Eli was a rambunctious kid. He was quick, crazed and energized. His father taught him how to skateboard at the age of three and by the age of six, he was already dropping into bowls at the skatepark and landing kickflips.
Eli had blonde hair and a smile that seared; it was one of the characteristics his father and others always loved about Eli—he was always smiling.
Like many children, Eli sought freedom and exploration and in the three months before he was fatally stabbed in downtown Kelowna, his youthful aching to wander showed parallels with his father’s.
“His whole life, everybody that has ever known him has said, ‘That’s your little mini-me right there,’” said Robyn-lain Beauregard, 37, father of the late 16-year-old.
As a kid growing up in Arthur, Ontario – a town with under 2,500 residents and a couple dozen streets – Beauregard wanted out. So at around age 15, he left town, dropped out of school and began hitchhiking to nearby cities in Ontario.
In the process, he had become homeless and stayed that way for about a year and a half until he was housed in Toronto around the age of 17. “I was bored, I was always at home, I wanted freedom.”
He met Eli’s mother-to-be in Toronto while they attended school together. When Beauregard was 18, Eli’s mother was pregnant and Beauregard recovered and transitioned into a father figure for young Eli.
A vagrant of sorts, Beauregard learnt a lot while he was street-ridden. It was something he wished Eli would learn from and not have to go through himself.
“We would come to Kelowna every now and then and I would tell him that we were just sight-seeing and as we were going, I’d see things that I hoped he would never be involved with,” he said. “And I made sure he knew.”
But his father’s subtle lessons and stories wasn’t enough for Eli. After all, he was Beauregard’s “mini-me”.
Eli moved into his mother’s house in Kelowna just before Christmas 2018 after an extended trip east-bound from Calgary with his father. However, it was transient and served more as reverse transitional housing, landing Eli on the street through self-autonomy rather than latent parenting.
“He started disappearing a little bit more every day, then he started not coming home at night,” Beauregard called.
Both mother and father both reached out to Eli and spoke quite often. As Beauregard explained, Eli was free to roam where he pleased. If he wanted to stay with his mother, he could. If he wanted to stay with his father, great. If he wanted to wander, so be it. But he found a sense of home on the street.
“There’s a reason why somebody would choose the street over a perfectly good home,” said Beauregard. “For my son it was following rules at home, going to school, having to get up every day at a certain time … that just wasn’t my kid. He was never, ever cool with that.”
From the time when Eli first went to school, he was different. Beauregard said that he couldn’t make friends or didn’t want to make friends. And when he lived on the street for the three-odd months preceded his death, he made more friends than he might’ve had throughout his whole childhood.
“That might’ve been the original draw to downtown, was that, ‘I get to go and hang out with my friends that I actually want to hang out with,’” said Beauregard.
The group of strangers that Eli morphed into his circle reminded Beauregard of the people that helped him through his days on the street as a youth as well. From friends to shelters and food banks, Eli was known and cared for.
“When I was in that lifestyle I had a lot of people that helped me,” he said.”I learnt that there was a lot of people doing that for Eli.”
A child who subconsciously had a knack for rebellion, an anomaly separated from the bulk; for Eli, it was less about being retrogressive but rather of fulfilling a part of his life in which he felt must be, according to his father. He was depicted as a stand-alone figure with blonde hair and a smile that seers.
“He was a handful right from the get-go and that’s just who he was.”
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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