Thanksgiving with war resister Rodney Watson

Downtown Eastside: 40 years of organizing, activism & resilience

“the Pulse” @ Vancouver Co-Op Radio, CRFO 100.5 FM, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter 

The Downtown Eastside has for decades been a site not only of poverty and struggle, but also “resilience” and successful community organizing, says Libby Davies. And the former Member of Parliament hopes the community can remember to celebrate and honour the successes and victories over the years as the struggle continues.

That’s particularly true as demands for reforms and solutions to the neighbourhoods multiple crises gain urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a growing number of media reports focusing on violence, desperation and injustice.

Former Vancouver-East member of Parliament Libby Davies talked about decades of organizing history marking the 40th anniversary of how the community rallied to save the Carnegie Centre from closure, turning it into a vibrant neighbourhood hub to this day. Davies was an early organizer with the since-defunct DTES Residents Association (DERA), which was shuttered following financial scandals in the 2000s, with some of its operations resurfacing as the Portland Hotel Society.

Davies shared some of the history of organization in the DTES with The Pulse on CFRO, about her upcoming book, and crediting the decades of activism and leadership shown by groups such as the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and the Women’s Memorial March Committee, among many others.

Top photo credit: Libby Davies (in orange apron) at 2011 Thanksgiving with war resister Rodney Watson by Kim Elliot/rabble.ca via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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