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13Jun

Vic PD to keep watch on Car Free YYJ event | CBC News

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People attending this weekend’s Car Free YYJ event will be under the watchful eye of Victoria police.

The department says it will be deploying temporary security cameras to make sure people are safe and the event is family-friendly.

Car Free YYJ is held on Father’s Day in the city’s downtown. Nine block are closed to vehicles to facilitate entertainment, food and art.

VicPD has previously used temporary surveillance cameras at other public events such as Symphony Splash.

It say the CCTV cameras will be monitored and publicly placed in accordance with both provincial and federal privacy laws.

Cameras not permanent

Residents can expect to see the cameras going up over the next couple of days, along with temporary signs to make people aware.

Police say the cameras will come down shortly after the Sunday event.

Car Free YYJ is Sunday, June 16 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. PT along Douglas Street.




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5Apr

Government supports access to free menstrual products for students, people in need

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Under a ministerial order that was issued Friday, April 5, 2019, all B.C. public schools will be required to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of 2019.

In issuing the order, Education Minister Rob Fleming said it’s time to normalize and equalize access to menstrual products in schools, helping to create a better learning environment for students.

“Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they can’t afford or don’t have access to menstrual products,” said Fleming, adding that current research indicates that one in seven students has missed school due to their periods because they cannot afford products.

“This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue. We look forward to working with school districts and communities to make sure students get the access they need with no stigma and no barriers.”

The ministerial order – which takes effect immediately but allows districts until the end of 2019 to comply – comes with $300,000 in provincial startup funding. Over the coming months, the ministry will continue to work with school districts, community and education partners to look at the needs of each district, identify gaps and ensure they have the funding needed to meet this new requirement.

In addition, government is also providing a one-time grant of $95,000 to support the United Way Period Promise Research Project, to fund menstrual products for up to 10 non-profit agencies and research into how best to provide services and products for people who menstruate.

“The cost and availability of menstrual products is a real concern for those who are poor and often face the choice of purchasing those products or buying other essentials, like food,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “I encourage other organizations to join our government in supporting the Period Promise campaign, to help end the stigma that causes social isolation, and begin to address that larger issue around affordability.”

“Having your period is a part of life, and easy and affordable access to menstrual products should be simple,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Menstrual products should be available to people when and where they need them, which is why we’re improving access in schools and in communities. These actions are going to make a big difference in the lives of people who menstruate, and I’m proud that our government is taking leadership on this issue.”

The United Way funding builds on the work government is doing to reduce poverty in British Columbia. In March 2019, the B.C. government released TogetherBC, the Province’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy. TogetherBC brings together investments from across government that will help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25%, and cut child poverty in half, over the next five years.

Quotes:

Glen Hansman, president, B.C. Teachers’ Federation –

“By ensuring school districts make menstrual products free and accessible to all students who need them, the government is taking an important action towards improving equity in our schools. There are many reasons why students need access to menstrual products at school. Many of our members can share stories of students who have felt shame or embarrassment, or have even gone home, because they did not have access to a tampon or pad or could not afford one. Today’s announcement will also help deal with what the United Way’s Period Promise campaign calls ‘period poverty.’ I want to thank the Minister of Education and this government, as well as those working on the United Way campaign, for making this announcement today.”

Mark Gifford, chair, New Westminster Schools Board of Education

“Our board is proud to have led the way in breaking down barriers and ensuring access to free menstrual products in all of our schools. It’s a basic gender-equity issue and our work helps ensure female and transgender students can manage normal bodily functions without stigma, cost, or disruptions to their learning. We are thrilled with the minister’s announcement today and applaud such swift action in support of advancing a fundamental right of access across the province.”

Andrea Sinclair, president, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils –

“This is a long-standing ‘hidden and unspoken’ problem for students who need menstrual products. There continues to be stigma surrounding this, which causes unnecessary anxiety and reduced confidence for students, including reduced attendance. We need to remove the barriers to access, eliminate the stigma and normalize the conversation for student well-being. We are encouraged by this action and fully support it. Today’s announcement is another example of the ministry listening and acting for the best interest of students.”

Michael McKnight, president and CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland

“The inspiring support United Way’s Period Promise campaign has received demonstrates the impact we create when we mobilize to address issues in our own neighbourhoods. I want to thank the Government of B.C. for its commitment to tackling period poverty, and thank the passionate individuals tackling vulnerability and isolation in all its forms, in our local communities.”

