A resident of the tent encampment in Strathcona Park in Vancouver who was attacked while he was sleeping is now speaking out.
Adam Blackburn said he was asleep in his tent earlier this month when he woke up to people attacking him.
“I was just inside my tent and I think it was about four people, if memory serves, and it was dark so I couldn’t see who it was, I could just hear their voices,” Blackburn said.
“I was doing what I can to fend for myself but I was outmatched. They were heavily armed with knives and semi-automatic weapons, BB guns, stuff like that.”
Blackburn said he has wounds on his face from the BB gun pellets striking him.
He managed to crawl out of his tent and was found about eight hours later at the corner of Raymur Avenue and Venables Street wrapped in a blood-soaked towel.
He said he was injured all over and had to get about 15 staples in his head, two surgeries on his foot, and one on his arm to reattach tendons and nerves.
“I’ve had about 90 stitches and staples,” he added.
Blackburn was taken to hospital but has since been released and still doesn’t know who attacked him.
“From what I understand, they made up some story, they wanted my things,” he said, adding he has lost all of his belongings.
He is concerned about what he calls the politics of the camp and is worried those running the camp do not always have the group’s best intentions at heart.
He stayed at the park because it was a place he could leave his stuff every day and he didn’t have to pack up and move and find a new place to sleep every night.
“It seems it’s more about them individually (the self-imposed leaders of the camp) than about those of us who actually need help,” he said.
There have been countless clashes over the past few months between homeowners in the area and campers, with many homeowners saying they have been yelled at and threatened, and no longer feel safe.
On Sept. 23, a man was found in critical condition following what police called a serious assault in the park.
A witness told them the man had been lying there for “some time” before paramedics were called.
The man could have been lying there for up to 12 hours before anyone dialed 911, police said.
For Blackburn, life, since he has been released from the hospital, is looking very different these days.
“I have never really panhandled a day before in my life but with these injuries, the past couple of days I’ve had to,” he said.
“I have zero. I was naked the day I was born when I came out of the hospital. I had a gown. That was it.”
Blackburn said he has been told he will be in recovery for at least a year and he won’t be able to work. He will likely need more surgery.
“I don’t know exactly what the motivation was but I do know there was no grounds for it. To attack me in the middle of my sleep, that definitely let me know my best interests were never in their focus,” he added.
He does not know who attacked him.
Blackburn wants to get back on his feet and wants to find his own place and move on.
He is currently staying in a shelter but said it is not adequate for his health care needs. He still has not had a bath or cleaned his wounds since he got out of the hospital and he is currently trying to navigate the streets in a wheelchair.
In a statement from Municipal Affairs and Housing, they said outreach teams are working with community agencies daily to support people living outside, including those at Strathcona Park, and provide referrals to housing when vacancies become available.
They did not however comment specifically on Blackburn’s case.
A GoFundMe has now been set up to help Blackburn get back on his feet.
“There are people that need help. Hopefully, I can get in contact with a proper lawyer and effect some real change,” he said.