Shel­ley Shep­pard

Vancouver Magazine - - Cover Story -


Mom on a Mis­sion In Premier John Hor­gan’s o ce, on a shelf be­hind the desk, there is aphoto of Baby Mac, the 16-month-old boy who died in Jan­uary at an un­li­censed day­care in Van­cou­ver. The photo stands not only as a re­minder of the NDP’s prom­ise to cre­ate an a‚ord­able li­censed child care sys­tem for all but also as a tes­ta­ment to the strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion of Mac’s mother, Shel­ley Shep­pard. One week af­ter her son died, Shep­pard har­nessed her grief and called for “mas­sive re­form” of the prov­ince’s day­care sys­tem. She and her part­ner, Chris Saini, wrote an open let­ter in which they said they didn’t want their “sweet boy’s death to have been in vain.” Judg­ing by the gov­ern­ment re­ac­tion, it wasn’t.

In March, Ot­tawa an­nounced it would give B.C. $90 mil­lion a year to help to ad­dress the child care cri­sis. By April, a‚ord­able li­censed child care had be­come a key is­sue in the lead-up to the pro­vin­cial elec­tion. The $10-a-day child care cam­paign was gain­ing signiŒcant trac­tion and the NDP promised to make it are­al­ity—al­beit grad­u­ally, over 10 years—if elected.

“Her will­ing­ness to ad­vo­cate for change is in­spi­ra­tional and I know has made a di‚er­ence,” Sharon Greg­son, spokes­woman for the $10-a-day cam­paign, said of Shep­pard. “Her staunch sup­port for build­ing a bet­ter sys­tem so that her tragedy does not hap­pen for other moth­ers is heroic.”

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