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Humans of VanCity: Student-run project spotlights Vancouver voices

The beauty of Vancouver through the eyes of its people.
Among the locals whose stories are shared on the student-run online platform Humans of VanCity are these "sustainability ambassadors." The website offers the chance for Vancouverites from all walks of life to share their life stories to help locals get to know each other better

A student-led non-profit organization is providing a platform for Vancouverites to share their stories.

Humans of VanCity, founded and operated by high school students, promotes the diverse voices of Vancouver through interviews, stories, and photos.

Founded by Hugo Lam and Max Ng, Humans of VanCity was inspired by Humans of New York, a photoblog of street portraits and interviews from New York City.

“We understand that Vancouver is really diverse and we want to promote it and show everyone that there is a different story behind each person," Humans of VanCity co-founder Hugo Lam tells V.I.A.

The platform is a way to 'learn about other people' in the community

Lam and Ng created a similar project for their high school, and interviewed teachers, custodial workers, and students, as a way of helping everyone on campus get to know each other. 

Next came the idea to make the project city-wide. 

“Through the school project, we brought everyone together and it created a sense of diversity and inclusion. We wanted to expand that to the greater Vancouver community," shares Ng.

Ng feels that since COVID-19, there has been a huge disconnection in the whole Vancouver community and sees Humans of VanCity as a way to address that issue.

“Our project is very important as we share everyone’s story so Vancouverites can learn about other people,” says Ng.

Lam notes how perspective is an important aspect of the project.

“I read the news and see the world being polarized and divided and I just want to contribute to tackling that,” says Lam.

“We want to see how we can be more understanding towards each other and understand each person’s perspective.”

Stories on Humans of VanCity

So far, Ng and Lam have interviewed people from communities in Kerrisdale, Dunbar, Kitsilano, and Downtown Vancouver. 

“We go to different local shops or community centres and go up to people, talk about our project, and ask if they would be interested in being interviewed,” says Ng.

“Sometimes we reach out to people when we think that they might have an interesting story to share,” adds Lam.

The stories on their website and Instagram are four- to five-minute reads.

The stories include a radio show host turned teacher, a 70-year-old librarian at the Vancouver Public Library, and a local business owner in Kerrisdale.

Ng says that they want the project to grow to a point where people come to them with their stories to share on the platform.