“By whatever cruel twist of fate, Lawrence, 62, was a homeless man. He came to Berwick six months ago causing a stir in a small town unused to the sight of a man living on the streets. With colder nights approaching, Lawrence moved into the Kings Transit bus shelter on Commercial Street, where he huddled in a corner with his red sleeping bag and blanket each night. He died early Wednesday morning in a fire police are calling suspicious. No suspects have been arrested, but police have not ruled out foul play. Andrew, founder of Inn from the Cold, which provides shelter for homeless people in the Annapolis Valley, spent time with Lawrence's family, four brothers, four sisters and two half-siblings on Friday. “They are devastated. They've lived for 30 or 40 years fearing when this day would come.”
(An Excerpt from the Halifax newspaper, Chronicle Herald, Oct. 24, 2013)
May God grant Harley eternal rest and PEACE,
as he did not have that in this cruel world.
Then our eyes fell upon a blue tarped off area around the bus shelter. Harley's sleeping terminal where his life terminated. He possessed a sleeping bag and blanket which was wrapped up in a blue plastic garbage bag. As Harley's story became more apparent as to how he died and why, I asked WHY?? That day and the memory are forever etched in our minds. We learned of Harley's unfortunate death via speaking with the town folks.
Back in the early 80's the Nova Scotia Hospital released over 80% of its patients to save money. The news media reported that many of those would be living on the 4th Floor of the Dartmouth General Hospital. That never happened. It is still unoccupied due to lack of funds to staff that floor.
I have yet to read Harley's obituary? I am sure he at least will have that honor? Are the homeless, victims of their own circumstances; have they fallen on hard times, are they all drug addicts, mentally disturbed or just the cast-a-ways of society? We need to take a second look at ourselves and how we perceive the homeless. Dialogue, education and LOVE may be a good place to start. As OFS members what can we do as a group or individually to change homelessness? This would include children and families who are living on the street or in shelters.
Will I ever walk by a homeless person again without giving something, like “Hello, how are you?” Or what is your name and God Bless You, here is some loose change. I think NOT. As we sit in the warmth and comfort of our home, I think of all the homeless, especially Harley, who do not enjoy the same privileges.
MAY GOD BLESS THEM ALL!
In conclusion, Daniel Surette, 27 and Kyle David Fredericks, 26 admitted to killing the homeless man Harley Lawrence by setting him on fire with gasoline on that fatal day, as he slept in the bus shelter in Berwick in the wee hours of the morning. They were sentenced in the Supreme Court of N.S., Kentville in April 2014. Surette would not be eligible for parole for 20 years while Fredericks will be eligible for parole in 18 years.