Issue 1, Spring 2015

volcano_1_coverart-chutes_and_ladders_final (1)Cover art by Kathy Shimizu

volcano_glass_cutWelcome to the Volcano!


In the spring of 2012 a group of Downtown Eastside residents and community organizers published the first issue of the Downtown East newspaper. The editors, writers, and publishers were also activists on the ground fighting back against (…)

PrintNew laws will not bring sex workers justice

By Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV)

The Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, also known as SWUAV, is an organization of women who do sex work in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. We have been active in fighting the previous laws surrounding sex work and are devastated to see the direction that the Canadian government has taken with Bill C-36 (…)

mewa-singhMewa Singh’s legacy still relevant

By Gupreet Singh

This year marks 100 years since the hanging of Mewa Singh – the first Indian political activist to be executed in Canada. Associated with the Ghadar Party, a radical group of the South Asian immigrants in North America, Mewa Singh was given the death sentence on January 11, 1915 for assassinating a controversial Immigration Inspector William Hopkinson (…)

welfare-phone_grey1-866 YOU LOSE:  Welfare puts people on hold

By Jean Swanson

I’m imagining a discussion happening in the BC government between Premier Christy Clark and Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell: “How do we keep from spending so much money on welfare?” asks Christy. “I know,” says Michelle. “Welfare rates are already so low that people can’t afford phones so we’ll simply close or reduce the hours in our offices and make people phone when they need help.” “What a great idea,” says Christy (…)


One last chance to save the SRO Hotels

By DJ Larkin and Jean Swanson

Vancouver’s Single Room Accommodation (SRA) Bylaw has been in place for over 11 years and has proven ineffective at protecting affordable housing. The Bylaw was passed in 2003 to protect single room occupancy hotel rooms for low-income tenants, mostly in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. At the time, the City thought they were saving the Single Room Occupancy buildings (SROs) from being turned into tourist hotels. However, the City didn’t foresee the changes that the neighbourhood is going through (…)

varley-gentrification-storm-mapBrief reflections on community displacement and the strategy of “Touching the Corners”

By Herb Varley

Developers see the Downtown Eastside (DTES) as a gold mine of development potential. The city government wants to “revitalize” the area with this real estate development. People of the DTES have built a community out of some of the toughest conditions imaginable and they don’t want to move. The city can’t make the residents disappear overnight. In order to remove the low-income community the city (knowingly or not) has actually used concepts described by a master swordsman (…)

prince-rupert-gas-shipping-digital-sketch_greyBoom, Bust, and No-Go: Development on BC’s North Coast

By Lee Veeraraghavan

Vancouver is blanketed in signs advertising new condominiums – new and better lifestyles! – and on city blocks where they have not yet been erected, placards proclaiming a site’s application for development are common. This is especially true in the Downtown Eastside, where developer-friendly municipal policies have made a humanitarian crisis worse. Housing for the most vulnerable, who are being displaced from their homes onto the street, is treated as an afterthought. But unchecked development and skyrocketing housing prices aren’t just a “Vancouver Special.” (…)

miningandgent_no-goldcorp-at-sfu-students-and-dtes-protest-jan2011_greyMining and Gentrification

By Sean Phipps

The mining company Tahoe Resources is currently being sued in a Vancouver court by seven Guatemalan men who allege they were shot and injured by Tahoe’s security personnel during a protest against the Escobal mine. If you go to 1055 West Georgia Street and ask for Tahoe Resources the security guard will give you a puzzled look. Tahoe lists that address as its Canadian headquarters. However, when I arrive no office can be found. Eventually I am directed to a hole in the wall mailbox operated by the company’s lawyers (…)

bc-housing-selloff_coleman_greyWill junking public ownership of BC Housing make things better for low income people?

By Jean Swanson and Harold Lavender

The BC Government is selling about 350 parcels of land and 9 public housing buildings that it owns and operates. Two of the buildings are major social housing projects, Stamps Place and Nicholson Tower in Vancouver. They haven’t revealed the others yet. BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay told the Carnegie Community Action Project that government estimates the value of these assets at about half a billion dollars. (…)

anti-terror-elsipogtog-oct-17-2013-rcmp-ert-4Canada’s proposed anti-terror act is part of a government campaign to criminalize dissent

By Ivan Drury

On January 30, 2015 the Conservative government introduced Bill C-51, an omnibus bill (a single Bill that will impact many laws and policies) that the media refers to as Canada’s “anti-terrorism” act. It has provoked widespread opposition, even from unusual suspects like billionaire media mogul Conrad Black, and right wing talking head Rex Murphy who usually support Prime Minister Harper. Their main concern is that the Bill would increase the power of Canada’s spy agency CSIS to surveil “ordinary Canadians” in their quest for what the Bill calls “total information awareness.” But what is an “ordinary Canadian” and who does this Bill actually target? (…)

sha-fiery-file_protest-in-ndp-office_greyThe Fiery File: A vision for organizing action against displacement in 2015

By Social Housing Alliance

The Social Housing Alliance formed in the lead-up to the provincial election of 2013 to face the imminent threat to social housing programs in British Columbia. Since the economic and political world order known asneoliberalism began in the mid-1980s, Canada’s social housing programs (funded during the postwar social democratic days through tax dollars levied by all three levels of government) have been gutted, wrecked and tossed on the pile of those social goods sacrificed to the market gods. As a result, since the BC Liberal government has brought its neoliberal program to the province in 2001, homelessness has gone up about 300% (…)

abbotsford_codyoday_mackenzieskorepa_cbcnewspic-copy“There is No camping here. It’s time to move on. Thanks.”

