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In Conversation - Program Co-ordinator of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society
This is the 7th in the series of reports “Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: Past and Present.” This week we meet Tracy Draper, the program co-ordinator of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society. In addition to her interview, we go out into the alleys of the Downtown Eastside with 3 of their workers as they distribute harm reduction supplies. As Tracy says, the alleys are places where many do not want to go.
Tracy has a compelling presence and the conversation seemed to fly by. A lot of ground was covered as we discussed her personal background and beliefs and what brought her to the organization. She told me about the programs that they offer and what she believes to be the next steps to be taken in order to address the issues that are faced by her community.
In the present day, the Downtown Eastside faces multiple issues all of which have been exacerbated by COVID 19. This is within a population that has been struggling for decades. Amongst these are housing, health; including overdose, mental health and the impact of the pandemic, poverty and homelessness, indigenous reconciliation and policing.
Future episodes will include representatives from various organizations: civic, provincial and grassroots, addressing the task at hand.
The work to be done is not to be underestimated yet the resilience and determination of community members, not commonly recognized, continues to grow. As well as these individuals, we will also be hearing from those who live in the community and call it home.