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10Oct

What do you do if you want to sing and help people with disabilities at the same time? Start a choir | CBC News

by admin

When Nicole Provost wanted to start a choir in her hometown of Abbotsford, B.C., in 2015, she had a few things working against her.

Firstly, she didn’t know any singers.

She was, however, willing to spend a little cash on coffee and promotional T-shirts and, sometimes, that’s all you need to kickstart a dream.

“I actually paid a bunch of little girls in Starbucks gift cards to put on choir shirts,” she said, laughing. “They posed for pictures so I could tell everyone, ‘Look, I’ve got this awesome choir.’ “

Four years later, the Mayday Club Youth Choir for Neurodiversity performs almost every weekend at festivals and community events — and is preparing to release its second album.

But it’s not their accomplishments that make Provost, 25, most proud.

She says there aren’t many programs available to people with disabilities that encourage, educate and empower them, so she created the choir to help fill that gap.

“I’m on the autism spectrum,” she said. “I just really wanted to use music to be able to teach people about inclusion and kind of reach out to them.” 

The group now consists of more than 40 members between the ages of six and 25, all of whom have a disability.

The Mayday Youth Choir For Neurodiversity performs at the Autism Speaks Canada Walk in Richmond, B.C. on October 6, 2019. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Rock stars

The choir covers songs by everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Lady Gaga. Their upcoming album Reasons to Dream was recorded in Vancouver’s famous Warehouse Studio owned by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams.

“It was incredible,” said Provost, whose dark hair is dyed bluish-green at the tips.

“All the parents, when they walked in, were like, ‘Whoa’ because this is where Bryan Adams recorded all their favourite songs.”

The group chooses songs with inspirational messages. When they perform, Provost serves as conductor, vocalist and hype person, bouncing in front of the choir as she belts out tunes at the top of her lungs.

“My favourite song is Million Reasons,” said vocalist Victor Smith, referring to the Lady Gaga hit. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

Big dreams

When Provost isn’t performing, she’s studying aviation, pursuing her dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

She started down that path to overcome her fear of flying.

“It got to the point where I was having nightmares about planes, so I decided to try an introductory flight just to see how it would be,” she said.

“I just really decided that I loved it and it’s just an amazing feeling to get over something that you’re scared of.”

The next challenge Provost wants to take on is organizing a national blood drive.

“It will be where people with disabilities from all over Canada go and donate blood to make a statement,” she said.

“What runs in our veins is the same, and everybody’s capable of making a difference.”

26Sep

Time running out to register for inaugural Rainforest Trail Run

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


Dr. Doug Clement.


Gord Waldner / The StarPhoenix

Time is running out to register for the inaugural Rainforest Trail Run, a five-kilometre run and festival in Burnaby created for people in local Indigenous communities and open to everyone.

The run is being held Sunday morning at Swangard Stadium in Central Park, on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish People. Acknowledging where it’s taking place is an important part of why it’s taking place.

Indigenous coaches and leaders have promoted running and walking in it within their communities. A public festival at the finish line featuring music, food and art celebrates the heritage of Canada’s Indigenous culture.

The event marks the first anniversary of the award-winning Indigenous Sport Gallery at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, which walks visitors through some of the most important contributions to sport by First Nations athletes and coaches.

And the event is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which makes five calls of action related to sports, said organizer Dr. Doug Clement, a founder of The Vancouver Sun Run and president of the Achilles International Track and Field Society.

Clement said he has learned a great deal about the impacts of colonization on Indigenous Peoples and communities, and the event is meant to honour them while informing people about some of their history.

“These issues are not something we’ve been taught about in our education, but I think it’s our responsibility to learn more about the Indigenous component that has been here for thousands and thousands of years,” he said.

The First Nations Health Authority, which is a partner for the event, has sent trainers to First Nations communities and helped bring more runners to the event, Clement said.

Organizer Dr. Rosalin Miles said the run promotes health but also promises to be part of a fun event that celebrates “coming from one place.” She will run with family and friends.

“Having an event that attracts truth and reconciliation right now is really important in Canada and B.C.,” said Miles, a research associate in Indigenous Studies in Kinesiology at the University of B.C. “Bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together in physical activity is really important for holistic health and wellness.”

Jason Beck, curator of the hall of fame, worked with colleagues for two years to build the Indigenous Sports Gallery, which helped establish the attraction as a leader in promoting Indigenous health, wellness and sport. Beck said the hall of fame helped organizers with research for the event and will bring some artifacts to the event.

He is keen to support the event and run Sunday.

“Working on this gallery, we really became aware of the challenges that some Indigenous communities are facing with health and wellness,” he said. “We thought it was important to support that.”

