Library to point out documentary that shines mild on Ottawa rooming homes

Bob Jamison, center, the central character in Blue Roses, poses for a photograph with filmmakers Danielle Rolfe and Ed Kucerak.

Tony Caldwell / Postmedia

“There’s no such factor as palliative care in our neighbourhood. What we see are people who find themselves sick, who’re struggling, after which they die,” Robert Jamison says, choking again tears as he speaks. “Loads of people don’t actually need palliative care. As a result of loss of life’s form of welcomed after you’ve suffered so a few years in poverty, so a few years as a persistent substance, so a few years out right here on the road.”


Jamison is a peer help employee with Ottawa Interior Metropolis Well being and he’s talking at a workshop on end-of-life look after the “precariously housed” — the unknown quantity of people that dwell in tons of of Ottawa’s licensed and unlicensed rooming homes. It’s one of many many highly effective, unvarnished moments within the documentary Blue Roses, which follows Jamison — or “Bobby J,” as he’s identified to many on the road — and different peer help and well being professionals with Ottawa Interior Metropolis Well being as they make the rounds of tons of of rooming homes that function the final stops earlier than utter homelessness.

The documentary shall be proven at a particular screening subsequent Saturday, Dec. 7, on the important department of the Ottawa Public Library. It’s an encore presentation co-hosted by Ottawa Interior Metropolis Well being, which sponsored the movie, and Compassionate Ottawa, a volunteer group that goals to enhance high quality of life for the frail aged and people going through life-threatening diseases. A screening of Blue Roses final spring on the Mayfair theatre shortly bought out.

“I’ve heard from so many individuals who stated they weren’t capable of get in, so I’m glad that we’re going to have one other probabilities to point out it,” stated Compassionate Ottawa’s chairman, Jim Nininger. “It’s one thing we don’t have a tendency to consider. It’s an necessary contribution to serving to us perceive these people who find themselves marginalized. It tells that stunning story of Bob, the social connector who would go to individuals and discuss to them and brings everybody collectively.”


Within the movie’s opening scene, Jamison gathers mates collectively in an Ottawa park at a memorial service for a lady named Krystal, who died alone and with out household.

“That is what we’re making an attempt to do at Compassionate Ottawa,” Nininger stated. “To have neighbours serving to their neighbours who’re coping with dying and loss and grief. We’ve abdicated that to the medical aspect and we have to reclaim that.”

Filmmakers Danielle Rolfe and Ed Kucerak say they knew little about Ottawa’s rooming homes earlier than they started work on the documentary within the spring of 2018.


“By way of problems with poverty and entry to healthcare, that I knew about,” stated Rolfe, who labored as a well being researcher earlier than changing into a filmmaker. “However seeing it first hand? I’d by no means walked right into a rooming home. Bob needed to put together us for a few of the stuff we’d encounter: bedbugs, the violence … It was life-changing for me. You’ll be able to’t return to your previous methods of considering after seeing what I noticed.”

“I’m nonetheless making an attempt to get better from the expertise,” Kucerak added. “A few of the issues we noticed. A few of the issues we heard. Each time I see that film, I see one thing that brings again one other reminiscence. While you consider Ottawa, you consider a capital, the ability of the federal authorities, stunning parks, the fantastic, historic canal, all of the inexperienced area … however we overlook about this inhabitants, that it’s not all this magical, stunning metropolis.”


For 5 months within the spring and summer time of 2018, the filmmakers adopted Jamison and different nurses and outreach employees from Ottawa Interior Metropolis Well being on their rounds of Ottawa’s rooming homes, checking on the well-being of people that dwell in such making an attempt circumstances that even minor an infection a or a damaged leg may be deadly. Many battle with psychological sickness and habit on high of crushing poverty. For Jamison, the work is a form of remedy, a approach to assist others after having been helped himself.

“If somebody is in disaster, in the event that they’re having a breakdown, it’s quite a bit simpler to assist them if you already know their title already,” says Bob Jamison, an outreach employee with Ottawa Interior Metropolis Well being.

Tony Caldwell /



Deserted by his mother and father as a toddler, Jamison grew up in dozens of foster properties and was finally despatched to the infamous St. Joseph’s Coaching College in Alfred, Ont. He lived on the streets, rode with a bike membership and spent “30 or 40” years as a drug consumer. He lastly kicked medicine when he was despatched into therapy as a part of a court-ordered diversion program.

“In therapy they form of break you down,” he stated. “They sort out previous traumas and break you down till you’re fairly uncooked.”


After therapy, Jamison discovered himself drug-free for the primary time in many years and searching on the similar streets the place he’d grown up.

“I used to be uncooked as uncooked might be, and other people had been dying throughout me. For me, it was so emotional. All the pieces I skilled so intensely. I simply began doing what I may. It was virtually working in triage. What I discovered actually shortly is that it wasn’t all of the stuff happening. For most people it was their loneliness. That’s what began it for me. Serving to with the little issues. Serving to individuals with their isolation.”

Jamison road expertise helps him attain individuals who may not in any other case reply to social employees or well being care suppliers. Peer help, first as a volunteer with Interior Metropolis Well being and now as a workers member, was a pure match.


“For me, somebody who’d give up substances and was coated in tattoos, it wasn’t like I used to be going to exit and discover an important job,” he stated, wryly. “To remain off dope, I needed to exit and get engaged and linked. I noticed the advantage of peer engagement. If somebody is in disaster, in the event that they’re having a breakdown, it’s quite a bit simpler to assist them if you already know their title already.”

Blue Roses screens within the auditorium of the Ottawa Public Library Fundamental Department at 120 Metcalfe St. on Dec. 7 at 1:30 p.m. These with library playing cards are requested to register on-line at, though you’ll be able to nonetheless attend even should you don’t have a library card. Doorways will open at 1 p.m.

The movie shall be adopted by a panel dialogue moderated by Wendy Muckle, government director of Ottawa Interior Metropolis Well being.