EDITORIAL. This year marks 100 years since the dispossession of the Kitsilano Reserve. Today also marks the renewed displacement and dislocation of diverse communities in East Vancouver, with the intensification of  land struggles in Grandview-Woodlands and the Downtown Eastside, two areas of the city with diverse indigenous communities. This article argues that the 1913 destruction of the Kitsilano reserve is connected to the present through a past that has, in fact, never been resolved.

False Creek Indian Reserve, Granville and C.P.R. Kitsilano bridges, the McCreery and Johnston residences and a cannery ca. 1880 [1]

In 1971, the Downtown Eastside was officially designated a “historic area” in the City of Vancouver. In addition to neighborhoods like Shaughnessy — which for decades received special status for planners and politicians — Gastown was singled out as a founding neighborhood of the city. Today Gastown is the epicentre of city-backed revitalization, pushing into neighbouring areas DTES and Grandview Woodlands,  with a concerted attempt by planners to make the old into the new. The attempt to repackage the past, however, makes the real stakes of history more relevant than ever.

Despite attempts, it is impossible to understand the past and present of the city without foregrounding colonialism. Today the area between Victoria and Cambie, roughly encompassing the DTES and Grandview-Woodlands, has the highest proportion of indigenous people in the city, home to Musqueam, Tsleil-waututh, and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) people as well as others from across Canada: Mohawk, Blackfoot, Cree, Nisga’a, Kwakwaka’wakw people and beyond. With the most recent round of rezonings and local area plans handed down by a pro-developer city hall,  these communities face a renewed experience of dislocation with intimate links to the past.

Yet, in a city that only acknowledges its history through symbols and marketable gimmicks — the Gastown Steam Clock remains a model for popular history — the founding injustice is poised to be repeated. Is it possible for a colonial government to promise healing and reconciliation while the processes of displacement and settlement continue or even worsen? The City of Vancouver has declared 2013 as the Year of Reconciliation, but the present only continues to weigh down on an unfinished past. One small part of this past is the forced displacement of the Kitsilano Reserve 100 years ago, in 1913, a time that is startlingly similar to our own.

A Brief History of the displacement of the Kitsilano Reserve

For the first decades of Vancouver’s colonial history, from roughly 1870 – 1900, Indigenous people lived on and off reserves throughout the city. One urban reserve was the Kitsilano Reserve (Sen̓áḵw) located under the south side of present day Burrard bridge. By 1903 it was estimated that twenty-some families lived on the reserve. In the previous decades the colonial state had forced Indigenous people from the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories onto small reserves throughout the Lower Mainland. But by the early 20th century the colonial powers wanted to expropriate even those small bases of land — including the Kitsilano Reserve.

Motivating the dispossession of native territory in Vancouver was the view that First Nations did not attain the “highest and best use” of the land. That self-benefiting assumption was present in all colonial discourse and planning, and was implemented across British Columbia. The future was foretold when the first settlers, led by Gilbert Malcolm Sproat, arrived in 1860 at Alberni Inlet. There they claimed that the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people “did not occupy the land in any civilized sense, and it lay in waste for want of labour. If labour could not be brought to such land, then the worldwide progress of colonialism, which was ‘changing the whole surface of the earth,’ would be arrested.”[3]

Group near Jericho Charlie’s home on Kitsilano Indian Reserve (Snauq) 1891 [4]

On these terms, several attempts were made by white settlers to appropriate the lands of the Kitsilano Reserve. At a public meeting about the Reserve as early as 1903, white settlers agreed that “the reserve as at present is of no use to anyone, and is moreover an eyesore to the city and an easy resort for criminals.”[5] In an article appearing in the Province, with the heading “Reservation may be ours,” the newspaper echoed the call for displacement. “So far as they are concerned,” the newspaper wrote, “a better provision could easily be made for them at some other place, just as convenient.”[6] The reserve, in the heart of the city, was seen as waste of valuable land that could be used for better and more “practical” uses.

