Employ To Empower

A Day in the Life Of…


What Is The


“A Day in the Life of” – recognizes that there is a stigma that exists about those who live, work, play and access services in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). We recognize that a stigma generalizes an entire population to a single understanding, an assumption, a detrimental stereotype. The members of the DTES community are socially denounced to a singular negative stigma, that everyone in the DTES is experiencing homelessness, addiction, low-income, and mental health. For those who are experiencing these things, are looked down upon and seen in a negative and harmful light.

What is missed – the passion, innovation, and connection thriving in this community-oriented group. A stigma overshadows the uniqueness and worthiness of the individual human experience, recognizing that an individual’s life situation is often circumstantial rather than choice. With that being said, to shift a stigma, we must begin to understand that each individual lives a unique life, where differences are seen on a daily basis.

This project aims to share this missed perspective to humanize the experiences of those living with barriers in the DTES community, in an effort to shift the stigma that exists.

Showcased Entrepreneurs

Three Employ to Empower entrepreneurs share their journeys and overcoming adversities.

Serena Cripps

Serena Cripps

Serena Cripps is a storyteller and insightful peer support worker who’s passionate about delivering authentic peer support to the community. Her business, Aneres Wholistic Wellness, is a trauma-informed, recovery-oriented holistic service.

During your consultation, Serena will sit with you to see the big picture to reframe your focus and mindset from a medical perspective. For 16 years, She has been on her recovery journey to wellbeing.

Serena is known for her current role as Peer Support Worker at Eastside Works, Ambassador at Dress for Success Vancouver, and the 2015 Inaugural Inspiration Award recipient.


Julie Melanie Ruiz-Tagle

Julie Melanie is the creative mind and nurturing soul behind Enviro Bag Evolution. A trained seamstress, Julie Melanie creates hand-made storage bags for disabled people who use a variety of mobility aids.

photo of mikaela

Mikaela Fyfe

Mikaela Fyfe started her business because she wanted to create a fun, safe & non-judgmental environment in a Waxing/Hair Removal studio, complimented with an appreciation for music & highlighting Mental Health.

BYOV wants to bridge the gap between mental health services, and give back to the community.

BYOV’s values are quality, inclusivity, & genuine authenticity, Combining Waxing, Vinyl Appreciation & Mental Health is what sets her apart because she believes in treating others well, being a good listener & knowing music is the one thing we all universally love.


Our Filmmakers

Conor Provenzano

Conor Provenzano

Conor Provenzano is a professional filmmaker and photographer based on the unceded Coast Salish territories known as Vancouver. Over the last ten years he has worked on a wide-range of collaborations in live theatre, museum exhibitions, dance films and educational programs. Central to his art practice is a commitment to contemplative discipline, social liberation and eco-justice. Conor recently co-edited “SOUL OF THE FRASER,” a BCIT funded documentary about threats facing the Fraser River Estuary, and is distributing his first feature-length documentary about the nature and value of attention, called “Focused Life.”

Pauline Adalid

Pauline Adalid

Pauline Adalid is a Filipina filmmaker and multimedia producer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Pauline works in the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil Waututh Nations. With training in journalism and nonfiction, her work gravitates towards themes exploring environmentalism, generational narratives, and women’s narratives.

She has a 3-year professional experience in the field – currently working as Community Coordinator for Student Energy, a not-for-profit, environmental youth-led organization empowering the next generation of climate and energy leaders. She also worked as a Video Journalist for ABS-CBN, a media broadcasting company in the Philippines, working under News Digital Media where she gained significant experience documenting current events for the digital platform.

She is a member of DOC BC and Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) based in British Columbia.

Sam Neufeld

Sam Neufeld

Sam Neufeld is a videographer and filmmaker who has worked in many different fields,ranging from sports to documentary. He works with the Vancouver Canadians baseball team as a videographer and shot video for the 2022 Vancouver Open. Sam has experience in various camera positions on feature films, and has worked on many short films, including on The Cardboard Project 3.0 with Employ to Empower in 2021. Originally from Manitoba, Sam was raised on a grain farm before moving to Kamloops, B.C., where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Thompson Rivers University. Afterwards, Sam moved to Vancouver, B.C. to begin a career in video.


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