(cross-posted on rabble.ca)
Day 6 was a very busy day! I left the house early and headed downtown to the courthouse to hear the decision of the BC Court of Appeal on InSite and the appeal by the Conservative Government to shut it down. The courtroom was packed – and the decision we all hoped for came in! (http://tinyurl.com/yd6sr47)
Outside in the pouring rain (yes, I know we do tend to go on and on in Vancouver about the rain), there was a big media scrum and I was happy to say a few words about this important victory that will allow the supervised injection site on E. Hastings to stay open. Six years this struggle has been going on!
There was a great feeling of solidarity on the street as activists, the Portland Hotel Society, VANDU, Dr. Montaner, Dean Wilson – the original plaintiff, - and many others like Phillip Owen (former Mayor) and Jenny Kwan MLA, milled about and smiled. I then dashed back to my office and dashed through as much email as I could, and then, as I have for the past five days, headed down to Main and Hastings outside the Carnegie to set up my flip chart, pen etc., to record more comments and experiences from people about homelessness and the urgent need for housing.
And then, amazingly, the sun came out! And the grey blanket rolled away beyond the mountains, and we had sun, sun, sun. Oh, that felt good and everyone rejoiced. A Native elder came up and said “did you turn on the big light switch in the sky,” and we laughed. Megan even bought a new umbrella with her just in case-but she only needed to open it to show us that its design was a blue sky with clouds.
Another fellow from yesterday came back with a poem he had composed – he wrote it on a telephone message sheet and then re-wrote it on the flip chart. I’ve told many folks that all the comments will be written up and I will send them to Ministers and others, for all to see. I will also read as many as I can in Parliament. It is really important to hear people – to listen to their words and experiences – and know they count. So today was a good day – and many people celebrated the victory for InSite as a step for dignity and respect for the human rights of drug users.
Later I went to the re-lighting of the big “W” in the new Woodwards’ development at Hastings and Abbott. It was a very impressive event – music, lots of people, and a sense of history. There are social housing units in the new development, which is great, but also lots of condos. There is anxiety in the community about the impact of Woodwards, and how it will add to the gentrification of the Downtown Eastside, and the displacement of low-income people. Again this is another reason we need new social housing, and for the federal government to pitch in to make sure people are not displaced. I had earlier met some of the folks who had managed to be selected for a new social housing unit in the new Woodwards – they were so happy – and love their new home.
Back home now feeling tired but good – that today was an excellent day.