The small population of the Kitsilano reserve unanimously opposed all efforts to displace them. However, within a decade the population was forcibly removed in 1913 by the provincial government. Khelsilem Rivers had a great grandfather who was 21 years old when he was displaced from Sen̓áḵw. Today Rivers is a local Squamish community organizer who focuses on decolonization and Indigenous language revitalization, and he tells the story of displacement vividly: “We had a community that had been for generations living over in the Kitsilano area, over there close to the planetarium and present day Vanier Park. And in 1911 there were eleven families living there, government authorities came in and they told those eleven families: ‘We’re going to give you some cash. You have to get on this barge and we’re going to ship you out and we’re buying the land from you. And if you don’t leave, we’re going to forcibly move you, or kill you.’”[7]

The dispossession of the Kitsilano Reserve, 1913

In 1913 — exactly one hundred years ago from this year — the heads of the families living on the reserve were pressured to sign their own displacement contract in return for petty compensation under threats and intimidation from the provincial government and Attorney General W.J Bowser. Within days the families had to leave their ancestral land for an unknown future. As Rivers put it, “they got put on the barge, and the barge was pushed out into the ocean.”[8]  With the eviction of Kitsilano reserve, Bowser proclaimed that the “eyesore to the citizens of Vancouver for many years and hindrance to the development of the city” was finally gone. Significantly, he added that the dispossession marked “one of the best real estate transactions ever carried out in the province.”[9]

Myth of the pioneer hero: from Gassy Jack to Pidgin Restaurant

The Granville townsite, which later became Vancouver, started with an entrepreneurial restaurant run by Jack Deighton (“Gassy Jack”). The Squamish called the area Luck Luck ee (Grove of Beautiful Trees), but by the late 1880s the site was overrun with development, even while the Squamish still camped there. In 1886-7 the Canadian Pacific Railway followed Deighton’s choice of location, extending its line from Port Moody to the Granville Townsite. The CPR line established Vancouver as the core port city on the colonial mainland. A statue of Gassy Jack in the centre of Gastown commemorates his legacy as a colonial pioneer. Despite his lesser-known legacy as a pedophile, having married a 12-year old indigenous girl named Qua-hail-ya, Gassy Jack remains a civic hero to this day.

Cordova Street, July 1886 — names of businesses being rebuilt after the great fire [10]

It is safe to say that when most Vancouverites hear about Gastown and the Downtown Eastside today, it is in the context of gentrification and the struggles raging between existing residents and the owners of high-end restaurants and condo developments. On both sides of the battle, new and old residents draw on their connections — both spoken and unconscious — to the history of their neighbourhood. Citizens who rally behind gentrifying businesses in the Historic Area sense deeply that they are representing the interests of the city, often tied to the spirit of the pioneers who first built Vancouver. As Simon Kaulback, general manager of Boneta restaurant, puts it in an interview with the Gastown Gazette: “This area was the beginning. The people that have inhabited and opened business here are pioneers.”

New citizens in Gastown are materially connected not only to a neighborhood with new shops and expensive restaurants, but to a historic identity of Vancouver with its heritage, culture and values. They are, as Kaulback says, “on the forefront of pioneering a neighbourhood.” In his book The New urban Frontier, Neil Smith has rightly argued that the notion of the urban pioneer is as “arrogant as the original notion of [national] “pioneers” in that it suggests a city not yet socially inhabited; like Native Americans, the urban working class is seen as less than social, a part of the physical environment. [Frederick Jackson] Turner was explicit about this when he called the frontier ‘the meeting point between savagery and civilization,’ and although the 1970s and 1980s frontier vocabulary of gentrification is rarely as explicit, it treats the inner-city population in much the same way.”[11]

When today’s self-styled pioneers tap into the myth of the entrepreneurial frontiersman who paves the way for colonization, they are building on a legacy of dispossession, on the one hand covering up the violence of the past while on the other hand glorifying it. Restaurant owners like Kaulback, Brandon Grosutti or Mark Brand are cultural and ideological icons in today’s food renaissance. But in the context of this history, they are also archetypal figures who embody the meaning and mythology of colonial Vancouver itself.

It is important to remember that the role of the pioneer is ideological.  “Much like a [national]  frontier,” Neil Smith continues, “the gentrification frontier is advanced not so much through the actions of intrepid pioneers as through the actions of collective owners of capital. Where such urban pioneers go bravely forth, banks, real estate developers, small-scale and large-scale lenders, retail corporations, the state, have generally gone before.” Pioneer ideology gives credit to chosen individuals for a process that is in fact systematic and deeply social. By the same token, the larger goals of profit-making would not function without the pioneers who are willing to dispossess and displace.

