Photographers provide free Mother’s Day portraits for women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Deanna and her daughter Christa. Aimee Odegard/Welcome Here

A number of professional photographers stepped up to provide a number of mothers living in the Downtown Eastside something they wouldn’t have otherwise — a photo with their children.

Recruited by the Union Gospel Mission, the photographers took photos of the moms and children just in time for Mother’s Day.

The moms are all living at UGM’s Sanctuary, which is a stabilization program aimed at keeping moms and babies together while the moms are getting their lives in order. Some of the moms in the group were once homeless and some have a history of substance abuse.

READ MORE: Union Gospel Mission dishes up 3,000 meals for annual Christmas dinner

One of the moms in the program, Deanna, started crying for joy when she saw the photos taken by Aimee Odegard from Welcome Here Photography.

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Deanna has a baby girl named Christa.

“I’d been living in the Downtown Eastside for the last decade. And it’s been really rough these past nine years. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t think I would be able to keep her. I didn’t think I would be able to fully care for her the way she needed…And then I had her, and I fell in love so hard. I knew I just could not leave her whatsoever,” says Deanna.

That’s when she knew she wasn’t going to use drugs anymore and now she’s working on getting back on her feet.

“This photoshoot makes me feel so beautiful — I’ve never really had anything like this before. And my daughter is just so beautiful, I’m glad to have this moment in time. I hold her close to me, and every night as she falls asleep on my chest, I whisper ‘I love you.’”

Deanna and her daughter Christa. Credit: Aimee Odegard/Welcome Here.

The UGM recruited the photographers through Instagram and say these moms are all working towards a better future, and that they deserve to be celebrated.

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READ MORE: ‘Her love for me never died’: How to celebrate the moms no longer with us

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