The anti-poverty fight in Vancouver

Let’s be honest. Vancouver, B.C. is one of the best and worst places in the world. The cost of living is among the highest, and Canada’s richest neighborhoods are here. Isn’t that strange how that works? Then it comes as no surprise that the poorest communities are also found here. Mention the Downtown Eastside[wiki] to nearly any Canadian and they’ll have a fairly good idea of what you’re talking about.

It’s an enigma that Rebecca and I haggle over from time to time, trying to understand how things get this way as well as how you could attempt to solve the problem. Often our concerns come to the 2010 games and what that will do to the area. Swept under the rug or dealt with to ensure a better future? We’re hoping for the latter.

There are groups taking the fight to the forefront, staging protests and bringing the subject out to the public. And for all of that, I am really in support of it. There is a certain point where any group that takes action has a line that once crossed, I have a hard time supporting them anymore.

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – After a violent clash with police on Wednesday night, the Anti-Poverty Committee took to the streets again on Thursday to protest in front of Canada Place, where Mayor Sam Sullivan was speaking to Vancouver business leaders. The shouted slogans were a mixed bag, encompassing homelessness, stolen native land, the Olympics, and the need to do away with the NPA, the ruling civic party in Vancouver.

Anita Chupp Kennedy is not an Anti-Poverty Committee member, and she did not attempt to force her way through any police lines, but she did walk proudly behind one of their banners. She said the APC did not represent her, but she feels poverty is a big issue that needs to be dealt with. She said, “I’m just here to help poor people and homeless and the hungry and the hardworking poor.” [news1130]

Over the past few months, there has been a sense of escalation in terms of the demonstrations, protests, and the methods in which anti-poverty groups have been putting out their message. That means it’s working, being that more and more people are taking notice, but I also think that there is a fine line that once crossed, the hope for successful resolution to this problem will be severely hampered.

In a number of incidents, there are reports of various items (i.e. rocks, bottles of urine, or paint filled balloons) that have been found in the possession of protesters. I have not heard of these materials being used, nor can I confirm that these reports are valid. However, having any demonstration escalate into the use of violence damages the credibility of any message, especially if anyone gets hurt. At that point, you’re left screaming upon deaf ears.

I know that I don’t have all the knowledge or know how to give the whole answer to this huge problem, but what is happening is sadly not causing the intended change that is so desperately wanted and needed. This article on NowPublic shows that I’m not the only one considering the perplexity of what’s going on here.


3 Replies to “The anti-poverty fight in Vancouver”

  1. You mention “a fine line once crossed…” I would really ask people who are concerned to get invovled in working as a volunteer in one of the many groups in the Downtown Eastside. It is a startling education on just what needs, not wants, the residents have. Once you spend some time seeing and hearing the plight of so many people you realize so many others have been crossing fine lines for years. What you hear on the radio and what you read in the newspaper is a small percentage of the acutal story. Nothing will change until the silent majority wakes up and attempts positive solutions to get some things fixed. Support calls for active participation. It is challenging and tough but very worthwhile.

  2. Talking about this tonight with friends, there are fine lines around every corner. No easy way to argue this other than it being the problem that it is.

    If anything, my intention is to do my part in raising awareness to this situation. Maybe GZ Expat is right, maybe he isn’t. At least the dialog can be extended to the point that someone might find a good way to a solution.

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