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N.B. artist working to change conversation around those without a permanent home
FREDERICTON, N.B. -- A young New Brunswick artist is working to change the conversation around those without a permanent home.
Growing up in Moncton, artist Jamie LeBlanc says she was repeatedly told the same thing about the homeless population.
“That I shouldn't give them money because they'll use them for drugs and that if they wanted a job, then they'd go get one,” says LeBlanc.
That narrative did not sit well with LeBlanc.
“I'd wonder why they were so shamed, I guess, why they shunned from the community in a sense,” says LeBlanc.
“I saw them as just people, because that's what they are, they're just people.”
Now a fine arts student at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, LeBlanc’s curiosity about those without a permanent home has made its way into her work.
“These humans are people, they have personalities, they're not just homeless,” says LeBlanc.
St. John House is a men’s homeless shelter in Fredericton. When LeBlanc began volunteering there, she would just sit and talk with the men. Eventually some of them allowed her to sketch them.
“Phillip was the first guy I painted and he's very kind to me. He came up and we just talked about philosophy for hours,” says LeBlanc.
LeBlanc’s sketches are now on display at Tipsy Muse Café in downtown Fredericton.
“When this project came to our attention, we knew that it was something that we wanted to share with the community. It's important to us,” says Krista Touesnard, co-owner of the Tipsy Muse Café.
“We have a lot of people that come in and out of the café that can’t necessarily afford to just sit down and have a nice cup of coffee, and they stay anyway.”
Leblanc hopes to sell the sketches and give the money back to the shelter. Most of all, she hopes the portraits will spark conversations.
“They shouldn't be shamed or ignored for what stereotypes surround them,” says LeBlanc.