photos: Megaphone vendor Sandra Czechaczek got soaking wet to take this photo entitled Downpour for the 2011 Hope in Shadows calendar. Photo courtesy Pivot Legal Society.

Late vendor remembered for putting others first

Maria Sonia "Sandra" Czechaczek: Oct. 18, 1964 — Dec. 24, 2019. Megaphone file photo.

Get on your megaphone

Share this:

Megaphone vendor and active Downtown Eastside (DTES) community member Maria Sonia Czechaczek—friends knew her as Sandra—passed away in hospital last year on Christmas Eve.

Sandra was a member of the Cree First Nation and was originally from Saddle Creek, AB. She lived in the DTES for more than 20 years.

She was a mother to one son and companion to Corinne Demas (CD).

Sandra and CD were inseparable, according to friend DJ, who knew Sandra for at least 35 years. She says their auras were brighter when they were together and seemed slightly dimmed when apart.

“They were like a married couple in how they made each other laugh,” DJ told Megaphone.

Sandra also loved food.

“She was a big fan of ‘Taco Tuesdays’ at Tinseltown,” DJ says.

Sandra was an active member of the outreach team at SWUAV (Sex Workers United Against Violence Society). The team maintains regular contact with sex workers in known sex work areas, primarily in the DTES. The team distributes condoms, harm reduction supplies and violence prevention information.

Members of the team work in pairs, and everyone wanted to be paired with Sandra, DJ says.

Sandra also worked at The Washington Community Market (177 E. Hastings St.), where she was a welcome face at the grocery and sundry store—which supplies pensioners and community members on limited incomes with affordable products in small portions. The store has been serving DTES residents for more than 25 years, creating low-barrier training opportunities for women in the community struggling to overcome poverty and addiction.

“It’s hard to go there without her there,” says DJ, “Sandra could read us like a book—better than we could read her.”

A memorial for Sandra was held Jan. 21 at Glenhaven Memorial Chapel.

About 100 people were in attendance, including family members, friends and DTES service providers who worked with and alongside Sandra.

Many spoke about how she put other people first.

SWUAV colleague Julie Chapman, who is also a Megaphone vendor, wrote the following tribute for her late friend:

Sandra's Poem

Sandra was our friend and Sandra was our sister

Now she is gone and everyone will miss her


Sandra was always a very hard worker

Now the Creator has gone and took her


She was with SWUAV for many years

Taken unexpectedly she leaves behind her peers


So many people who cared for our sis

Sandra was our friend, who we all will miss


Sandra will forever be in our lives

Her compassion for others will be our guides 

Get on your megaphone

Share this:
Be the first to comment
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
312 Main St
Vancouver, BC
V6A 2T2