Sussanne Skidmore, secretary-treasurer, BC Federation of Labour, volunteer co-chair of United Way’s Period Promise campaign –

“The community and government response to the issue of period poverty has been incredible. The hundreds of thousands of donated menstrual products we’ve received will make a concrete difference in people’s lives, and with support from the Government of B.C., we can also create change on a wider scale, long-term.”

Learn More:

Participate in the United Way Period Promise campaign: https://www.uwlm.ca/

Read TogetherBC: B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: https://www.gov.bc.ca/TogetherBC 


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14Jan

Free transit for youths pitch to be made to Vancouver council

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Coun. Jean Swanson wants the City of Vancouver to support free transit for children and youths up to 18 years of age.

Council members will consider her motion Tuesday to draft a letter to regional officials in support of more equitable transit fares including a sliding scale for low-income residents.

Swanson said Monday that her No. 1 reason for supporting a campaign started by #AllOnBoard last year is to increase safety for youths and adults.

She said people can sometimes get stuck if they don’t have bus fare and have to walk home or take “rides with people they don’t know. That’s not safe.”

She also supports free transit to increase accessibility to the city’s amenities. She estimated it would cost a family of five in east Vancouver $20 bus fare to ride to beaches on the west side of the city.

“That’s ridiculous,” she said.

“It means a huge proportion of people in our city just can’t enjoy parts of the city that other people that have more money can enjoy.”

Swanson also believes that lower bus fares and improved transit service means fewer trips by car which will help reduce global warming.

Swanson said she’s had nothing but “positive feedback” about her motion.

Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson.


Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson.

Nick Procaylo /

PNG files

She doesn’t have any estimate on costs, she said, because this is a first step in figuring out how to create a more equitable transit system.

“It is to ask the regional bodies in control of this to come up with a plan and source of funding,” she said.

“Some of the technical details still have to be worked out.”

The #AllOnBoard campaign by the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition has already been endorsed by Port Moody and New Westminster.

Jill Drews, senior issues management advisor for TransLink, said the organization is working with government officials to explore what it might mean to bring in free fares for younger riders.

TransLink doesn’t know how many riders under 18 it has because it doesn’t track ridership by age, she said.

“What we have seen in other jurisdictions that have opened up fare free transit for youths, they’ve had a big increase in ridership,” Drews said.

Drews said the cost of introducing free fares for youths “would be in the tens of millions a year” but had no specific details on the amount.

“We’re doing some modelling and looking at how we can quantify that better,” she said.

‘We’re expecting the provincial government to step up and provide the financial support’ for a free transit plan for youth, says #AllOnBoard campaign coordinator Viveca Ellis.


‘We’re expecting the provincial government to step up and provide the financial support’ for a free transit plan for youth, says #AllOnBoard campaign coordinator Viveca Ellis.

Mike Bell /

PNG

Viveca Ellis, who is coordinating the #AllOnBoard campaign, said transit should have much more public funding so access is as equitable as health care and education.

“Given our provincial commitment to reducing poverty, we need the mayors’ council and Metro Vancouver to discover the impact of mobility and lack of affordability on all citizens,” said Ellis, leadership development coordinator for the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition.

“We’re expecting the provincial government to step up and provide the financial support to make it happen to implement these necessary measures.”

In Metro Vancouver, a maximum of four children under five can ride on TransLink for free when accompanied by a passenger with proof of payment; children aged five to 18 pay $1.90 concession or $1.85 with a Compass Card in one zone.

Last year, Seattle city council voted to spend $7 million ($9.1 million Cdn.) to provide free bus service to 16,000 high school students. Seattle is now the largest city in the U.S. to provide free, year-round transit for high school students.

In Toronto, students 12 and under ride for free.

Calgary Transit addresses poverty in its sliding-scale fares based on income. A low-income monthly pass ranges from $5.30 for a single person household earning $12,699 or less to $53 a month for a household of seven people earning $56,997 to $67,055.

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19Dec

Pushing for greener policies? Then give up free parking passes, Victoria city councillor urges colleagues

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Victoria city councillors need to put their green policy talk into practice and give up their free city parking passes, says Coun. Jeff Young.

