'Stop being selfish': Veteran walking across Canada hosts huge, free community dinner in Winnipeg

'Stop being selfish': Veteran walking across Canada hosts huge, free community dinner in Winnipeg

Trevor Sanderson has 15 hams, 150 boxes of stuffing and 200 pounds of potatoes, and he's giving it all away for free at a massive community dinner at Winnipeg's Thunderbird House Saturday night.

"It's just about bringing everybody together," the former Winnipegger said. He's expecting more than 300 people to attend.

Sanderson, a military veteran, is in town for the holidays on what was supposed to be a "rest stop" in his mission to walk across Canada. He wants to help low-income, homeless and vulnerable people — including other veterans — throughout the country, volunteering and connecting people with services as he goes.

He's documenting his journey on his Facebook page, Canadians joining Canadians.

The 47-year-old started in Sydney, N.S., six months ago, and has walked more than 3,400 kilometres since then. He's passed through more than a dozen Canadian cities, sleeping on the streets or under bridges and helping the homeless people he meets along the way.

"If I walked across Canada, nobody would ever know what I was doing … I'd be in a town, I'd be gone, nobody would care," he said. "But if I stop and actually try to make a difference in every town that I make — well, then it'll have more of an impact. And that's exactly what it's having."

Sanderson said he was inspired to make the journey after he hit hard times in Sydney, where he was living before he set out. He was previously part of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry from 1990 to 1993 and worked on an Alberta oil field before ending up in the Maritime community.

On his journey, he's built wheelchair ramps, organized community barbecues and cleanups and volunteered with a homeless shelter. He's lost 40 pounds since he set out.

'Stop being selfish'

His last stop was in Toronto before he flew to Winnipeg to rest and see his parents over the holidays, but he wanted to organize a winter solstice dinner for the community.

He paid out of his own pocket for some of the food, and gathered donations of turkey, laptops and a TV to give out as door prizes.

He also slept on the street at Higgins Avenue and Main Street for several nights since arriving, alongside a handful of homeless Winnipeggers who offered to spend the nights with him.

"They're willing to put themselves out there — why wouldn't I be willing to show my support to them?" he said. "They're showing their support to me by challenging me to stay out there."

On Jan. 15, he's going to pick up where he left off in Toronto and continue his walk. He wants to help vulnerable people find the services that can help them, and unite service providers to make them stronger.

When he's done, he wants to present his story to the Canadian government to call for action to improve social services.

"What I want people to know is, stop being selfish. If you know somebody's in trouble, help them," Sanderson said.

"It don't take much — sometimes just a pat on the back saying, 'Hey man, it's going to be OK.' You know, you can change somebody's life by doing that."

His dinner starts at 5 p.m. Saturday and ends at 8 p.m. at Thunderbird House, 715 Main St., in Winnipeg.