Every year on Feb 14, aWomen’s Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women March takes place in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside honoring women who had died or gone missing due to physical and mental abuse. Photo taken on Feb 14, 2013.
From the West coast of Canada, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all! Photo taken in Steveston, BC
A huge debate recently came up in the community I live in. The guy from photos above is Ryan Ashe, he is the homeless guy who became the centre of the debate. You see, Ryan has lived on the street of White Rock for abut 25 years, during which time, has become a part of our expanding community. It is said that Ryan had experienced brain damage in an accident decades ago resulting his fear to live in a confined space with other people. While it is apparent that he suffers from multiple mental illnesses and appears to be delusional from his speech and behavior, he keeps to himself. Most people who have ever spoken to him would deem him to be nonthreatening.
City expansion calls for new highrises to be built. Using that as a leverage, Ryan was asked to relocate from his usual bus shelter. Across the street he went, and it was there that he popped into the otherwise pristine ocean view of the adjacent condo residents Susan Pichette and her husband. By the way, where Ryan was, was a mile away from the ocean view in question. Susan wrote this letter to the community newspaper to complain.
Many wrote letters to defend Ryan, but it wasn’t enough. After 25 years living on the street of White Rock, he was whisked away by police and ambulance. In defense of herself, Pichette wrote a second letter (near the bottom of the page). I find the letter a good representation of Susan Pichette and others in our collective society as the ones who refuse to understand. What does it take to open up these people’s mind? How do we raise awareness to people like these? I wrote an open letter to her yesterday, hoping it would reach her, but even if she reads it, I’m not too hopeful that the message will get across.
I visited Ryan in February of this year, and I’m deeply saddened that I haven’t done enough to keep him in our community. Having a deep conversation with him wasn’t easy, but after hours of patience, I managed to get his point of view on life. He was fully aware of his situations and what people think of him. At the end of the day, he just wanted to be left alone. Before the end of our conversation, I asked if he’ll always stay put, he responded me with something that will always haunt me, “There is nowhere for me to hide. I can’t even die if I wished to. The supervisor who is responsible for me wouldn’t allow that. Here I am, unable to get better, what society considers a waste of space, and I can’t do nothing about it.” Ryan, thank you for letting me spend a few hours with you and inspire me with your humanity.
Meet Chuck, a veteran sidewalk book vendor from Manhattan. I first met him back in May while looking for a subject who would show me life as a New Yorker. Being a complete outsider who just arrived from Vancouver, I didn’t know what to expect. I learned far more than I thought I ever could from him and his friends. They shower me with generosity and treated me as one of their own and I just can’t be more thankful. More on him and his friends in future post! stay tuned.
- Octavio Paz
Still reminiscing the summer I spent in New York. The people I met couldn’t be more kind. There will be posts up about some of them coming up!
Summer is almost over!!! Thinking back, I really had a fantastic time in NYC this year, with the brutal heat and all. This really sums up how I felt that day. Sunglasses and coconut, sounds about right. Taken in Chinatown, NYC
This photo was taken earlier this year in April of a swap meet that happens at the end of each month. This is a common sight of the Vancouver’s Downtown East side. A neighbourhood consist of people who are facing and dealing with poverty, abuse, drug addiction, and mental illnesses. The man crouched down was screaming in pain while others paid little attention.
- H. Rider Haggard in King Solomon’s Mines
A reoccurring conversation between my friends and I goes like this,
“What are you smiling about?”
“Well, look over there!”
“Over there!!! The man with the.. Oh you just missed it!”
“It was a hot guy, wasn’t it?”
Yes, it usually ends up about me checking out some random hot guy who doesn’t exist. To illustrate my point, these well aligned moments amuse me. We blend into our environment more than we think.