Black History Month Photo Essay Series – Steve

Steve, 40

“I left Sierra Leone after the civil war there. I came to Canada as a refugee. My life has not been stable. I have post-traumatic stress disorder from the war. I’m homeless and have been living in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) for nine years. I felt like giving up but the DTES is where I get a lot of help. The community is where you can find a place to eat and sleep. There are good people down here. People don’t judge you if you are a drug user, have a criminal past, or anything down here. Sometimes people might not have money and people will say, “it’s okay, pay me next time.” A lot of people have pain down here but it don’t matter because we got our friends and community. I have been participating with the Carnegie African Descent Group (CADG)  too. We cook African meals together and share a conversation. The people at CADG have become my family. I have family here in the DTES.”

What do you think of Black History Month?

“Black history month is here to show us what we have done and contributed. Black history month is important and it’s important that we understand each other. Black people are an important part of this community. I’m excited to see people fight for Hogan’s Alley. Housing is necessary and it is necessary to have a Black cultural centre to rebuild what the Black community lost.”

Photo by Lenee Son, Interview by Lenee Son and Lama Mugabo

In celebration of Black History Month, the Carnegie Community Action Project and Carnegie African Descent group is doing a series of photos and interviews with Black and African-descent community members in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside