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Loved Ones Lost: Death of a Downtown Poet – The Tyee

by ahnationtalk on May 19, 201763 Views

Mel Hennan drew a community to him with his art, activism and cheerful embrace of life.

On most mornings for years, Mel Hennan would ride the bus from his residence in the Jubilee Rooms, a single-room occupancy hotel near Main and Cordova, get off on Burrard Street and take a short walk to the Dr. Peter Centre near Nelson Park in Vancouver’s West End. Home to the only HIV/AIDS day health program in B.C., the Dr. Peter Centre initially opened in St. Paul’s Hospital in 1997 and moved to its current standalone location in 2003. Hennan was one of the centre’s first clients. It was a place he described as “A sanctuary. A home away from home,” when he photographed the centre as part of a 2012 photography project.

Hennan would arrive in the morning to eat breakfast and participate in recreation, music therapy, and counselling programs. “Good morning, Mel!” he’d say to recreation therapist Melissa Clave-Brulé. “Good morning, Mel!” she’d reply.

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