New Fire

From homeless to hope: one woman's long journey home

On the streets of Toronto with nothing but a garbage bag full of clothes, Ashley Richard had to fight her way back to Winnipeg.
Ashley Richard, receiving an Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award for her work at home in Winnipeg.

At 24 years old, Ashley Richard is a young woman who has struggled to picture exactly what home means to her. Her family hails from Winnipeg, where they have deep roots.

Ashley's grandmother is Mary Richard, who was a respected leader in the city's Aboriginal community. She and her granddaughter shared a special bond. 
Mary Richard was a well-known leader in Winnipeg's aboriginal community.

But when Ashley and her mother left the prairies for Toronto, home didn't come easily to them. Fighting often and intensely, Ashley left and moved in with a boyfriend... and things got darker from there. Facing emotional and psychological abuse, she ended the relationship and moved out. 

She spent months in shelters and sleeping on the couches of friends, feeling lost and confused. That's when she got the call: her grandmother, Mary, was dying, and Ashley had to fly back to the city - and home - she had left behind. 

The last time I felt like I was at home was when my grandmother was alive. Wherever she was felt like home.- Ashley Richard

Today, Ashley is a student at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba - and has become a dedicated community advocate and president of the Association of Aboriginal Commerce Students.

So how did she find her way back? Click the 'listen' button above.