More details can be found at rainforesttrailrun.com. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

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7Aug

Daphne Bramham: College roots out the bad, white-collar dealers, one pharmacist at a time

by admin

When you think about shady drug dealers, it’s usually in the context of the Downtown Eastside or the Surrey Strip.

But in the last three months alone, the B.C. College of Pharmacists has rooted out some white-collar guys who were running illegal pharmacies, faking prescriptions, doling out methadone improperly, and plumping up their dispensing numbers with made-up prescriptions for over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.

While their crimes don’t have the same kind of mean-streets vibe as the illicit dealers, it doesn’t mean that the guys in white coats didn’t do some seriously bad things.

Let’s start with William Byron Sam, who is still under investigation by the college for “knowingly operating an unlicensed pharmacy.”

A complaint outcome report posted on the college’s website says “serious public risk indicators were present within the pharmacy.“ It doesn’t spell out what those serious risks are and, in an emailed response to my question about where Sam was getting the drugs from, the college refused to say.

In March, the college cancelled the licence for Garlane Pharmacy #2, which Sam was operating at 104-3380 Maquinna Dr. in Vancouver’s Champlain Heights.

(It still has two five-star ratings on Yelp! So, if it’s a legitimate drugstore you’re after, you might want to check the college’s listings.)

Sam’s problems began in 2015 with a practice review, which was followed up by a request for more information. In 2017, the college told him his conduct would be the subject of a hearing, admonishing him for failing to respond to the college after a practice review in 2015 and to a request for more information in 2016.

In May, Salma Sadrudin Damji, another Vancouver pharmacist, was found to have used a prescription pad from a medical clinic and falsified 62 prescriptions for Schedule 1 drugs, which include heroin, LSD, ecstasy and methaqualone (aka Quaalude) using three patient names and two physician names. In May, the college fined her $1,000, imposed a 90-day suspension and forbid her from owning or managing a pharmacy for three years or acting as a preceptor or mentor for pharmacy students.

Beyond that, the college says it can’t comment.

North Vancouver’s Davood Nekoi Panah provided monetary incentives to a patient, dispensed Schedule 1 drugs without an authorized prescription in unlabelled and mislabelled containers — all without taking reasonable steps to confirm the identify of the patients before giving them the drugs.

He was fined $10,000. Starting Sept. 4, he can’t work for two months and can’t be a pharmacy manager or preceptor for two years. Questions about him were also met with a no-further-comment response from the college.

Amandeep Khun-Khun has every appearance of being a good guy. From 2010 until 2012, he was on the college’s community practice advisory committee making recommendations related to community pharmacy practices. He was a preceptor for UBC pharmacy students and was quoted in UBC’s 2013 brochure aimed at recruiting other mentors.

But in June, Khun-Khun was fined $30,000 and suspended from practice for 540 days. He can only return to full pharmacist status if he passes the college’s jurisprudence exam and completes an ethics course.

The mailing address for his company, Khun-Khun Drugs, is the Shoppers Drug Mart on the tony South Granville Rise.

Over three years, the Vancouver pharmacist processed more than 15,000 false prescriptions for vitamins and over-the-counter drugs — things like aspirin and ibuprofen — on the PharmaNet records of seven individuals. But those seven people didn’t know anything about it.

Khun-Khun admitted he “directed pharmacy assistants to process transactions weekly on PharmaNet in order to artificially inflate the pharmacy’s prescription count.”

He did it even though he had previously undertaken to comply with all ethical requirements after earlier complaints.

Part of the reason Khun-Khun didn’t get caught earlier is because neither of the two full-time pharmacists working for him did what they were supposed to. The inquiry committee wrote that both of them “turned a blind eye” to what they knew or should have known was wrong.

They knew or should have known that what was happening was wrong since the transactions were done without patients’ consent and were an improper use and access of personal information.

William Wanyang Lu and Jason Wong were both working for Khun-Khun full-time. Both now have letters of reprimand on their permanent registration file and were required to pass both an ethics course and the college’s law exam or face 30-day suspensions.

Yet Wong hasn’t deleted a comment on his LinkedIn profile that while he worked at Shoppers Drug Mart he was “coached with great mentors at this pharmacy including Amandeep Khun-Khun.”

Among the others disciplined recently is Sing Man Tam. He was fined $10,000 and had a reprimand letter put on his permanent record for his “inadequate diligence and oversight” over two years related mainly to dispensing methadone to addicts to quell their cravings and minimize the effects of opioids.

Tam processed prescriptions without authorization. He also didn’t witness its ingestion, which is legally required (and the reason that pharmacists get $17 for dispensing it rather than the usual $10 for other medications).

