A work in progress.   This series is an exploration of contrasts in the city I live in, Vancouver.


Vancouver, touted as one of the most liveable cities in the world is a breathtaking and beautiful place to call home.  The worlds perception of my city is one coloured by its beautiful location; surrounded by the beautiful Pacific ocean and snow capped stunning mountains.   What is not to love?  You can go paddle boarding in the morning and skiing in the afternoon?


But like most things in this world, there is more than just this side to it. Vancouver is a city of contrasts.  And I live somewhere amid the shadows.  Vancouver has the unenviable title of being the 3rd least affordable city in the world to live it.   She also houses within her limits one of the most under served and poor communities in any developed nation, the Downtown East-side (DTES).  


Just a few blocks from my home, this neighborhood is perceived as the dark and seedy side of beautiful, flashy Vancouver, Canada.  Demographics show that it is a neighbourhood plagued with the highest incidences of poverty, addiction, violence, crime, sex trade, homelessness, unemployment, mental illness and HIV and Hep C infection rates.  But as a resident of the city, that isn't how I see it.  I see some of the best parts of Vancouver in this community.   The resilient parts of this city, where some of the best stories and people come from.  Usually this story is one marked by a solitary existence, a history of societal marginalization and neglect, and a present rife with hazards typical only to those living in the slums of the world.


The DTES has traditionally been home to the disenfranchised and poor residents of Vancouver. At almost 70%, the proportion of low-income individuals and families in the DTES is almost triple that of the regular Vancouver populace. Despite the obvious challenges rife throughout this community, the truth is, if you look beyond them all, the DTES is a community rooted in a magical combination of resilience, community advocacy and character. Non-traditional supports abound, while connection and community thrives in this the least likely of places.  In my Vancouver  kinship, humanity and joy are the measures of prosperity, and by those standards the DTES is a rich place.


All images in this series are shot throughout my Vancity; the contrast I see in it, the amazing people I meet in my day to day travels; and the changes I am see in it.


© Marta Musa Artist 2010 - 2020



  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle