It’s not just the overdose crisis — people die of poverty

This is the ninth in the series of reports “Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: Past and Present.”

The Downtown Eastside is a neighbourhood with severe issues, among them, poverty, homelessness and drug overdose, all of which have intensified with the pandemic.

Earlier this week I met with three 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 is a decades-long activist and city councillor in Vancouver. Libby Davies’ participation started with the Downtown Eastside Residents Association; she later went on to become a city councillor and then the MP for the area.

Our conversation covered a number of topics. Among 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.

Watch the full series here.

Jase Tanner has worked in the film industry for 30 years where he frequently serves as a shop steward. During this time he’s been active in social justice issues and has produced a handful of short, web-based documentaries.