‘Very kind and very loving:’ Family remembers 26-year-old who died in Topaz Park homeless camp

'Very kind and very loving:' Family remembers 26-year-old who died in Topaz Park homeless camp

Family and friends gathered at a vigil at Topaz Park Wednesday to mourn the loss of 26-year-old Thomas Poulsen. Poulsen was one of two men found dead at the homeless camp last week. His family believes he had actually been laying dead for 12 days in the tent where he was eventually found.

“Thomas suffered with an addiction and everyone was hoping one day things would change for him, and he’ll be greatly missed,” said Poulsen’s uncle Brian Poulsen.

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Poulsen’s mother Maureen Vincent says her son grew up in a loving, hard-working family, and took part in all of the usual extra-curricular activities like baseball, hockey, music lessons and summer camps. She says what he had was a disease.

“There is so much stigma around addiction and mental illness, and so much ignorance. Thomas did not grow up neglected or abused, which is the assumption. He was ill. He had a disease. A disease so powerful that it eventually overtook him,” Vincent said in a statement.

“Thomas was a very kind and very loving young man and he would help anyone out if he could,” said his uncle Brian.

At the vigil Wednesday Poulsen’s friends from the camp planted a tree at the park in his honour.

“He was one of the first campers here and I know how much his family loved him, they just loved him so much, we got him a tent here and we were just about to get him a motel room, and this happened on Good Friday so it’s a sad happening,” said Rev. Allen Tysick, executive director of the Dandelion Society.

Tysick says Poulsen’s death is just another tragic reminder of the need for better housing and more treatment centres and perhaps most importantly, that the people who live and die in tent cities are real people who are loved.

“When you see a tent city and you make judgements I want us all to remember they could be your daughter your son they could be ourselves, so be kind to one another, that’s what I ask, be kind to one another,” Tysick said.


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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