This is My City festival, an annual arts and music celebration notable for including homeless artists and performers, kicked off in Calgary last night. 

This is My City

This is My City festival features artists serving as mentors alongside agency staff to provide increased opportunities for homeless and at-risk individuals in art-making. (CBC)

This year's edition features a special focus on last year's devastating flood.

Perry Wilson has a voice shaped by a life on the streets, but the 50-year-old was able to share his passion for music on stage at one of the various festival venues around the city.

 "When I decided to give up my crack addiction I just woke up one day and said, you know, I think I can have a better life without it," he said.

Wilson is still without a home, but says the festival is making him a better musician and helping him make money from busking.

"I can tell you it can happen to anybody at any time. And there's a lot of people out there right now one paycheque away from being where I am," he said.

Organizers hope the festival is also giving audiences a better understanding of those who don't have a home in the city. 

Festival president Linda Hawk says homeless Calgarians taught her about resilience in the flood.

"I think the homeless kind of took it in stride," she said. "They don't have control over a lot of things in their lives, and this is one more thing, so perhaps they're more prepared than any of us to deal with that."