These beautiful portraits salute the unsung efforts of caregivers

These beautiful portraits salute the unsung efforts of caregivers

Barack Obama. Queen Elizabeth II. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Christopher Wahl‘s subjects are usually household names. While the people in his Faces of Caregiving series are not famous or powerful, their portraits and stories still feel familiar. Spouses, children, siblings and parents, they are a tiny sample of the eight million Canadians who care for their family members. To mark National Family Caregiver Day on April 5, national healthcare provider Saint Elizabeth and its caregiver support arm Elizz—which provides in-home services, caregiving coaches and nurse advisors—partnered with Wahl to create the series. The shots are intimate, dignified and quietly emotional. Here, the stories behind eight of the portraits.


Justin, Brenda and Christopher Lucas

Christopher: “I don’t really think of myself as a caregiver. I’m a brother. Justin has given me far more than I could ever return. I tattooed his name on my right ring finger to honour him as one of the most important people in my life—probably the only tattoo our mom will ever approve of.”



Alexandra and Eleanor Campbell

Alexandra: “When I was my mother’s primary caregiver, it was challenging and often overwhelming to manage multiple priorities: working full-time, looking after my children, making sure that my mother had the support she needed to be able to stay in her own home for as long as possible.”



Key, Mary Ann and Bonnie Kim

Bonnie: “Dad’s stroke four years ago changed everything, including our relationship with him. There’s nothing we haven’t done taking care of him. With the help of daily support workers, he’s able to live at home with his wife, who is his primary caregiver. It can’t be easy watching his daughters care for him the way he did for us, but he has coped with remarkable grace and dignity. He’s a rock star.”



Marv Kuttner and Joanne Sacks

Joanne: “After my mom passed away two years ago, my father’s health started to decline. I remember looking at him and not seeing the man he used to be—he was no longer a strong, vivacious and boisterous man. He needed me to look after him. But as a mother of two young children, it felt natural to take care of my dad.”



Peggy and Mae Rankin

Peggy: “My mom is one of the most important people in my life. Being her caregiver is not something I really thought about—I just did it. Some days are more challenging than others, but ultimately I consider it a great honour to be able to care for her.”



Patricia and Kevin Malone

Patricia: “I’ve always been Kevin’s protective older sister. His accident in 1987 changed a lot of things, but Kevin still has his sense of humour, and his love for coffee and doughnuts. No matter where we’re going or what time of day, if we pass a coffee shop, we stop. It’s tough work being a caregiver to both him and our mom, but it also gives me great pride.”



Maria and Rafaella Korre

Rafaella: “I am blessed to still have my mother in my life. Her illness has changed who she is, but I am honoured to help her the way she so often helped me and my family in the past. It’s difficult caring for a sick relative, but when done with love, it’s easier to handle.”



Carol Anne and Bill Alloway

Carol Anne: “We’ve been married 30 years. Four children, seven grandchildren and five operations later, he is still the love of my life.”


More photo essays


April 5, 2016

A previous version of this post included an incorrect spelling of Joanne Sacks' first name.