finding missing people.”
So just over a year ago – “On Dec. 26, 2011,” Brian said — he started the Missing People of Canada Facebook page. He began posting police missing person reports, Amber Alerts and some Crime Stopper bulletins involving pedophiles. (The site can be found at www.facebook.com/MissingPeopleCanada. It was because of the criminal nature of some of those postings, Brian said, that he asked that his last name and address not be used.)
He spends 12 to 16 hours a day tending the site, he said, using a bank of used monitors and keyboards that were either donated or he found at thrift stores. As of Thursday afternoon, he had 500 missing persons reports on his site. People regularly write in with tips or questions about missing people whose profiles he has posted.
“Right now, there are over 7,000 missing people in Canada, most of them cold case files. The largest group of those missing would be aboriginal women, and most of those are from B.C.”
Brian may have scored a coup in mid-November after being the first operator of a missing persons site to post an Amber Alert for a three-year-old boy who was allegedly kidnapped by his father in southeastern B.C. and taken across the border into Montana. The Montana man who would eventually alert police that he had seen the father and boy — and which would lead to the father’s arrest and the boy’s return to B.C. — told media that he had first seen the Amber Alert on Facebook. The next day, Brian found several congratulatory notes posted on the site.
His work has paid off with a huge response. In one year, it has attracted 22,290 followers, a number that includes police forces and media. He has followers in 20 countries. He has helped look for hundreds and hundreds of the missing, and succeeded in finding himself.