32-year-old Airdronian Kris Bucyk sports a tye-dye shirt. His vivacious demeanour along with the slightly unkept beard make it seem like he could be a surf instructor. But Bucyk's story is not one of a carefree life. He is homeless. 

"It was the obvious reason - it was drugs and whatnot. [I've] been doing drugs and on and off since I was 16. I pretty much went from having everything and losing everything in less than six months," he said. "I burned all the bridges with family. Grandma isn't putting up with it or helping out anymore. It was time on the big boy pants and figure it out myself."

And while the story of a teenage boy who began to experiment with methamphetamines after being introduced to them by someone older, may seem all too familiar, Bucyk's story starts when he was a toddler.

When he was four years old, Bucyk would be faced with a trauma that some adults have trouble coping with. By Bucyk's own admission, his dad, Jason Arthur Misurko, was on the road to recovery after struggling with substance use. 23-year-old Misurko went missing on September 17, 1995. His son said that his father was on his way to Fort McMurray to work.

Kris Bucyk's father, Jason Arthur Misurko has been missing since 1995. Bucyk was four years old when his father went missing. (Photo provided by Government of Canada/ Missing Persons)Kris Bucyk's father, Jason Arthur Misurko has been missing since 1995. Bucyk was four years old when his father went missing. (Photo provided by Government of Canada/ Missing Persons)

According to Airdrie RCMP, Misurko was last seen in Valleyview, Alberta, while his last family contact was in Fort McMurray. 

"The Airdrie RCMP General Investigation Unit is continuing to investigate,"  confirmed Cpl. James McConnell with the Airdrie RCMP's Community Policing Unit. 

"I guess right after it happened, I was probably asking, 'Where's Daddy?" I didn't know -  I was four years old."

At a young age, he recalls that he had issues with his mental health, and at one point he tried to commit suicide.

"Thank God grandma had quicker hands than I did. But how the heck does a four-year-old kid know how to even come up with to do that?" 

On his 16th birthday, he said he made the conscious decision to try drugs for the first time. From there, the addiction would progress.

In 2019 Statistics Canada found that between April 2019 and March 2020, across all provinces and territories (excluding Québec), there were 10,659 substance-related poisoning hospitalizations. Of those, approximately 6 per cent were among people experiencing homelessness on admission.

"Stimulants (e.g., methamphetamine) were also involved in a greater percentage of substance-related poisoning hospitalizations among people experiencing homelessness (29 per cent) than among people with housing (19 per cent)."

But even though Bucyk struggled with substance use, he managed to find work throughout his life on various construction projects. He was able to also find a house to rent.

But things didn't go his way and after a dispute with a previous landlord, he was evicted. While Bucyk attempted to get into an addiction rehabilitation program in Calgary, he said that after he was turned away from intake because it was a long weekend and the facility wasn't admitting anyone, he decided he would go at it on his own. The decision to come to Airdrie rather than stay in Calgary, came when he decided that the overt substance use made it all the more difficult to abstain from drugs.

"I'm not sitting on a mat for the next year stewing in my own thoughts and whatnot," Bucyk said defiantly.

And so he came to Airdrie. And not being one for sitting and wallowing in self-pity, he has been relentlessly looking for work. He managed to find odd jobs, but in a recent Facebook post, something he said was about swallowing his pride, he reached out to Airdronians asking for help in tracking down work.


"I've always worked even in [during] my drug addiction; it's just the way I grew up. if I wanted someone I had to go out and earn it. Basically, for me, I just can't sit around and do nothing," he said. "I'm not asking for a handout. I am just asking that if anybody needs anything done, I'll do it; just so I can save up some money."

He added that while many may think it odd for a homeless person to have a phone, he underlined, that in order to find work, one must have a phone - whether it's to be able to have a contact number or to be able to utilize online job boards and submit applications - which are almost exclusively online. 

Though his goal is lofty, Bucyk aims to be able to find work so that he can begin looking for something he has lost - a home. His more immediate goal is to be able to pay off fines which are prohibiting him from owning a vehicle - something that he said is essential as many job postings require a car, or alternatively is Calgary. 

For the time being Bucyk's domain, so to speak is in a tent in Airdrie's industrial area. 

"I've basically just made it through winter with no proper heat source, in a sense, but I grew up in Edmonton in a colder city, but I do have a generator finally."

And although the trauma of his father having gone missing can't be dismissed, he said that he is keenly aware it is his choice to be homeless and of his past choices as well. However, he says he has been sober for several months now. 

"[Homelessness] it depends if you want to be; it is and it isn't. If you want to get something done, you go to get it done," he replied. "You can't rely on everybody else to do it for you."

When it comes to his relationship with local law enforcement, Bucyk said that it's a tolerant relationship, but there is an understanding.

"As a homeless person, unless you're causing a problem or somebody calls it in, they won't even stop to come to say hello or ask why you're sleeping outside the building," he said. "I even fist-pumped one of them the other day. I never thought I would have ever been fist-pumping an RCMP officer... but I let him know about the generator that I finally bought with my first paycheck."

While Bucyk says that he makes use of the various social and community support programs in Airdrie, whether it's Community Links or the Food Bank, he said there isn't nearly enough support and that the reason Airdrie residents may not see homeless people in the city is that many of the resources are n Calgary.

"According to the government, they still think we're close enough Calgary, but when it's minus 50, we're okay with grabbing some random dog that we see in the middle of the road and bringing it into the house," Bucyk reflected. "We're supposed to be a modern civilized human civilization... but if you have nothing, you're just [seen as] an animal. It's mind-boggling." 

Perhaps one of the most telling things about how much his childhood trauma and the tragedy of losing and father and never having been able to receive closure, is the tattoo he sports on his forearm: Psalm 68:5. The Psalms contents read:

"Father to the fatherless."

Bucyk said that in the future, he would rectify the situation of the lack of resources for the homeless and vulnerable population in Airdrie.

"If I'm ever financially able to put one out here; I'm putting it out here."

According to a 2021 Administrative Count report by the Calgary Homeless Foundation, those who identified as aged 25-44 were among the largest age group experiencing homelessness; making up 40 per cent of those enumerated. Those identified as male were 71 per cent of those in the count. 

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