Young is proposing changes to the parking privileges currently offered to Capital Regional District representatives, arguing that actions speak louder than words.  

“I’ve just been getting a little tired of what seems to me to be slightly sanctimonious or even hypocritical motions by the council, for example, decrying investment in fossil fuel firms,”  Young said.

“We do use automobiles. We need fuel, and for us to say we want to blame the fossil fuel companies for producing fuels seems seems a little odd.”

He pointed to the push to reduce emissions and resistance to projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and number of tankers in B.C. waters as examples of simply talking the talk.

“If we are going to keep making these pronouncements, we should look look at to our own home first,” Young told Gregor Craigie, the host of CBC’s On The Island.

“When we say we don’t want to invest funds in fossil fuel companies, are we really saying we want them to stop producing gasoline?”

Not everyone can cycle to work, argues Coun.Charlayne Thornton-Joe. Others have proposed offering bus passes or other remuneration if the parking passes are removed. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Concerns about accessibility

Young occasionally drives to work, himself, rather than cycling, he admits, and knows first-hand that having free parking at work is an incentive to hop in the car.

But not all members of council are able to cycle to work, countered Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe. Some may have health issues or drop children off at school along the way or have meetings in several different locations around the city.

“As councillors, we need to walk the talk,” she agreed. “But one of the things we have to make sure of is that … council is accessible to all.”

The parking permits are also part of a larger remuneration package for staff, which is why some councillors have proposed changing the parking passes for bus passes or higher wages instead, Thornton-Joe said.

She said she’s open to the idea but would need more information on how the changes would play out.

“Each and every one of us have different needs,” she said.

“[We need] a little bit more information on what does that entail.”

Council has requested a staff report on the financial implications of eliminating parking passes as part of a review of council remuneration

“I have no problem looking at the the reports,” she said.

“Councillor Young brings up larger issues of how councillors conduct themselves, the motions they bring forward and [whether they are] practicing that.”


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14Oct

A hereditary chief opens up about supplying his nation with free cannabis oil

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Hereditary chief Wil Marsden has made a name for himself in his community as the guy you see if you need access to cannabis oil.

He’s been providing it, free of charge, to people in Gitanyow, B.C., for the past six years — stocking fridges with a supply of syringes filled with the dark, molasses-like oil, instructing people on how to medicate themselves for a whole range of illnesses.

It’s deeply personal work for the young​ leader whose father died from prostate cancer in 2011. The day he died in a North Vancouver hospital bed also happened to be day he received his first dose of a synthetic cannabis medication. Marsden said his father had been asking the doctors for access to medicinal marijuana for years.

“He was totally shot down… They probably assumed that he just wanted free weed, I guess,” said Marsden.  

“I just want to make sure that nobody goes through what I did, having my father totally denied. And as a hereditary chief I have a responsibility to lead our people.”

Today Marsden has a spreadsheet to keep track of those in the village and surrounding area to whom he supplies oil. He said over the years the list has grown to dozens of people who have used the cannabis compound to successfully treat a range of health issues.

The medicine works pretty good’

Rocky Robinson at his home in Gitanyow, B.C. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Sitting on the couch in his split-level home in Gitanyow, Rocky Robinson pulls out his tablet and starts scrolling through photos. 

“That’s when I was really sick,” he pulls up a photo of himself from a couple years ago where he’s much thinner.

“I was sick about three years and then I started using that marijuana — I don’t know what you call that oil.”

Robinson, a former firefighter, had been trying to get answers from doctors about why he was losing so much weight and was barely able to eat.

He’d been to the nearby hospitals, had CT scans and other tests but said the doctors weren’t able to come up with a clear diagnosis. At the same time he kept withering away — spending most of his time in bed. Eventually he got to the point where he needed help getting to and from the washroom.

At 70, Robinson said he isn’t in perfect health. But he said not long after starting to take the oil he gained back the weight he lost. He jokes about how the doctors now tell him he’s overweight.

He said he told his doctors about his use of cannabis oil, but they didn’t show much interest.

But other people in the tight-knit northern village took notice, watching their neighbour transform back into the man they knew, crediting cannabis oil for his recovery.

‘It’s done wonders for some people’

“I didn’t think Rocky was going to turn around, I thought it was over for him,” said Jacqueline Smith, who also uses the cannabis oil supplied by Marsden to treat her fibromyalgia.