He billed for methadone that was marked in the logs as having been “missed” and Tam delivered it without authorization by the doctor who wrote the prescription.

For the past several years, the college has received close to 800 complaints, but many of those don’t require any disciplinary action or even a referral to an inquiry committee. Its statistics cover the 12 months from March 1 to the end of February.

And while the most recent fines and suspensions may not seem to add up to much, the college is not always the final arbiter. The courts are.

In March, Richmond pharmacist Jin Tong (Tom) Li was sentenced to a year of house arrest after pleading guilty to one count of obtaining more than $5,000 under a false pretence.

The charge links back to the college’s disciplinary action in 2016 after it found that Li had submitted more than 2,400 fraudulent claims to PharmaCare between 2013 and 2014 that cost the B.C. government $616,000.

Coincidentally, Li’s pharmacy licence was reinstated as a pharmacist in October 2018, having been suspended for 540 days. He is still banned from being a manager, director or pharmacy owner or preceptor until 2023.

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13Jul

Updated voting technologies coming to B.C., likely in time for next provincial election | CBC News

by admin

A new, modernized voting system will likely be in place when British Columbians cast their ballots in the next provincial general election.

Elections BC received a letter July 3 from Attorney General David Eby, indicating the province’s intention to introduce the legislative changes aimed at increasing accessibility and efficiency come election day.

“Should voting modernization be adopted, it will improve the voting experience for British Columbians, make voting faster, improve accessibility, speed up results, and provide candidates with current participation information to assist them in their efforts to get out the vote,” said Anton Boegman, B.C.’s chief electoral officer, in a news release Thursday.

The proposed changes include:

  • Being able to vote at any polling place in the province.
  • All votes, including absentee ballots to be counted on election night.
  • Voting activity recorded in an electronic voting book covering the entire province, for faster ballot counting.
  • Participation captured in real-time, electronically, with votes uploaded to central servers.
  • Uploaded votes to be instantly shared with candidates and political parties. 

The new technologies would also increase accessibility for voters with disabilities by way of updated assistive voting devices.

The goal is for the new systems to be in place for B.C.’s next scheduled general election on Oct. 16, 2021.

The estimated cost to develop and implement the proposed voting model in B.C. is $11 million.

If the Legislative Assembly adopts the amendments, it would be the most significant update to voting procedures in at least 20 years, according to Boegman.


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22Jun

Changing health care one app at a time

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When Mari-Lynn Cordahi was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 21 years ago, she would have welcomed someone to talk to who knew from experience what she was going through.

Today, she fills that role for others newly diagnosed with MS, thanks to her role as a peer mentor on Curatio. Dubbed a ‘social health prescription,’ Vancouver-based Curatio is the brainchild of co-founder and CEO Lynda Brown-Ganzert.


Mari-Lynn Cordahi is a peer mentor on Curatio.

Handout

“I’ve connected with people through the Curatio app,” said Cordahi. “One person in the UK, I connected with her within days of her being diagnosed.

“If I put myself back 21 years ago, I know what she is going through. I sure would have appreciated it if something like this had been available then.”

Using a combination of artificial intelligence and private social networks, Curatio’s mobile app fills a gap in our healthcare system, creating personalized support networks for patients and caregivers who are newly diagnosed or navigating their way through an illness or chronic condition.

The idea came to Brown-Ganzert when she was undergoing fertility issues and complications in pregnancy.


Using a combination of artificial intelligence and private social networks, Curatio’s mobile app fills a gap in our healthcare system, creating personalized support networks for patients and caregivers who are newly diagnosed or navigating their way through an illness or chronic condition.

“It was when we were having our second child and there were some complications and issues around that,” she said.  “I became  a patient and found, ‘oh my goodness, there are some really broken pieces here.’

“Being an entrepreneur you’re always thinking how you could fix it. The genesis of Curatio came from that – looking at the isolation, the difficulty patients have navigating, the lack of curated information you can trust that is personalized to you, connecting with others who are similar to you or have gone through the same thing.”

Brown-Ganzert, whose background is in digital media, had spent the previous 10 years building private mobile social networks. Her experience with the healthcare system convinced her that the idea of private social networks could be applied in the healthcare field.

“A good friend of mine had a heart attack and became our first use case,” she said. “With him and together with Alireza (Davoodi), my co-founder, we built a prototype in 40 days, went on to win a global challenge and our first customer and we were off.”

That was five years ago. Today Curatio is used in more than 85 countries and in four languages.

“Where I started from was recognizing social was a missing piece in healthcare transformation. When you start to connect patients, and we have clinical evidence to show this, you have improved outcomes,” said Brown-Ganzert.

