Issue 2, Summer 2015


Cover art by Karen Ward


wood-resistance-is-fertileEditorial: Our long summer of evictions begins

By the Editors

When The Volcano editorial collective got together in April to plan this issue we had a different issue in mind than the one you’re holding in your hands. As the summer approached a theme imposed itself on us: the housing and displacement crisis in British Columbia has passed over to a new level – a summer of evictions has begun (…)

pg2_welfare_rates_christys-banner_greyWelfare rates are tough all over

By Phoenix Winter

At a meeting in early May, some MLAs from the NDP told a group of Vancouver activists that low welfare rates are a problem only for those in the Downtown Eastside (…)


Maple Ridge homeless camp faces community hostility

By Dave Diewert

There’s a grassy area and a forested ravine just next to the Cliff Ave cul-de-sac in Maple Ridge that has been the site of homeless camps for over a decade. It’s mostly out of sight but close to the Salvation Army’s Caring Place, which offers daily meals, a few shelter beds (16 men, 8 women) and other resources. This area is popularly known as the “Back 40” – because there were 40 or so homeless folks residing there. (…)

dtes-paint-in-displacement-copyFamily of humanity (poem from the Maple Ridge camp)

By Tracy Scott

We walk the streets/ day in and day out/ We scrape to eat and survive/ that’s what it’s all about/ The city only wants to/ throw us away,/ But we are people and have/ feelings too so why can’t we stay?/ We take the fall for all the wrong/ as we have rights too,/ And we stand strong. (…)

pg16_traceymorrison_grey“We are human beings with heart and potential:” A message from Indigenous drug users to the medical profession

An interview with Tracey Morrison by Jean Swanson

The story begins with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV and AIDS. They are indigenizing our research through talking circles. I say “our” research because it is WAHRS that is doing the actual research. We have had talking circles on four subjects where we gather information. It’s not research done in the conventional way where people from the outside come in and research us. (…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We are somebody:” Abbotsford Homeless take the City to Court

By Dave Diewert and DJ Larkin

On June 4, 2015, members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the Drug War Survivors and their allies gathered at the Happy Tree for a march down Gladys Ave to mark the anniversary of the infamous chicken shit incident. (…)

metrotown_lucinda-speaking-outside-public-hearing-june23-2015Metrotown community: a sanctuary in an uncertain city (In English)

By Simon Cienfuegos and Celia Sanchez

We are an immigrant family from Latin America and live very happy in Metrotown. My wife and I have two children of ages 15 and 12. Currently we rent an apartment in one of the buildings that are planned to be demolished and in its place, build a couple of high rise buildings, a few town houses and commercial suites. (…)

metrotown_lucinda-speaking-outside-public-hearing-june23-2015La comunidad de Metrotown – Un santuario en la ciudad de la inceritidumbre (En Espanol)

By Simon Cienfuegos and Celia Sanchez

Somos una familia inmigrante proveniente de Latinoamérica y vivimos muy felicesen Metrotown. Mi esposa y yo, tenemos dos hijos de 15 y 12 años. Actualmente rentamos un departamento en uno de los edificios que están destinados a ser demolidos para, en su lugar, construir un par de edificios, unidades habitacionales y locales comerciales. (…)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper smiles during a question and answer period following a luncheon speech Friday, November 15, 2013 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Housing First or Housing Farce?

By Jean Swanson

The federal government’s idea of Housing First is to subsidize landlords, not build housing for homeless people. That’s what an official of a non profit group that provides services to homeless people says. (…)

pg7_latinofamily_metrotowncondo_posterizedMetrotown: A developer’s Heaven

By Rick McGowan

Metrotown is one of the fastest growing, densest areas in Canada. It includes the spectacular Central Park, Western Canada’s second largest shopping center, Metropolis, and one of the most culturally diverse neighbourhood in the nation. It is in the City of Burnaby, which was ranked by MacLeans Magazine in 2009 as the “Best Run City in Canada”. (…)

sfu-louis-riel_150310-teresa-dettling_louisrieleviction-copyThe Struggle Together Brings Us Together: Lessons from a partial victory against mass eviction at SFU

By Teresa Dettling

The funny thing about eviction notices is that they are not just notices telling you that you have to move, they are messages that you are not good enough, that you do not have a right to exist. If you are a poor person you get this message from society in hundreds of different ways throughout your life. (…)

sro_actionSRO renovictions break up communities

By Jean Swanson

“I feel incredible. I’m very happy.” That’s what Mohammad Valayati told people at a news conference on June 19. Months ago he had been evicted illegally from the Clifton Hotel on Granville St. in Vancouver. On June 15th the Residential Tenancy Branch agreed with him that the eviction was illegal and ordered the landlord to let him back in his room. But the situation was complicated. (…)

sro-collectiveSRO Collaborative launches in the Downtown Eastside

By Wendy Pedersen and Chanel Ly

A Tenant Convention, SRO School, organizing “class action” suits to get repairs done, Youth for Chinese Seniors, and Video Voices of SRO tenants – these are some programs that the newly forming SRO Collaborative is taking on in its first year. (…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevastated and Betrayed: Community in Surrey Faces Eviction

By Dave Diewert

Residents at Park Mobile, a manufactured homes park in Surrey, are facing eviction. Many have lived there for years and have formed a close-knit community of friendship and support. Recently the Weststone Group purchased the property under their manufactured homes. Here the interests of private developers dovetail with those of the market-oriented medical establishment, educational institutions and governments in forming a powerful wave of development … and displacement. (…)

austerity1_definitionOrganizing against austerity

By Harold Lavender

Governments at all levels (federal provincial and municipal) are increasingly saying no to spending money on programs that meet human needs. They justify these austerity policies in terms of balancing the budget and paying down the debt. (with anti-austerity comics) (…)

action-campUnist’ot’en Oppose Bill C-51

By Freda Huson and Toghestiy

Deep in the forest, surrounded by the rapid on-going destruction of ancient lands, there grows a powerful place of healing and decolonization. Despite what can often seem like a concerted effort to extinguish indigenous culture, the Unist’ot’en clan have built a place where anyone willing to refuse to destroy the land are welcome to join them in this healing. (…)

brandon-gabriel-and-kwantlen-chief-marilyn-gabriel-april-11th-2015-copyKwantlen: Pipelines and Sovereignty

