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It’s Not Just the Overdose Crisis, -- People Die of Poverty
This is the 9th in the series of reports “Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: Past and Present.” The Downtown Eastside is a neighbourhood with severe issues, amongst them, poverty, homelessness and drug overdose, all of which have intensified with the pandemic.
Earlier this week LJI journalist Jase Tanner met with 3 people who have made significant contributions to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Karen Ward is a resident of the neighbourhood, a drug user and a consultant to the city of Vancouver on drug policy, Jean Swanson, a decades long activist and city councillor in Vancouver and Libby Davies who has been with us before. Her participation started with the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, she later went on to become a city councillor and then the MP for the area.
Their conversation covered a number of topics. Amongst them, Karen spoke to us about life in the community and the challenges that are faced by residents. Jean Swanson shared her point of view on how the city is responding to the needs of the Downtown Eastside. Libby Davies spoke about defunding the police.
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.