“When you saw what he looked like and just how thin he was… he looked like he was less than 100 pounds. You see him today, he’s just happy and jolly and back to the same old person. It’s just amazing what it’s done for him.”

Robinson pulls up a photo on his tablet from when he was much thinner due to an unexplained illness. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Smith said she started using the oil after her fibromyalgia worsened to the point that she was in constant, debilitating pain that made previously simple tasks like getting up and down the stairs a long and arduous process.

She said within weeks of taking the oil the pain was subsiding and she was moving around more. Less than two months later, she was back to her regular routine pre-illness.

She said not everyone in Gitanyow is convinced that using cannabis as a medicine is a good idea, “but it’s done wonders for some people I know of and even myself.”  

Smith said she still has some pain, but it’s manageable enough that she’s been able to go back to work. She’s also been able to get off all the prescribed pain medication she was on.

“I’m really thankful for that because I know another lady who has [fibromyalgia] in Hazleton and she’s constantly in the hospital… she’s in so much pain.”

A doctor’s words of caution 

Gitanyow is one of countless places around the world where people are sourcing a cannabis compound known as the Rick Simpson oil to treat various illnesses.

Simpson, a former Canadian engineer, is famous on the cannabis scene for providing instructions to people on how to make the oil he claims cured his basal cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer.

Anecdotal success stories from people who’ve used this oil are abundant online. But while stories of success are hard to ignore, doctors say there’s a danger in taking these stories and applying them to your own health concerns, especially if you have a disease that could potentially end your life.

Preliminary studies have been published about the oil’s potential health effects, but scientists have said that there is not yet enough evidence to make sweeping claims about its health benefits. 

“We don’t exactly know how cannabidiol works in the body,” Robert Laprairie, an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s college of pharmacy and nutrition, told CBC News in May. 

“I think we really just need more research and more studies in order to demonstrate whether cannabidiol is or isn’t effective as a treatment for different conditions.” 

Health Canada has also expressed concern over some of the therapeutic claims being made about cannabidiol.

Dr. Zeid Mohamedali is a urologist, medicinal cannabis researcher and consultant who also holds a PhD in cancer research from the University of British Columbia. He is a strong supporter of cannabis-based medicine but also wants people to use it with caution, and with the guidance of a physician.

Dr. Zeid Mohamedali is a Vancouver Island-based urologist and medical cannabis consultant. (Supplied)

“The problem with anecdotal, one-off evidence is there are so many different factors that control cancer evolution,” he said.

“You can’t be sure in a one-off situation that it is truly the cannabis that has made the change. It very well may be… but there’s no way for us to definitely say that it is the cannabis that has caused the change.”

Mohamedali said there are well-established therapeutic uses for cannabis, and some research to show potentially positive impacts in killing certain cancer cells but he worries about people taking preliminary research or anecdotes as a signal that they should opt out of proven treatments.  

“I have had patients who have suggested they would like to come off their chemotherapy and use cannabis and of course I totally disagree with that, because we don’t have the evidence to support cannabis as a single therapy for treatment of any of the cancers,” he said.

Mohamedali points to a breast cancer study as a prime example of why this could be dangerous.

He said that, in the lab study, a low dose cannabis compound was found to potentially kill breast cancer cells.

“That very same study showed that at a higher dose of CBD, those cancer cells grew faster. So the very same study, two different doses of the very same drug, gave very different responses,” he said.

When it comes to his own patients, Mohamedali said he’s seen hundreds of people have success using cannabis medicines for things like pain, sleep, anxiety and illnesses like fibromyalgia.

For people who are considering using the plant to self-medicate, he said to weigh the risk.

“If the risk is simply that you don’t get appropriate sleep, that’s not as harmful as if your cancer gets out of control or your seizures get to the point where you’re having severe seizures or some life-threatening outcome.”

Marsden said he understands why doctors are taking a cautious approach to medicinal cannabis, but he’s less concerned with the clinical studies and more invested in the individual successes he’s heard of and seen firsthand.

Following protocol

With recreational cannabis about to become legal, doctors like Mohamedali are concerned about diminishing the medicinal component of the plant.

Jacqueline Smith said she worries about the lack of education people have around it and how it might impact the mental health of young people in Gitanyow.