By Brandon Gabriel

My name is Brandon Gabriel. My education was in Cultural Anthropology and Visual Arts. I studied at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design (BFA 2006). I have worked on many community art, cultural, historical, administrative, and business projects in a number of different capacities with a multitude of organizations since that time. Currently I am focusing all of my energies on tackling the oil pipeline issues currently at our doorstep in unceded Kwantlen First Nation territories. (…)

pg5_bureaucraticlanguage_cov_greyBureaucratic language hides what’s really happening

By Jean Swanson

Bureaucratic language hides what is really happening from ordinary people and often makes situations look way better than they are. Bureaucratic language also makes people’s lived experience invisible and therefore irrelevant. I came across two examples recently. (…)

pg17_violenceagainsthomeless_mama_abbotsford_camp_greyThe Ugly Reality of Anti-Poor Hatred

By Ivan Drury

“People who sleep alone in the woods are in more danger than people in the camp. They’re always in danger,” Mum said. “Living here in a community like this is safer because you can’t be targeted just as one. The others will see what’s going on. There’s backup. We look out for each other… not that we all like each other!” she laughed. Mum knows about tent city community because she lives in Dignity Village, nestled between a warehouse district and the train tracks in Abbotsford. (…)

pg17_homelessdeaths_chalkoutline_posterizedStreet Deaths are Preventable: Victoria groups organize a week of education and action

By Ashley Mollison

In mid-June a coalition of groups in Victoria came together to host Street Deaths are Preventable Deaths: Week of Education and Action about the fatal impact of poverty and homelessness. The week was prompted by a report released by the UVic Poverty Law club documenting their investigation of 30 deaths of street-involved people in Victoria in the Summer and Fall of 2012. (…)

endviolence-copyStrathcona sexual assault reveals the safety of some women is worth more than others

By Anahita Jamali Rad and Maria Wallstam

On Thursday March 26th, a woman in Strathcona, Vancouver, was attacked and sexually assaulted by a stranger in her home. During the assault, a man walking by heard her screams and was able to intervene, allowing the victim to escape. The assailant, Caleb Heaton, was later arrested at the site and now faces seven charges, including aggravated sexual assault, breaking and entering, robbery, and unlawful confinement. Since the assault, there has been an amazing outpouring of support for the victim. (…)

jagdeep-copyGangs and Drugs: Probing the Root Causes of the Shootings in Surrey

An Interview with Jagdeep Singh Mangat by Dave Diewert

In the 1980s and 90s when I was involved in the gang scene in East Vancouver, there were street gangs protecting and controlling geographical areas and managing the street level drug trade within those areas. At that time, the street gangs were working for larger, more sophisticated criminal organizations, and at all levels there was a fixed command and control structure. But that’s not what’s happening these days. (…)

pg20_microhousing_beaconhilltentcity_victoria_2008_greyMicro-housing: the non-solution solution

By Shane Calder

No one is saying Micro Housing is a solution to homelessness: not city planners, not housing advocates and certainly not the homeless. But here in Victoria the Micro Housing initiative is starting to gain speed. (…)

copCommunity Policing: Better Relationships or Better Surveillance?

By Dionne Molloy

In an op-ed written for the Times Colonist in April, Police Chief Frank Elsner laid out his vision for a renewed community policing strategy for Victoria. He wrote, “The social problems we see on our streets cannot be solved with the rule of law alone,” but need to be “balanced” in a “holistic wheel” that he calls “community.” To some people on the street who have only experienced policing as violence, this might sound hopeful. But is it an alternative to ‘law and order’ policing, or a more sophisticated version of the same old beat cop? (…)

pg22_ayotzinapa_toronto_gathering_april20_2015pg22_ayotzinapa_sfu_april20_2015Hope Against Oblivion: The Ayotzinapa to Ottawa Caravan


On September 26, 2014, Mexican security forces killed 6 people and forcibly disappeared 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Teachers’ College from Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero. Almost a year after the tragic incident took place, the machinery of the Mexican government (including the judicial system, the mass media, and the diplomatic corps) has tried in vain to bury the case. (…)

pg23_hessedtorres-interviewed-on-cbc-about-lcpThe Plight of Migrant Workers

By Hessed Torres

In recent years Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been shutting its doors on migrant workers. The Conservative government has made immigrating to Canada more and more difficult for working people, while expanding the numbers and restricting the rights of their temporary foreign worker programs. (…)


Honouring Bea Starr

By Cecily Nicholson

We are sad to note the loss of Beatrice Lucy Starr, wolf clan of the Heiltsuk from Bella Bella, who passed away this June 14th in the company of family. As a community member, an organizer with the Power of Women group, a long-time volunteer of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and as a mother, auntie, grandmother and sister, she left a legacy to celebrate. (…)

pjg-prison-justice-day-victoria_rgbFrom the inside out: What we free ourselves from when we get rid of prisons

By Lora McElhinney and Abby Rolston

It is much like a classroom in a school on the outside with concrete walls painted off-white, long, folding tables and chairs, windows, white boards and mockable teaching materials that we all ignore. Joint Effort, a group of women on the inside and women on the outside that get together for workshops of mutual interest, has brought the materials into Alouette Correctional Centre for Women for the drawing workshop. (…)