Since arriving on the West Coast in 2002, Garvin Snider has left no stone unturned in the Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood he’s called home for over a decade. The time he’s spent living here has changed him, he says. “I’m not the same person I was when I left [Ottawa for B.C.] 13 years ago,” he says. “Mentally, I’m happier. I’m more at peace.”
After 13 years, Garvin Snider says goodbye to Vancouver
He’ll carry that with him when he boards a Greyhound bus bound for Ottawa, Ontario in February 2015. He’s moving back to his hometown, he says, to spend more time with his family, namely his four remaining sisters.
He’ll leave a lot behind in Vancouver. Garvin has been a street newspaper vendor since 2007, when the magazine that would become Megaphone was called Street Corner. He’s a member of the Megaphone board, he’s served on the Pivot Legal Society Board, and he’s been part of the Hope in Shadows photography contest and vendor program since its inception in 2003.
“I’d like to thank [Megaphone executive director] Sean Condon for all the support, for believing in me. Knowing I believed in the program and supporting me through many transitions as the magazine grew and we grew together.
"And Carolyn Wong for all the Hope in Shadows work. Paul Ryan [former Hope in Shadows coordinator], too, because they’ve allowed me to participate in almost every facet of the program,” Garvin says. “I’d also like to thank [former and current Pivot Legal Society executive directors] John Richardson, Peter Wrinch, and Katrina Pacey. They’ve supported not just me, but the community, and I’m very grateful.”
In addition to his work with Megaphone, Hope in Shadows, and Pivot, he’s been involved with the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, Urban Core, AHA Media, W2 Media, the Living Room, Potter’s Place Mission, and Mission Possible. He has also been featured in three documentaries: the 2010 Olympic documentary With Glowing Hearts, the 2014 film Somewhere Else Is Here, and Echoes, an educational film produced by SUCCESS.
Garvin’s involvement with Downtown Eastside community organizations has made for a refreshing kind of work, he says, that doesn’t feel like a normal job. He’s relished the freedom and the open exchange of ideas that he’s experienced in the community. “There’s nothing like that anywhere, and I’ve travelled across the country,” he says. “It’s like the flowers that bloom through the cracks in the sidewalk...there’s a real feeling of community and freedom down here... nowhere else have I experienced that.”
Though he’ll miss the Downtown Eastside, he knows it’s the right time for him to move home to Ottawa. “I’m 52. I have no family out here. I just suffered through big health issues and it was difficult being by myself and living on low-income,” he says.
Garvin would like to thank the Megaphone and Hope in Shadows vendors he’s worked with through the years.
“It gave us a commonality. We were a team,” he says. Selling Megaphone “was like a secret team within the Downtown Eastside—a members’-only club of the Downtown Eastside. And when you were in, it felt really good!”
“I’m hoping to take all the things I’ve learned here and use them to benefit the community in Ottawa,” he says. “I’d like to link the wonderful experiences I’ve had here with my hometown.”
Until he makes tracks for Ottawa, Garvin sells Megaphone at Main and 14th in Vancouver.