photos: "Good Mom," taken by Megaphone vendor Julie Chapman

Good Mom

Each month, Megaphone features an image chosen as a Top 30 finalist in our annual Hope in Shadows photo contest.
The winning 13 photos are published in the 2020 Hope in Shadows calendar, on sale now in Vancouver and Victoria.

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There’s a pride and playfulness in the mother’s face—Tara—as she holds her daughter, who was three or four months old at the time this photo was taken in June 2019.

The baby girl stares back at the camera, her face open and inquisitive. 

“It’s good to see,” says Megaphone vendor Julie Chapman, who snapped the picture in front of SFU Woodward’s in downtown Vancouver. “I know [Tara] has been through quite a lot, like many people, and she’s kind of beat the odds in a lot of ways. And having a baby at a young age and whatnot, she’s really kept it together and put her priorities in order.

“She’s come from being a little bit of a wild child to now being a responsible mom and doing all these mom things. Yeah, it’s really cool to see.”

Julie is a mom-of-two herself and is familiar with the challenges that come with raising kids—in her case, two boys. She also believes in maintaining meaningful connections with family—whatever form that takes.

“Belonging to family, whether it’s extended family or your actual ‘real’ family, is important,” Julie says. “I consider [Tara] like a family member because I’ve known her for at least 10 years.”

Sometimes, Julie reflects, when life throws the tough stuff at you, a baby brings fresh hope.

“You know… having a child, and I think [Tara’s] father passed away not too long ago, she kind of did a runner. But then it seemed like she kind of bounced back and sort of thought, ‘I’m going to get back at the world, I’ll show them that I won’t let it get me down.’ She’s persevered in many ways—personal challenges and otherwise, and her baby… she’s so proud of her. She’s a really good mom. It’s amazing to see.” 

Julie pauses to laugh.

“She’s like, ‘Shut up!’ She doesn’t like to admit it, but she knows she’s a good mom.”

The theme of the 2020 Hope in Shadows calendar is “Belonging,” and Julie is pretty sure this photo represents that.

“What’s more powerful than a mother and her chid? I just think it’s beautiful. It’s also strength, it’s perseverance, it’s the next generation, you know what I mean? It’s pretty cool.”  


About the photographer:

Julie Chapman is a born-and-raised Vancouverite who graduated from Kitsilano Secondary School and went on to become a licensed hairdresser and mother of two sons. When a series of personal hardships plunged her into grief, Julie got caught up in drug use to dull the pain. Eventually, addiction took its toll.

“I had met some people and they introduced me to intravenous drugs—heroin,” Julie says. “It got to the point where I had to have it in order to not get sick.”

One day 17 years ago, Julie decided to seek help and went to a walk-in clinic. She began taking an alternative, methadone, and says she has never looked back.

A Downtown Eastside resident, today Julie is a volunteer with SWUAV (Sex Workers United Against Violence), B.C. Association for People on Methadone, and the BC Centre for Substance Use. She’s co-authored Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside, and Opioids: A Survivor’s Guide. She’s also been a member of Megaphone’s Speakers Bureau program, which aims to eliminate stigma around substance use.

Julie is also a published poet and writer, and a self-taught pianist. She has been a Megaphone vendor since 2003. Watch for her in Gastown near the steam clock.


Want to purchase a 2020 Hope in Shadows calendar? During the COVID-19 outbreak, drop us a line at [email protected] and we'll arrange for you to get one.

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