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Yohannes Kebede, owner of Johnny Barber Shop in Edmonton, and a staff member who wishes to remain anonymous, offer haircuts while Hannadi Shtay, far left, performs free nail cleaning for a resident of the Salvation Army Shelter/Transitional house in Edmonton on Aug. 19.Dickson Obasuyi/The Globe and Mail

A year after he immigrated to Canada from Nigeria in 2013, Dickson Obasuyi arrived in Edmonton with no money and no job.

He moved into a downtown homeless shelter, the Salvation Army Edmonton Centre of Hope, waking up early every morning to search for temporary construction jobs.

After four months, he was able to save up enough money to move into an apartment of his own and now works for the province with a photography business on the side.

Earlier this year, Mr. Obasuyi began planning to give back to the shelter that once helped him by offering to take portraits of the shelter’s residents.

“Homelessness is a cause that is dear to me,” he said. “It is something no one wishes or plans for, but circumstances can make people get into it.”

Brian, top, and Graham, above, sit for a portrait by fashion photographer Dickson Obasuyi at the Salvation Army Shelter/Transitional house.The Globe and Mail

On Aug. 19, Mr. Obasuyi teamed up with Yohannes Kebede, the owner of Johnnie Barber Shop and Salon, staff of The Barbers Shop and nail artist Hanadi Shtay to help a dozen shelter residents prepare for the photo shoot.

The barbers gave them free haircuts, while Ms. Shtay provided nail cleanings at no cost. Edmonton’s deputy mayor, Jennifer Rice, stopped by during the event to thank the shelter for its work.

Mr. Obasuyi plans to edit and print the portraits and give them to residents as a way to bring hope and dignity to those who are still trying to find affordable, permanent housing – as he was years ago – and to thank the shelter staff who helped him along the way.

“If not for them, I wouldn’t have been able to find my feet and be where I am today, where I am able to afford my own place and have a stable job and come this far,” he said.

Written by Globe Staff

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