• Many Scars (2009)

    A man comes up to order a coffee, no sugar, sugar makes you crazy. He's wearing a tweed sort of English golf hat, and has eyebrows like my dad's right before he gets them trimmed. [...]He talks about his theory of madness caused by sugar in a good-humoured way, then comments that we look like new volunteers. He comes in closer to me and lowers his voice, "This place is amazing. You will meet people here... well some of them you'll wish you'd never met, but some people here are so wonderful, in what they do, and just who they are." And I know he's not only talking about people like Sister Christine. I like him already. I hear someone call him John later and I hope I get the chance to use his name.

    That is what I wrote after I met John during my first volunteer shift at the Drop-In Centre, which serves two hot meals every day for people staying at the shelter and anyone else who wants one.

    It's been nearly two years now since we first met, two years of me spending a couple hours every weekend at the centre, two years of serving him sugarless coffee. He was among the first people I photographed for my “We are who we are through other people” series of portraits made at the Drop-In Centre. After I gave him some prints, he invited me to photograph him again and it quickly became a collaboration. The photographs in this series were shot over a six-month period.

    For 25 years, John has lived with multiple sclerosis, which means literally 'many scars,' and he's finding it increasingly difficult to walk. He says he knows time is running out and eventually he won't be able to walk at all. At the Drop-In Centre, we've started carrying his meals to the table for him, because one time he fell. All of his tattoos honour his family: one for his grandmother and one for his grandfather who both raised him. His most recent tattoos honour his son, his daughter (both grown), and their mother, his ex-wife.