Krista Murrins grew up in a neighbourhood with a strong sense of community. There were parks, afterschool recreation groups, and literacy programs aimed at making her central-St. John’s neighbourhood a happy and healthy place to live.
As a young child, Murrins’ didn’t know a lot about life outside “The Circle,” but people believed they knew a lot about life inside the small circumference of Buckmaster’s Circle that housed close to 700 people – many living in poverty. It wasn’t long before Murrins learned that her home hood was better known for violent assaults, drug busts, and robberies than the things she, an actual resident, knew it for.
Buckmaster’s Circle is one of the oldest public housing communities in the province and is known to be one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city. Its (often unfounded) reputation of being a criminal hub has created barriers for young people like Murrins who grew up in the circle.
Murrins says she felt ashamed to live in Buckmaster’s Circle, because of its reputation, and she worried it would hold her back in life. “I didn’t want to tell anyone where I lived. I would just tell them I lived next to St. Clare’s Hospital. When applying for jobs when I was younger, I would use my aunt’s address because I didn’t want anyone to know.”
Murrins says she was determined to break out of the circle but, overcoming the stigma associated with her neighbourhood wasn’t easy. “I have learned that if you want to have success and happiness in your life, you have to rise above your own feelings of inadequacy and strive to do your best at all times.” With the help of the Fry Family Foundation scholarship, she was able to earn a college diploma, get a job and get out of public housing.
The Fry Family Foundation scholarship helps kids touched by poverty get an education. It’s donated more than $370,000 for young people who live in Buckmaster’s Circle, Rabbittown, Froude Ave, MacMorran and Virginia Park. Murrins says she was determined to go to school with or without help but, she says this scholarship took away some of the financial pressure.
Murrins says the scholarship means a lot for other young people in her neighbourhood who may not qualify for loans or be able to take on the financial burden of post-secondary education. This year, the scholarship will help sixteen young people from such neighbourhoods get an education.
Today, Buckmaster’s circle is a different place than it was a few decades ago. Crime rates are down and there’s a great sense of pride in the community but, the reputation lingers. “Not everyone who lives there are bad people,” Murrins said. “Some people are there because they need the help, may it be for medical reasons or how they grew up, some of the new families that are living there now are from other countries and trying to get up on their feet.”
Murrins says growing up, it was important for her to get out of Buckmaster’s Circle but, she doesn’t forget where she comes from and it’s a big part of who she is today. Because of the vibrant and supportive community, she was able to create a better life for herself.