The Displacement of the Displaced: From Kitsilano to the DTES

The best thing that could happen to the Downtown Eastside is already happening — it’s being cleaned up. As some of the most expensive real estate in Canada, it’s inevitable. Council needs to ignore all voices, no matter how strident or angry, that defend the DTES’s abominable status quo. –The Province Editorial, “The sooner the Downtown Eastside is cleaned up the better,” April 18th, 2012

As Natalie Knight has pointed out recently, each single justification given today for displacement in the Downtown Eastside has already been rehearsed and re-played throughout Vancouver’s history.[12] The dispossession of the Kitsilano Reserve marks a process of double displacement. By removing those who had already been once-displaced onto the urban reserves, this displacement of the displaced initiated a cycle of dispossession and inequality that continues into the present. For the several decades following the eradication of the Kitsilano Reserve, the appropriation of reserve and non-reserve land continued and indigenous people in Vancouver and across British Columbia were forced into prisons, residential schools and foster care.

Today many of the survivors of displacement, racism and multi-generational oppression have found a strong community in the DTES, home to strong Indigenous communities of resistance. Nowhere in Vancouver is displacement more contested than in the DTES, where eviction and incarceration are a part of daily life. Repeated displacement has caused the dislocation of communities, but it has also created strong communities. It is not surprising that the DTES has become a refuge for displaced people throughout Canada and globally, becoming a center of migrant justice.

“Aboriginal and low-income people in the Downtown Eastside understand what forced displacement means,” the DTES Not for Developers Coalition writes on its website. “Many of us have been pushed out of our home communities and into the DTES fleeing high rents and poverty, racial and colonial discrimination, domestic and family abuse, and grappling with addictions and other health struggles…Now, after we have struggled to create safe spaces in a violent world, and belonging out of alienation, we are facing the threat of displacement again.”[13]

Peter Deranger at the Olympic Tent City, 2010

The story of Peter Deranger is one of many displacement stories in the DTES. Peter is a traditional Dene elder who grew up in the 1940s within the land of Treaty 8, spanning Northern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. As a youth, Peter was displaced by the uranium mines used to supply the atomic bombs that would destroy Nagasaki in 1945. Since then, he’s been displaced from his lands continually – once by the tar sands of Fort McMurray, once in the 1970s by the uranium industry of Northern Saskatchewan, and once again by the wildlife extinction caused by the development of the W.A.C. Bennett hydroelectric dam in Northern British Columbia.

“I can’t go back to the paradise of my traditional hunting ground,” says Peter. “If I want a decent house and a decent living [there], I have to be a corporate slave and work for the people who destroy my own land. So I’ve decided to become a refugee, to come to the Downtown Eastside, to live with my people.” Peter’s life is humbling, and his struggles are empowering. They are an active reflection on Natalie Knight’s question: what does it mean to make a subjective decision from within colonial history, “struggling to remain agents in histories and conditions not of our own choosing.”

By gathering as a community in resistance against condo development, displacement, and evictions, the people of the DTES are asking when the cycles of colonization and re-settlement finally come to a halt. By standing in the way of upscale condominium projects and expensive restaurants like Pidgin and Cuchillo, they are posing a simple question: When will the displacement end?

Thank you to Khelsilem Rivers for contributing his knowledge and stories to this article, and thank you to Natalie Knight.


[1] City of Vancouver Archives photograph collection, Reference code: AM54-S4-: Dist P81
[2] City of Vancouver Archives photograph collection, Reference code AM1376-: CVA 1376-203
[3] Cole Harris, Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and Reserves in British Columbia (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002), p. xvi
[4] Vancouver Archives AM54-S4-: In P1.1, Photographer: Matthews, James Skitt, Major
[5] Jean Barman, “Erasing Indigenous Indigeneity in Vancouver,” BC Studies 155 (Autumn 2007): 3-30, 167
[6] The Province/Daily Province, 7 October, 1903
[7] Transcript from “Doin’ it Together: A documentary about the Purple Thistle” by Carla Bergman and Corin Browne: Social Spaces Summit, Purple Thistle, Nov. 2012.
[8] Transcript from “Doin’ it Together: A documentary about the Purple Thistle” by Carla Bergman and Corin Browne: Social Spaces Summit, Purple Thistle, Nov. 2012.
[9] Jean Barman, “Erasing Indigenous Indigeneity in Vancouver” (Ibid.)
[10] City of Vancouver Archives photograph collection, Reference code: AM54-S4-: Str P7
[11] Neil Smith, The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City (London: Routledge, 1996)
[12] “The systems of thought and ideology that result in developers and municipal leaders’ campaigns to continue to displace low-income and homeless people are the same systems of thought and ideologies used to justify colonization and the displacement of North America’s indigenous.” Natalie Knight, “Decolonizing Gentrification: Putting the land back in our class war” (May 2013), presented at the Rent Assembly, Vancouver
[13] This text was part of an invitation to a town hall called “Ending Cycles of Displacement,” hosted in the DTES in November 2012

