Saskatchewan

'It was life changing': What it's like going homeless for 36 hours

Kurt Dahl participated in the Sanctum Survivor fundraiser where he went homeless for 36 hours

Kurt Dahl, drummer for One Bad Son, took part in the Sanctum Survivor fundraiser this past weekend

Kurt Dahl was one of the participants with the Sanctum Challenge where he was homeless for 36 hours. He was assigned to sleep in Kinsmen Park. (Kurt Dahl/Facebook)

Kurt Dahl is used to playing in front of thousands of fans, but this past weekend he learned what it's like to feel invisible.

Dahl, the drummer for Saskatoon band One Bad Son, was one of nine participants for Sanctum Survivor, a city-wide fundraiser in Saskatoon.

Participants go homeless for 36 hours, with donated clothes and shoes, and are given different scenarios by people who have experienced homelessness in the past.

"It was just really quite profound," he said. "The whole experience is very powerful." 

After the Sanctum Survivor Challenge, Kurt Dahl shared a photograph showing 36 hours on the street contrasted with 36 hours after being home with family. (Kurt Dahl/Facebook)

Dahl's scenario was that he had to live as if he had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He had to carry an oxygen tank with him and breathe through a straw for several hours while also sleeping in Kinsmen Park. 

"I don't say this lightly, it was life changing," he said. "I feel like I look at Saskatoon differently. I feel like I have a greater understanding of what these people go through." 

After finding donated clothes, Kurt Dahl had shoes that resulted in many blisters and a Packers sweater. He was assigned to carry around an oxygen tank to experience what it would be like if he had a lung disease. (Kurt Dahl/Facebook)

Dahl said he and the other participants had it easy, knowing they could go home after 36 hours, but that it was a glimpse into the reality of others. The homeless community quickly took him in, Dahl said. 

"They're some of the most resilient, amazing people that I've met and what they go through, we have no idea."

He was immediately treated differently by people walking by, he said. 

"People either ignored me completely or they were just completely rude," he said.

He said some people would cross the street just to avoid interacting with him.

"There wasn't a lot of sympathy."

After returning home after the Sanctum Challenge, Kurt Dahl shared a photograph of being reunited with his family. On social media he shared words of wisdom from a homeless man he met: "Stay humble because we’re all the same.” (Kurt Dahl/Facebook)

Dahl and the others had to panhandle to make enough money to buy something to eat. He said most people were disgusted by them panhandling and maybe two people gave them money. When one man walked up to donate, it was a moment Dahl wouldn't forget. 

"He had nothing," Dahl said. "If he wasn't homeless he was not far above that. And he gave us the two dollars he had in his pocket and it's one of those moments I'll never forget in my life."

Dahl and the other participants raised close to $200,000 for the Sanctum Care group.

"They're the ones that are the real heroes, along with the people that are actually homeless," Dahl said. "They're working on the frontlines, working with the most vulnerable in our population." 

With files from the Afternoon Edition

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