The Sunday Magazine·The Sunday Edition

Meet the Street Thug Barbers of Vancouver

They're a loose group of guys with big hearts who've stared down hard times and addiction. They give back by offering free haircuts — with a side order of human contact — to people living on the streets in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Theresa Lalonde's documentary is called "The Kindest Cut."
(Street Thug Barbers)

A couple of years ago, Ross Wilson was having a hard time. Actually he was a mess, completely broke, sleeping on his mothers floor, a trained hair cutter "between jobs". He carried his clippers with him everywhere, in case someone called him up for a work interview.

One day, in Vancouver's roughest neighbourhood, a man sitting on the curb asked Ross for change. He had none to give and offered a free hair cut instead.  When it was done, the man said thank you, and told Ross it was the first time all week anyone had spoken to him.

Ross Wilson took to walking around with a milk crate as his barber's chair offering a cut to any who wanted one.

He still does it — although now on his day off from work. And he's enlisted a few friends.

They call themselves the Street Thug Barbers. They are big and tattooed and not easily intimated by anything that happens on the Downtown Eastside. They all have their own stories.

Every Sunday morning, they drag a bunch of rickety chairs onto half a block of sidewalk on Powell Street, and do their thing.  Almost ten thousand cuts in the last year and a half.

Theresa Lalonde went down to Powell Street a few weeks ago. Her documentary is called "The Kindest Cut."

Click the button above to hear the documentary. 

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