By Dave Diewart

These words were on the note Cody O’Day and Mackenzie Skorepa found attached to their tent in Ravine Park in Abbotsford. Their tent was turned upside down, the poles were broken, their mattress was deflated, and the stove lay on the ground. The camouflage covering hiding the tent had been dismantled as well, exposing their vulnerable circumstances for all to see (…)

malcolmx_at-his-bday“You’re still in prison”: Malcolm X and the US prison industrial complex

By Cecily Nicholson

This February 21st communities gathered to honour the legacy of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Malcolm X, on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. “Don’t be shocked when I say I was in prison,” he often told his audiences. “You’re still in prison. That’s what America means: prison.” (…)

hogans_alley3_greyHogan’s Alley and Gentrification

By Wayde Compton

The situation of the current site of what was once Hogan’s Alley is complicated. That part of town was once a key site for Vancouver’s black community, featuring many of its most enduring cultural institutions. With the possible removal of the viaducts and discussions of sale and development in that part of town, my concern is that the black community is collectively acknowledged and that some sort of space for the black community of today is reserved there in perpetuity. That would be the right thing to do (…)

solitary_confinement_greyNew lawsuit challenges use of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons

By Stacey Bishop

In January 2015 the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the John Howard Society filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada challenging the use of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons. The lawsuit charges that solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment, leads to prisoner suffering and deaths, and is discriminatory against prisoners with mental health illnesses and Aboriginal prisoners (…)

rally-against-towers-victoria-_-tony-sprackettFiery Displacement from View Towers

By Shane Calder

At 7 am on the morning of May 15, 2014, a fire broke out in a suite of the infamous View Towers in Victoria, British Columbia. The fire was visible from the street with flames shooting out the window of the ravaged suite, provoking a building wide evacuation and causing many of the predominately low-income residents to flee the building with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. (…)

kingmongThe Chinatown Shockwave

By King-mong Chan and Wilson Liang

Redeveloped in 2009, anti-poverty activists have described the Woodward’s project as creating a ripple effect of gentrification throughout the Downtown Eastside. This redevelopment project at Abbott St. and West Hastings St. brought in 536 condos and despite including 125 welfare-rate units for singles and 75 social housing units for families, the ripple effect led to various negative consequences for the existing community. (…)

naverone-woodsWe Demand Answers:  Family Statement read at a Public Vigil for Naverone Woods on February 28, 2015

By the family of Naverone Woods

On December 28, 2014, 23-year-old Naverone Christian Woods was shot and killed by a female member of the Greater Vancouver Transit Police at the Safeway at 104 Avenue and King George Highway in Surrey, B.C. Nav was clearly upset and distraught. He was not himself despite what the media says. He was not suffering from a mental illness. The family strongly denies these rumours. (…)

phuong-na-du-memorial_grey1Honouring the Life of Phuong Na (Tony) Du

By the family of Phuong Na Du

On November 22, a great tragedy befell our community one that has made us all question what is right and what is wrong. In the aftermath, a mother lost her son, brothers and sisters lost their sibling and the world was deprived of a gentle soul (…)


canadian-refugee-camp-graphSeeking Refuge

By Karla Lottini

Fear, silence, distrust, isolation, mental distress, poverty, debts, helplessness, sleepless nights, and self-doubt—these are the characteristics of being a refugee in Canada. I am a Mexican writer and journalist, but I could be a Palestinian refugee running from violence and occupation, or a Latin American migrant farmworker who has had to leave her motherland because of starvation-level poverty. My husband and I came in 2008 to Vancouver as refugees after I uncovered corruption in the federal cultural institution in Mexico. (…)

transponotdepo-copyPublic Transit not a Border Checkpoint: Interview with Omar Chu of the Transportation Not Deportation Campaign

By Dave Diewart and Omar Chu

Volcano: What was the motivating issue that launched the Transportation not Deportation Campaign?
OC: Sanctuary Health and No One Is Illegal were hearing reports from people in detention that transit police were referring people to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), and David Ball wrote an article for the Tyee on transit police collaboration with immigration (“Transit Police Report Rider to Immigration Nearly Every Day,” July 10, 2014). So these groups started working together to try to figure out what was going on (…)

amit-sfu-copyFamilies facing displacement from SFU housing

By Ivan Drury

When Teresa Dettling noticed that Simon Fraser University’s administration had closed applications for the huge campus residence she lives in, she started to worry. Maintenance responses to calls to fix simple problems had gotten slower and slower. Administration had shut down part of the building due to mould and unspecified “health hazards.” More than half of the building’s 209 units were vacant. Teresa contacted building management to ask what was going on. They told her administration is unofficially “advising families to move out.” She realized SFU is planning to demolish the Louis Riel House (…)


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