When you sign onto the system, an AI agent helps you navigate to find what you need. There are currently three active communities: in heart, multiple sclerosis and thalassemia, an online community ThaliMe, plus you can sign onto the general Curatio network, or as a caregiver.

Along with the social support, the app provides everything from medication reminders to self-assessment, helping patients manage their disease or chronic condition.

Brown-Ganzert  took the concept to the Dragon’s Den, winning over three dragons from the television show who are among investors who so far have put US$1.6 million into the company. Curatio counts a number of non-profit patient advocacy organizations as clients, delivering a means to reach patients that complies with privacy and regulatory requirements. The platform is also being used in research, providing a social plugin that helps research teams connect to participants in their community.

For Beverly Sudbury, of Charlottetown, PEI, Curatio creates connections to a global community of people who share a diagnosis of MS.

“For me I like connecting with people and I like finding new sources of information or bouncing ideas off people,” she said.


For Beverly Sudbury, of Charlottetown, PEI, Curatio creates connections to a global community of people who share a diagnosis of MS.

Handout

Sudbury, who is also a peer supporter on the network, said she checks daily to see what’s new.

“It’s building an online community of people you can get support from when you’re having a crappy day,” she said. “They’ll say ‘keep going,’ or they’ll help out with a different perspective.”

Users create their own profile on the app, but they don’t have to use their real name and can choose what information is publicly displayed.

There is also a private chat function.

“For me the chat functionality is fantastic,” said Sudbury.

Unlike friends and family who can’t really understand some of the issues facing people with MS because they haven’t lived with the disease, Sudbury said other patients will know exactly what she is talking about.

“I’ll say ‘I’m tired,” and a friend will say, ‘I know what you mean, I was up really late last night,’” she said. “But it’s not the same.”

Cordahi, who was an elementary school teacher before MS forced her to stop teaching 15 years ago, likes to volunteer since she can’t work and Curatio provides that opportunity to engage.

“When you talk to someone who has gone through this journey, there is definitely a sense of comfort and trust that they understand and are going through something similar – even when it’s difficult subjects or personal things,” she said.

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16May

‘Deeply upsetting’: Long time Summerland, B.C., lifeguard accused of indecent acts involving children | CBC News

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A long time lifeguard and aquatic centre supervisor in Summerland, B.C., has been charged with 10 criminal counts for alleged sex crimes against children between 2008 and 2014, according to the RCMP.

Edward Casavant, 54, of Penticton was arrested on Wednesday on an outstanding warrant in relation to a child sexual assault and pornography investigation that began last November when someone contacted investigators at the Penticton RCMP detachment, according to police.

“Mr. Casavant was also known as ‘Eddie Spaghetti’ and was employed as a lifeguard for over 30 years beginning in the late 1980s,” said RCMP Cpl. Chris Manseau.

“We believe that Mr. Casavant used his position to gain access to school-aged children and in addition he volunteered as a lifeguard at various local summer camps.”

Cpl. Manseua said Casavant is facing the following criminal charges:

  • 2 counts of making or publishing child pornography.

  • 1 count of importing or distributing child pornography.

  • 1 count of possession of child pornography.

  • 1 count of accessing child pornography.

  • 1 count of secretly observe/record nudity in private place.

  • 1 count of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.

  • 1 count of sexual assault.

  • 1 count of sexual interference of person under 16.

  • 1 count of Invitation to sexual touching under 16.

Edward Casavant worked as a lifeguard and aquatic centre supervisor with the District of Summerland for the past 30 years, retiring in late 2018. (District of Summerland)

Cpl. Manseau said investigators have identified at least two victims but believe there are others who have not spoken to police or who may not be aware they are a victim.

‘Deeply upsetting’

Casavant worked as a lifeguard and aquatic centre supervisor for the District of Summerland for 30 years until his retirement in late 2018, according the district.

In a written statement, Summerland Mayor Toni Boot described the allegations as ‘”deeply upsetting” and stated “our focus is on ensuring those impacted by these alleged incidents get the help they need, and ensure this sort of thing can’t happen again.”

Boot wrote that she understands the situation is upsetting to the community but because the case is before the courts the district is unable to answer questions about the matter.

“We know people will have questions and we will do our best to answer them when it is appropriate and when we have the authorities’ permission to do so.”

Boot stated the district and its staff will strive to ‘provide municipal facilities where people can feel comfortable, safe and free from harm or discrimination.’

Cpl. Manseau said investigators have released a photo of Casavant in hopes that additional victims may recognize him and contact police.

He asked anyone with information about the case to contact the Penticton RCMP tip line at 250-276-2177.


