Susan Heyes: No retreat, no regrets

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from The Vancouver Observer

hazel

Susan Heyes

Last week, in anticipation of the opening of the Canada Line, Linda Solomon talked with Susan Heyes, owner of the Hazel and Co. maternity clothing shop, about how she was able to stand up against the government and builders and demand compensation when construction sent her business into decline.

Heyes sued three levels of government, two government agencies and the company building the line, after construction work on Cambie Street crippled her life’s work. Heyes said she lost $900,000 and had to remortgage her home because construction discouraged people from shopping at her store.

VO: How did you find the internal strength to wage a confrontation with some of the biggest powers in Canada?

HEYES: I’ve thought about this time and time again. I think the core of who I am as a person is a result of my upbringing. My parents taught me that you have to play fair, treat people with respect and that when somebody hurts you, you go to someone and seek help. In this case, I was in despair because I’d go to the place where I thought I’d get help and that group or organization turned out to be working with the people who were doing this wrong. Many people just saw it as a losing battle to begin with, you can’t fight city hall. I also looked at my daughter’s beautiful face every day and thought how dare they take away what I’ve built up over 25 years and also my legacy to my girl. It’s so wrong on every level. The more they fought me, the more I stood my ground.

VO: So partially, you did it for your daughter?

HEYES: I’m still not used to the media spotlight. I find it really intrusive and feel like it’s been a total invasion of my privacy. I remember always telling my daughter that if you or any of your friends are being picked on at school, you go tell someone, come to me, work it out, and find a solution. If somebody’s being abusive, you have to stand up for yourself. I felt bullied and thought it was wrong on every level and the bullies shouldn’t away with it. I was trying to practice what I was preaching. I wanted her to be proud of me.

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