25 Responses to City of perpetual displacement: 100 years since the destruction of the Kitsilano Reserve

  1. Mary Shaw says:

    People cannot point to the Americans as the ones who disenfranchised the aboriginal peoples of North America. Everybody did it; the British and the French as well, and since Confederation, the Canadians. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU WHO STILL THINK THIS IS RIGHT.

  2. sam george says:

    My grandmother told me about how the Squamish people were robbed of this territory, Put on the said barg then cut loose out at sea by the white tug owners who were paid to bring them to an agreed destination. There is no shame from any goverments. No apologies, no nothing, cause being who they are, they would rather make money then give it out. And thats the only way they think. the almighty dollar.

    • Standing Water says:

      Shame and guilt are worthy only of slaves. Why would any rational person want to be slave to shame/guilt?

  3. Rob says:

    Tremendous article. Very disturbing. Very enlightening. Thank you.

  4. Standing Water says:

    “when the cycles of colonization and re-settlement finally come to a halt”

    Once you idiots finally kill the natural freedom of humans and replace it with nothing more than stasis. Things evolve. Be careful what you wish for. Let’s say we extinguished settler title, gave free title (along with right of alienation) to the very tiny and typically unsophisticated Indian Bands. We’ll ignore how plenty of indians just live on their own, not affiliating with bands, except during infancy, as Indian Bands are things for children, not for free adults. But let’s give it all back. Then within 100 years it will all be sold to Chinese, American, Etc. Corporations.

    Democracy and Universal Enfranchisement are the contemporary way of doing things—that many of you have regressive fascist fantasies about some group with “pure blood” being given the right to rule/have special treatment is disgusting. It is no different than the horrible philosophy that infested Germany’s University system in the lead-up to WWII. The difference is they had the excuse of not having seen the horror of that sort of anti-universalist, anti-cosmopolitan philosophy. You kids have no excuse. So, is it guilt/shame that drives you, or is it some sort of hope that you’d be adopted by our Ruling Overlords if they finally got their “due”?

    • ES says:

      What are you talking about?

      • Standing Water says:

        The imperialist conception of a “true history” presented in this article. Free people are free to decide their history for themselves, without necessarily respecting some authoritarian, hierarchical conception of “veridicality.” One might believe that the purpose of history is to teach moral lessons, e.g. that people are free to perform certain acts and that nobody has more right to land than anyone else. Or someone might not believe in private ownership of lands, only public ownership by all creatures. But that is verboten because that denies “aboriginal title.” Things like that.

        This sort of article is rooted in last century’s appropriation of the colonial education apparatus by putatively anti-colonial, anti-imperialist forces. Their dogmatism and rhetoric, however, shows that they are not, in fact, anti-colonial nor are they anti-imperialist. They are colonialists in the sense that they have a system which they wish to set up, in other people’s minds: that is, they wish to settle in your nervous system and invade it with their propaganda. And they are imperialistic in the sense that the Imperator/Emperor is called Augustus because he always wishes to augment his territory: they do not brook any disagreement. If you disagree with certain of their premises, as is the case with any Imperial system, they will make war on you, which can range from ostracism from social groups to attacks designed to reduce educational/work opportunities. The goal of this war-making is to have the “primitive” and “uneducated” person submit to the “civilized” and “educated” person’s conception of reality.

  5. Nicholas Ellan says:

    I don’t see this article attempting to assert a “true history;” on the contrary it just demonstrates the falsity of the official history, and its ongoing dishonesty, in that it points out how taken on its own terms, it breaks its own rules. Stanley Park, Kitsilano, and now the DTES: each stolen in turn when convenient and the theft whitewashed after the fact by a political apparatus. Identifying the internal contradictions of private property in practice makes no claims about what property title should be in theory.

    • Standing Water says:

      “I don’t see this article attempting to assert a “true history;” on the contrary it just demonstrates the falsity of the official history”

      Seriously? The whole thing is an attempt at a heavy-handed colonial-academic style prescriptive history that people must accept, otherwise they basically “fail.” Absent master-slave relations and grading schemes, why should anyone care about being deemed a “failure” in anyone else’s eyes?