But when it comes to medicinal distribution, and the work Marsden has been doing, she’s fully supportive.

“We’re a small community and it works for us,” she said.

Marsden said cannabis shouldn’t be treated differently from the medicines people have harvested from their territory for generations.

Marsden holds up a syringe of cannabis oil. The oil is ingested orally using a toothpick held under the user’s tongue. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

“We use quite a bit of traditional medicines. Elders and people in the village, we go out and get devil’s club and all of that,” said Marsden.

Devil’s club is a plant harvested for its medicinal properties by many Indigenous groups across Canada and the U.S.  

And like the harvest and distribution of local medicines, no money is exchanged when Marsden supplies people with cannabis oil.

“He doesn’t charge anything for it… because our belief is that it doesn’t work if you do that,” said Smith.

“It’s just like the plants we go out and get. We pick those and we give them to people. We’re always taught not to sell that.”

Asserting the nation’s rights and title, and Gitanyow Ayookxw (law), is something Marsden was raised to do. He’s fully embraced cannabis under his nation’s legal system and sees cultivating the plant and supplying people in the community with its medicines as an inherent right.

“It’s legal under our law… regardless of the provincial or federal laws,” he said.

“We live under our law. We live with our title to the land and it keeps us healthy. It’s a very comforting system that we have. Nobody’s ever left alone.”

Expansion plans for legal cannabis  

There’s a lot of interest in capturing the economic benefits from the legalized landscape across Canada and Gitanyow is no exception.

More than a dozen people sit around a boardroom table in the Gitanyow health office for a meeting about the nation’s green energy plan — a portfolio that includes food security, alternative energy and cannabis.  

Among those in attendance are Garry Reece and Simon Harvey of Nomis Holding, a Pemberton, B.C.-based company working to become a licensed cannabis producer under the Health Canada framework.  

Marsden is most interested in producing whole plant oil locally and educating people about the medicinal properties of the plant through his venture Kitwancool.com. But he’s not opposed to selling it for recreational purposes — to him, there’s not much of a difference.

From left, Garry Reece, Wil Marsden and Simon Harvey pose for a photo after a meeting at the Gitanyow Health Centre regarding the proposed partnership with Nomis Holding Ltd. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

He’s in talks with Reece and Harvey from Nomis about partnering up.

Harvey, the company’s CEO, said the aim is to focus exclusively on supplying cannabis products to First Nations. There are also plans to offer modular dispensary services to communities.

Marsden’s long-term vision is ambitious. He wants to see greenhouses built in the community to grow cannabis and food — and to power the greenhouses through alternative energy sources.

But it’s still not clear how things will unfold with the proposed Nomis partnership or what kind of demand the dispensary will attract. Marsden said they’ll be ready to start processing online orders by about January.

People in the community are already growing a crop of plants.

“At the end of this year we’ll have a crop to produce; we’ll have a workshop and show people how to produce it and follow the Rick Simpson recipe,” said Marsden.


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5Oct

Use of RFID fare gates will remain free for those with disabilities

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Omar Al-azawi tries the new Universal Fare Gate Access gates at the Sperling/Burnaby lake SkyTrain Station in January.



Omar Al-azawi tries the new Universal Fare Gate Access gates at the Sperling/Burnaby lake SkyTrain Station in January.


Nick Procaylo / PNG

TransLink riders unable to use their hands to tap a Compass card will continue to have free access to SkyTrain and SeaBus stations using the Universal Fare Gate Access Program.

Sam Turcott, executive director of the Disability Alliance of B.C., applauded TransLink’s commitment to making its services as accessible as possible to people with disabilities. He said the feedback the alliance had received about the fare gate access pilot program was very positive.

“It means that people with particularly significant mobility and dexterity related disabilities are able to access the transit system just like everyone else,” Turcott said. “And we’re really pleased with TransLink’s decision to continue to provide individuals with the RFID (Long-range Radio Frequency Identification) chips free access to gated areas in the TransLink system.”

The universal access program, which was soft launched in January, makes it possible for people who have limited or no use of their arms and are unable to tap Compass cards to get through the accessible fare gates at stations.

Long-range radio frequency identification sensors are installed above the accessible fare gates at SkyTrain and SeaBus stations, so that the gates will simply swing open for people who have been issued universal access cards as part of the program.

