Vancouver street youth photograph so-called ‘best place on earth’ for exhibit

published on May 1, 2018 by Bronwyn Beairsto in Vancouver Courier

A photograph shows a single dried rose on a white wall. The actual rose can be found in the Downtown Eastside bachelor suite Sarah White shares with her partner and father of her two children, who live with White’s parents.

“[The rose] is just saying that our love is forever,” says White. “It’s really hard to have relationships, especially when addiction, homelessness, and all these issues come up.”

White, now 30, says she’s battled addiction since she was 19, and chose to photograph items around her apartment as part of a photo essay called “Undying Love.”

“That’s supposed to be my sanctuary, my nest, my safe zone,” she said. “Because once you step out your door, you never know what’ll happen, especially living in Downtown East Side.”

Two of White’s photos will be on display as part of a new exhibit called Living in the Best Place on Earth. The photography show features photo essays from 14 street-involved youth in Vancouver and emerged from the ongoing At-Risk Youth Study, from the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.

Dayna Fast, a co-lead investigator of the study, dreamed up the photography project in 2011 while she was working on her PhD in anthropology at UBC. “The focus was very broadly on sense of place, and then each individual developed their photo essay from there,” she says.“Everybody did something so different.”

The photographs in the exhibit, which runs May 1 to 3, show a range of spaces. There’s a cityscape, a hospital bed and a chain-link fence, among others.

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