      If the English were to take _their_ “culture” and “history” as seriously as Indigenous people are apparently allowed to, then here is what the English culture, as determined through its Judges, has said:

      “Come si l’ Seignior bate son villein, ou l’ baron sa feme, ou on bate un home utlage ou traitor, ou pagan, ils n’ auront accion, pur ceo qu ilz ne sont pas able de suir action” (12 H. 8 fol. 119)

      “For example, if the Lord beats his villein, or the husband his wife, or one beats an outlawed man or traitor or pagan, they will have no action, because that they are not able to sue an action.” (12 H. 8 fol. 119)

      Sorry if my Norman is a bit rusty, but that is the jist of it—the important thing is that legal actions are, in the context of England since Aethelbirht was baptized, restricted to Christians and possibly Jews depending on statute law.

      Now, that might seem severe—but is it? Everyone can be Christian, all you have to do is get splashed with water, recite a few words, or, these days, if you have a disability, you can go without reciting the words. I have not the foggiest idea what the open path is to join an Indian Band—if I marry an Indian, do I get membership? If I lease lands on reserve do I get some sort of franchise, such that I may vote in band council elections? If my wife (well, OK, I think you can tell I don’t have a wife from my disposition =]) gives birth to a child within the reserve’s limit, is that child a member of the band? If I learn their language, do I gain their hunting rights, or are those restricted in some other way?

      “Identifying the internal contradictions of private property in practice makes no claims about what property title should be in theory.”

      I don’t think I can accept that: the narrative of unjust dispossession is that there is just possession. There is even a picture in the article of people holding weapons on the Kitsilano Reserve. So, there’s what land title grows out of: weaponry. But then we come to the natural law of war: to the victor go the spoils. So, presume war was made to take the land away: why should the descendants of those who conducted a successful war cede the territory on the basis of this flimsy, pseudo-academic psychological warfare that is really quite undemocratic?

      I mean, the kids who’ve gone through the VSB now dogmatically repeat that “this is coast salish territory” line. That was never decided by Parliament, neither federally nor provincially. It is something that the Oligarchy of Education Administrators decided to impose upon the children: essentially using the testing apparatus to advance a particular political agenda re: land title. Want to pass this social studies test? You have to accede to the idea that you (unless you are member of an Indian Band) are basically an “illegal alien.” That is a huge psychological burden. I wonder if that imposed sense of guilt has anything to do with the one-sidedness that seems to dominate this topic.

      • Nicholas Ellan says:

        Your argument begins tenuously, and then collapses in on itself when it bizarrely appeals to the authority of Parliament. If might makes right, why the sudden appeal to formal authority? Shouldn’t you be encouraging the oppressed to take to the streets and seize what they believe to be theirs, not wrapping yourself in the fictions of a colonial government to defend the status quo?

        • Standing Water says:

          “bizarrely appeals to the authority of Parliament”

          And the article makes bizarre appeals to the authority of small inbred kin-groups. That you call it “bizarre” to refer to the authority of Parliament says a lot about your unfortunate education. AFAIK you only got the “new model” education, none of the old, so you likely don’t even know what you were missing, except through the lens of the New Imperialists who believe in Indian Supremacy. Christian Supremacy bad, Anglo Supremacy bad, Indian Supremacy good. Why? Because that is what you were tested on in primary school.

          The problem is that “what they believe to be theirs” is just as fictitious as whatever fictions (typically the English law admits it uses fictions, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard an Indian band admit that _their_ self-regulatory stories are fictions born of moral purpose rather than veridical accounts of Raven/etc.) you think the so-called colonial government uses. The issue is belief, which is likely a species of psychosis, with which we are all afflicted to a degree.

          As for defending the status quo, well, if the status quo is universal enfranchisement, I like that idea. If the status quo is respect for the equality of all humans, not an Animal Farm where “some animals are more equal than others”, then I am all for it. Basically, I cannot countenance supporting a form of Government that would not give me a vote even if I leased lands on its territory. I mean, if an Indian Band wants to claim territory, go ahead. That means every person in the territory gets a vote, if it’s a responsible Government. None of this racist “we wuz here first!!!11111One” (First Post!!111One for our internet users) stuff, everything gets put to a democratic process.

          Suggesting that democracy is some sort of eurocentric colonial fiction is offensive and, in my humble opinion, born more of a poor quality education than anything else.