Long-range radio frequency identification readers have been installed at 51 stations on the Canada, Expo and Millennium lines, as well as at both SeaBus stations. It’s expected that all SkyTrain stations in the system will be outfitted with these readers by the end of 2018.

Geoff Cross, vice-president of policy and planning for TransLink, told a board meeting on Thursday that 20 people had applied for the Universal Fare Gate Access Program. Eleven applicants were approved, five were waiting for meetings with occupational therapists and four were rejected. Those who were not approved were offered assistive devices to enable tapping at Compass fare gates.

The transit authority initially decided to give free universal access cards to eligible customers so they could use the new technology while TransLink finished installing sensors at the rest of its station and monitored the program’s reception.

On average, there have been 100 instances a month of the universal access card being used to access the gated transit system, with most users travelling infrequently.

“The take up was not significant,” Cross said. “We didn’t expect it to be — it’s a small portion of the population.”

He said the small number of customers who were eligible for the program was part of the reason the service would remain free.

The Universal Fare Gate Access Program cost $9 million to set up, with half paid for by the federal government, 33 per cent from the province and the rest from TransLink.

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23Sep

Barber fights to build compassion for DTES residents, 1 free haircut at a time

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Barber Alysha Osborne first decided to give free haircuts on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside after a troubling encounter with an acquaintance more than a year ago.

The two were getting out of a taxi when someone approached them and asked for spare change. The acquaintance laughed and told the person to get a job.

“It really pissed me off,” Osborne said, in the office upstairs from where she manages a downtown barber shop.

Osborne decided she wanted to do something to foster compassion for disadvantaged people living in Vancouver. She created 2 Paycheques Away, a non-profit that offers free haircuts and fundraises for Downtown Eastside residents.

“I want people to realize that it doesn’t take a lot to make a change,” she said. “Be humane to people, and compassion. It’s really not that hard.”

On Sunday afternoon, Osborne will be hosting a fundraiser and launch of her new book, which documents a year of giving free haircuts and shaves.

 

Osborne says her clients often seem brighter and more confident after getting one of her free haircuts. (Mihailo Subotic/2 Paycheques Away)

The organization operates out of a back room of a non-profit work clothing provider called Working Gear on Powell Street.

Along with the free haircuts, Osborne works with photographer Mihailo Subotic to get before and after shots of her clients — if they’re willing.

Osborne thought of before and after shots specifically because she wanted people to see how a simple change like a haircut can transform a person and how they’re perceived by others.

Of the roughly 200 free haircuts she’s given, Osborne says about 50 clients agreed to have their photo taken and sometimes share their story.

“Because of the purpose of the project,a lot of them gave me a lot of truth,” she said. “They want people to know how it goes.”

‘She cracks jokes’

Brad Bell, 57, first started getting haircuts from Osborne about a year ago.

Bell used to work as a fish culture technician, remediating river beds. But a congenital heart condition and bad arthritis means he now lives mostly off of disability cheques.

 

Brad Bell has been getting haircuts from Alysha Osborne for the past year. (Mihailo Subotic/2 Paycheques Away)

Bell went to Working Gear looking for rain gear — his had been stolen. While he was there, the volunteers at the shop told him there was a new barber working in the back giving free haircuts.

He and Osborne clicked. Since then, he’s been seeing her about every three months.

“She’s really sweet, funny — she cracks jokes,” Bell said. “She’s really nice, personable.”

Personal connection

Osborne says she knows from personal experience that most people on the Downtown Eastside don’t choose to end up there — her stepmother ran away from home as a teenager and ended up in the area as a sex worker and heroin addict by time she was 20.

“It’s really hard to know somebody and see that, but then see strangers and know that they’re going through the exact same thing,” she said.

 

Osborne also provides her clients with a free shave, if they want it. (Mihailo Subotic/2 Paycheques Away)

Osborne says she and Subotic had no idea what to expect when they first started their project. But in the past year, she has learned a lot from her clients — mostly about humanity and kindness.

“Everybody wanted to offer me something back, but these are people who have nothing,” she said.

Proceeds from Sunday’s fundraiser will go to Working Gear and the Downtown Eastside Women’s shelter. Proceeds from the book will also go towards supporting 2 Paycheques Away.

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