On November 1st, after 4 months of consultation & deliberation, a provincial committee released a report titled Closing Gaps, Reducing Barriers: Expanding the Response to the Toxic Drug and Overdose Crisis. In response, individuals and organizations have responded in unison to express disappointment, and call for what is truly needed to address the poisoned drug supply underpinning the overdose death crisis: a predictable and regulated supply of drugs accessible to all within a prescriber model and beyond.
This is about context. And in the current context where there is no housing for unhoused people, calls to clean up the streets mean violence – displacement, dispossession, banishment, death.
On July 25, 2022, the Vancouver Fire Service issued an order to decamp the newly-formed tent city of people sheltering outside on Hastings Street. Every year the tent cities continue to grow as the housing crisis worsens. Unhoused people and low-income SRO tenants are now creating an alternative community of survival and mutual support on Hastings Street. Earlier this week the City and VPD began enforcing the Fire Order, with events on Tuesday (August 9) that can only be described as a police riot.
This year, an art exhibit and series of workshops have been organized to recognize International Day Against Police Brutality in so-called Vancouver, on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nations. The show, Honour Their Names, is organized by the Justice For Jared campaign, and is bringing attention to police murder and violence against Indigenous people across the territory colonially known as Canada.
On January 13th, 2022, the tent city at C.R.A.B. Park beat the Vancouver Parks Board in the B.C. provincial court. Their historic win is precedent-setting. Two General Orders that the Parks Board passed banning overnight sheltering in the park were also nullified. How did we get here? What is the violent history of state repression and the counter-resistance that has led to this monumental victory? And where do we go from here?
Two years into the global pandemic, the BC Provincial Health Services Authority’s strategy has become defined by its contradictions. All social gatherings that depend on and feed voluntary community energies are banned. All social gatherings that feed for-profit business markets are encouraged. All industries that drag workers into harm’s way are exempted altogether from restrictions. The buck stops not with the government or business, but with the individual.
For at least a century there have been two Strathconas in Vancouver: the Strathcona of urban elites and the Strathcona of the working class. At important moments in history the second Strathcona – the neighborhood of immigrants, workers, and Indigenous people – has been able to resist, build alternatives, and stand in the way of state and capitalist plans for the area.