          • Nicholas Ellan says:

            But if it’s all fictitous and might makes right, you’re contradicting yourself when you appeal to parliamentary democracy as-it-stands in Canada, which is not proportional, fair, or representative. Ultimately your critique melts into a apology for a flawed and corrupt government which is propped up by a first-past-the-post parliamentary regime which is not democratic or representative in any real sense.

          • Standing Water says:

            You’re what they call a “useful idiot,” Nicholas.

          • Kenji says:

            Democracy is great and all, sure.

            I happen to believe that the vast majority of aboriginal people in Canada would be better off in practical terms had the Liberals just gone ahead with the White Paper and blown the Indian Act out of the water. The cognitive dissonance of being both Canadians and First Nations would be gone, and with it the racial apartheid that has seriously (though not absolutely) hindered the integration and advancement of many people. Cultural distinctiveness has not left the Chinese or the South Asians, I believe, despite not having a federal government apartheid to protect it.

            But as you know, Standing, the Parliament didn’t go that way. And we have to respect that. Also, the Supreme Court (an independent judiciary is part of our democracy) has repeatedly confirmed that aboriginal title persists, and that treaty rights exist, albeit permanently bogged in negotiation.

            Therefore, to me it makes no sense to cavil about phrases like “unceded Coast Salish territory” and so on. It’s real. It’s extremely *weird* given that it is 2013 and Canadians are forced to take blood inheritance seriously, like that’s in any way a virtue. But it’s still real. A two-tiered society. (Sigh.)

  6. You missed the role of smallpox and The Indian Act.

    You also could have said a lot more than a mere mention of the role of residential schools.

    You also could have given some numbers, like, prior to contact, there were about 100,000 indigenous peoples (Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish) inhabiting Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, reduced to just a couple thousand collectively (most remarkably, Tsleil-Waututh reduced to just 14) by the time all of these colonial forces intersected together in 1903.

    You know. Just kind of important details in the anti-colonial narrative.

    • Nathan Crompton says:

      Thank you for this comment, and for pointing out the serious limitations of the article. We wrote this short article with hopes of drawing parallels between two events of displacement, tied together by the 100 years. But putting those events briefly under the micrscope does not in itself does not show the deep impacts of colonization from the very beginning. Furthermore, the Indian Act, residential schools and small pox are part of the ongoing and are central to that 100 years, and so your point is valid and appreciated. -Nate

  7. Sean Orr says:

    I don’t see how you can omit Project 200. The fabrication of Gastown history in the 70s (Blood Alley, Steam Clock etc) was a deliberate attempt to save it from a waterfront freeway plan. I can acknowledge the contrivance of so called pioneers but I can also acknowledge that the relationship to frontier narrative is tenuous when you consider that the area was intended to be demolished. The groups that gathered to protest the freeway are some of the same groups that allowed for such a strong community to develop. DERA was one of these groups.

    “This “renaissance” was only made possible by the revolt against urban renewal that began in the late 1960s as Strathcona residents, most of whom were Chinese-Canadian, were joined by academics, students, community organizers, and westside heritage supporters to derail the City’s plans to level the neighbourhood and push a freeway through it (Ley 1994). Yet, by the very same token, it was this same combination of forces that promoted the vision of social housing and services for the poor (Sommers 2001)”.

    • Nathan Crompton says:

      Sean, if I understand your perspective right, you’re saying that once is the right amount of times for the DTES to have been saved from redevelopment (whereas this time would be the second time, and the second time is one too many times?). Is that a right interpretation? But DERA, by contrast, was never happy with resting on the laurels of that historic victory — they kept fighting against eviction beyond the 1970s, and pushed for (and won) social housing all the way though the 90s. So to invoke DERA from your side is not really in good faith, although maybe there’s something in your argument I’m missing.

  8. D. Basey says:

    Despite the fact the writers cobbled together a scattered bag of semi-related historical events, the piece weakly ends with a vague question; so, what next? One would think that if there was a clear narrative (and usable lessons) from the past, that a future solution would be plainly apparent. Many feel the solution might look like this: kick-out everybody who has income and ambition, kick out ‘newcomers’, confiscate land, and create a series of lottery wins by funnelling public moneys, obtained through tax from the wallets and purses of the 99% not in the DTES.

