EVENT | Policing the Crisis in Vancouver


SFU Institute for the Humanities and The Mainlander


Policing the Crisis in Vancouver

Tuesday, April 29th  7:00pm
Please note location change to Wosk Centre for Dialogue
Room 420, Wosk Centre for Dialogue SFU, 580 W. Hastings St.
(enter building on the Seymour Street side)

Panel discussion with:

Cecily Nicholson
Jennifer Allan
Aiyanas Ormond & Lorna Bird
William Damon

As neoliberal governments continue to de-fund basic social services, policing takes a more prominent role in urban governance, filling the vacuum of the welfare state while managing the crisis of urban poverty. In Vancouver, gentrification and the affordable housing shortage continue to worsen, but the crisis has arguably moved from being a housing crisis to a broader social crisis. In a context of municipal austerity and service cut-backs, the annual budget of the Vancouver Police Department has increased from $180m in 2008 to $235m in 2014. While this broad trend is shared by most if not all late capitalist societies, its worst effects are exacerbated in the specific context of colonial Vancouver, where Indigenous people and people of visible minority are disproportionately circulated through the criminal justice system. Inequality, homelessness, and ongoing colonial relations continue to take their toll on the bodies and minds of Vancouver’s most marginalized residents. The resulting social crisis, however, has in turn become a pretext for urban policing. The so-called “mental health crisis” has been used as a core justification for increased police funding, including full-time officers on mental health ACT teams. The purpose of this panel is to put the entire paradigm of policing, as a cornerstone of 21st century urban neoliberalism, under the political microscope.


CECILY NICHOLSON is the administrator of Gallery Gachet and has worked with women in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver since 2000. Her work, both creative and social, engages conditions of displacement, class, and gender violence.

JENNIFER ALLAN is a long-time Vancouver and DTES activist. She advocates for survival sex workers safety, prisoners rights, Native rights, and is best known for highlighting police violence in marginalized communities. In 2004 she started Jen’s Kitchen, an advocacy, outreach and food relief service for DTES survival sex workers, single mothers, victims of domestic violence, and women released from prison.

LORNA BIRD is a leading social justice advocate and activist against the drug war in the Downtown Eastside. She is board member of the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, a past president and treasurer of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and past president of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society.

AIYANAS ORMOND works as a community organizer for the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users. He is also part of a radical alliance of health workers and advocates called the Alliance for People’s Health. His essays on criminalization and mass incarceration have been published in BASICSnews.ca and in the journal Radical Criminology

WILLIAM DAMON is an MA candidate in Human Geography at SFU. He researches Canada’s drug policy and justice reform initatives. In his spare time he writes freelance for Megaphone Magazine.


This event takes place on unceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Stó:lō and Tsleil-Waututh Nations

Please RSVP to Sandra Zink (sgz@sfu.ca) if you are planning on attending this event

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