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Guardian angel inspires homeless man to keep others warm at night

Ernie McPherson

CBC Saskatchewan | Youtube

Cerith Gardiner - published on 03/08/23

After Ernest McPherson's life was saved when a "guardian angel" looked out for him, he decided to watch over others.

A 54-year-old homeless man from Saskatchewan stays awake at night to ensure other homeless people in his community survive the cold winter nights.

Ernest McPherson goes around the small town of Meadow Lake in the early hours to check up on two dozen fellow homeless people sleeping in cars or run-down buildings.

As Meadow Lake doesn’t have any shelters for the homeless, these vulnerable people have no where to warm up at night. So McPherson tries to help them out by giving them some warm clothes, or taking them to the lobby of an ATM, or to the local 7-Eleven to warm up a little.

“It’s like there’s nowhere in the world for them and nobody wants them,” McPherson shared with CBC, adding: “They’re really happy when they see me come along, and I’m really happy to find them [alive] because it doesn’t take long to freeze out here.”

The inspiration behind McPherson’s new-found role as watch guard came after he nearly froze to death in a –38°C snowstorm last year. “I lost direction and time … so I sat down for a minute, and thought I’d rest for a minute. I fell asleep. I had a guardian angel that night. She came and kicked me in the foot.”

Well, that kick is helping McPherson keep others alive. While last year he sought refuge in an abandoned hotel, along with other homeless, this year he has managed to raise $300 from his friends and has bought a truck camper.

However, he describes the camper as an “ice box” so he says “until there’s a shelter, I’ll be here, patrolling every night.”

The homeless in Meadow Lake do receive some help through the Meadow Lake Outreach Ministries — a non-profit Christian organization — but it’s only operational at certain times of the week, according to Natanis Bundschuh, the organization’s executive director and the manager of the local soup kitchen.

Bundschuh also shared how one homeless woman had recounted an experience to her where McPherson had stopped her from freezing to death, saying, “I would be dead if it was not for Ernie.”

An award from the late Queen Elizabeth II

Thanks to his efforts, McPherson received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for his public service, as shared by CBC. And Bundschuh pointed out, “It’s awesome to see someone in our community receiving an honor like that for going above and beyond, and caring for people that he doesn’t have to care about, but he does.”

And through his example, the community is responding to help those living on the streets. Businesses have donated money, and the Door of Hope has been opened by the The Meadow Outreach Ministries, giving 20-hour access to warmth at the drop in center each day.

For McPherson, the award is meaningful for the whole homeless population: “It’s a great honor to be recognized for everything that I’ve done to help the homeless in Meadow Lake. I’m just so happy to be here today, to speak for them, to be recognized.”

While McPherson continues to help those in need, his story reminds us of the importance of always looking for ways to help others, even if we’re faced with our own difficulties.

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