    Back to reality, the best solution (not perfect, but by far the best), is currently occuring; revitalization of legal commerce and replacement of obsolete buildings. There is no other option. It’s just not going to happen. Dream and scream all you want, not going to happen. Not. So if your Plan A is not working out, and will not work out, you’d better have a Plan B.

    • Kenji says:

      Not to put words in the authors’ mouths, but I *speculate san evidence* that the point of dreaming and screaming is not to win a halt on income and ambition, but to play a long game: put a slight traction on development and hope to scrape out a few compromises and band-aids, rather than just lie back and cheerfully let the real estate market have its way with the most vulnerable people in Vancouver.

      I think that there is room in a sane world for that kind of a strategy. Compassion ain’t useless and neither is protest.

      Of course, neither are as useful as actually getting the respect, not just the lip service, of the moneyed class. You do that by acquiring political and/or economic power to get a seat at the table, not simply scrapings from the side of the plate. Chief Clarence Louis of Osoyoos Band, for example, totally gets it.

      But not all of us are a Chief Louis. The Mainlander sure doesn’t speak for the go-getting, wheeling dealing aboriginal person. It seems to advocate a message of blaming and shaming the privileged. And that’s ok.

      • Jim says:

        I don’t think you’re looking at this article in the right context. The logic of industrialized growth is what drove the colonizers to commit genocide through disease, coercion, displacement, and division.
        The same logic has gotten us into an ecological catastrophe. It values immediate economic growth over sustainable ecological balance. This volatile system of privilege is not the sole shame of any individual; our shame should come when we re/cognize that we are perpetuating our own misery and inevitable catastrophe when we rationalize our privilege, or the ongoing genocide (whether or not unconscious) of human cultures and human economies that are far more sustainable and egalitarian in principle.
        Colonizers could have learned more from sustainable cultures; instead they stepped on them and raped the land that hundreds of millions of people lived with sustainably. We can still learn.
        This is not to paint the picture of a pre-Contact utopia. This is to move toward the re/cognition of the destructive logic in a destructive system.
        Blaming and shaming is for the individual to do on h/is/er own time when s/he comes to that re/cognition and re/cognizes h/is/er unconscious perpetuation of the logic of genocide.

        • Kenji says:

          No quarrel with you about the catastrophe-baiting effects of unlimited financial growth. The world is a curious and dangerous place, and humans have to adapt to its horrors including the ones we made ourselves.

          The thing is, I’m in it for the species. I could be all cultural-first and say that I’m in it for the Japanese, or Japanese Canadians, or right handed people from Burnaby. But I couldn’t give half a hump about “my” people. I care about there being people 1000 years from now, and not just cockroaches on a glass ball.

          I have, therefore, maybe a knee jerk (and here, trollish) antipathy to identity politics. I don’t see it as helping anybody. I see it as confining people to the ethnic ghetto that they happened to be born into.

          This doesn’t mean that I am oblivious to the white Christian racism that nearly obliterated aboriginal people in Australia and the Americas, at all. I am, like all not psychotics, against that. But I see the reverse as being no better.

          What we should be against is toxic parenting, FAS, and lack of education. That affects everybody! I don’t want to be Joe Rightwinger here. I just think that race is extremely overrated.

          • The funny thing Kenji, is you say that you say you “care about there being people 1000 years from now, and not just cockroaches on a glass ball.”

            Aboriginal cultures of Canada work hard to sustain lands they never ceded (as this article is suggesting), by blockades and pleading to governments and doing whatever it takes to stop “progress,” the pillaging of resources. This is so that those lands will be there in a 1000 years so that people AND animals can survive and live off of them during that time.

            I am not saying all Aboriginal people of Canada or only about sustainability of resources by not polluting them, but the majority are and it’s a fight that will continue. We want people to be alive in a thousand years as well. Only we want it to be free of pollution and disease.

            The article is meant to make aware of some of the histories that aren’t being represented in the area it discusses.

    • Jim says:

      How is myopia treating you?
      You follow compassion to a logical extreme. That is by no means a solution put forward here. We don’t live in a libertarian capitalist society. It is not inconceivable that concessions could be made for the impoverished-by-situation. The fallacy that we’re all on a level playing field is absurd. You value only GDP but will probably be very sad when your pension is gone and there’s no more social assistance for your ambition/less, income/less old age; at least that will be the case if you continue to legally fetishize ambition and gross production.

  9. Sark says:

    Standing Water is intelligent, and an annoying tool. The two characteristics often go hand in hand.

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