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2May

B.C. touts success of new MRI strategy but lacks wait time proof

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VICTORIA — B.C.’s health minister is touting the success of his strategy to expand the number of MRI scans done in the province, but can’t definitively show that it has reduced waiting times for the diagnostic procedure.

Adrian Dix said Thursday that the number of MRIs done in the past year has risen by 43,993 scans, or an increase of 23 per cent. In some regions, the increase has been more dramatic. In Northern Health, which had the worst rate of MRI scans in Canada, the number of MRIs jumped almost 87 per cent.

“It is an extraordinary achievement for the public health care system in British Columbia to do this in one year,” said Dix.

Last year B.C. began running 10 of the province’s 33 MRI machines 24 hours a day, seven days a week and bought two privately owned MRI clinics  in the Fraser Valley to expand capacity, said Dix.

Increasing the use of public machines cost $11 million. The cost of buying the private clinics has not been released. Government is adding another $5.25 million to the MRI budget next year, which Dix said will fund 15,000 additional MRI scans.

But Dix was unable to back up the detailed MRI stats with similarly detailed figures that show chronically long waiting times are decreasing across the province. He said his ministry is still trying to compile those figures.

A Health Ministry document obtained by Postmedia News in 2018 that showed waiting times as long as 364 days for MRIs in some locations.

Dix insisted waits have dropped. “We obviously get numbers throughout the year and they show wait times improving in all the health authorities in particular Northern Health and Fraser Health where wait times were longest,” he said.

A technician operates an MRI machine. Four more scanners will be bought for installation in B.C. hospitals in 2018, the health ministry announced Thursday.


A technician operates an MRI machine.

JEFF MCINTOSH /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

The government provided partial data, including how waits for MRIs in Northern Health decreased to 29 days from 57 days for average patients as a result of the increased scanning hours.

At St. Paul’s Hospital, where MRIs are running 24 hours daily, waiting times have dropped to two days from 40 days for patients in the middle of the waiting list and to 38 days from 98 days for people at the upper end of the waiting list.

At Burnaby Hospital, where MRIs also run 24 hours, waiting times dropped to 30 days from 90 days for patients in the middle of the waiting list, and to 154 days from 249 days for people at the upper end of the waiting list.

At University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George, where the machines don’t run 24/7, waiting times dropped to 17 days from 42 days for patients in the middle of the waiting list and to 44 days from 266 days for people at the upper end of the waiting list.

Dix said the success of purchasing the two private MRI clinics and putting them in the public system may lead to similar purchases of private surgical centres to reduce surgical waiting times.

“I think we have to be entrepreneurial about this question,” he said.

“There are a lot of things (that are) good, I think some times, about community and smaller surgical centres. They take less time to build than to increase surgical capacity in a hospital,” he said. “We have to look at that absolutely to increase the capacity of the system to perform surgeries.”

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28Feb

Bike stolen in Vancouver the very first time newcomer locked it outside

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It was not the “welcome to Canada” moment that Mahshid Hadi was expecting.

The 27-year-old moved to Coqutilam from Turkey in December and the very first time she locked her bike in downtown Vancouver it was stolen.

“I didn’t bring any clothes with me – I just carried my bike with me,” Hadi said, explaining that her bike took up most of her 23-kilogram suitcase during the journey to Canada.

Originally from Iran, Hadi was a refugee in Turkey for more than four years.

Working as an ELS teacher, she said it took two years to save up enough money to buy the bike. Hadi said she would ride from one poor community to another – teaching kids how to ride it.

“This bike meant a lot to me because it carried so many stories with it,” Hadi said.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, Hadi had locked her bike on Homer Street in front of Westside Church, where she was volunteering at a film festival. When she came out it was gone.

“I was thinking, the world is gone from in front of my eyes,” Hadi said.

One security camera in the area recorded the moment two thieves approach her bike. According to the video, at 8:24 p.m. a man appears to cut her bike lock and ride away.

Another woman seen in the video follows the thief using a different bike.

“Bike thefts continue to be an issue in Vancouver and other cities around British Columbia,” explained Const. Jason Doucette with Vancouver Police.

Doucette said more than 2,000 bikes were stolen in the city in 2018.

Vancouver police recommend owners record the serial number on their bike, take a photo of the bike, and also take a photo of them with the bike.

“We recover many bikes that are stolen and we can’t link back to an owner and they end up going to auction and we don’t want to do that,” Doucette explained.

Meanwhile, Hadi is holding out hope someone will read her story and find it in their heart to return the bike.

Her message to the thief is, “This bike is much more than what you may think or imagine. It affects my life, it affects my future opportunities. I would like this bike back.”


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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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