Report from DTES Women’s Housing March, Gentrifuckation Tour, and Block Party to Block Condos

Approximately 600 people participated in both the 5th Annual Women’s Housing March and Gentrifcukation Tour as well as the DTES Block Party to Block Condos on the 100 Block!

(more photos from Ben Powless here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/powless/sets/72157627698730560/)

Video by Isaac O, VMC:

Photos and article by Yolanda Cole in Georgia Straight:
http://www.straight.com/article-461516/vancouver/photos-affordable-housing-demonstration-vancouvers-downtown-eastside

Also check out some photos from Murray Bush here: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/photo/womens-housing-march-and-gentrifuckation-tour/8172

The 5th Annual Annual Women’s Housing March and Gentrifcukation Tour was organized by the DTES Power of Women Group.  Kat Norris started off the march by acknowledging and welcoming everyone to Unceded Coast Salish Territories. Led by Elders and Drummers, the march included a puppet show; street artists and kids chalk-in; street theatre by Carnegie Community Action Project in front of Milano Gourmet Coffee, and powerful speakers from the DTES Power of Women Group, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users. Big thanks to friends at Carnegie Jazz Band, Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, Mas Movement Salsa, DTES Harmony of Nations Drum Group, and Testament who performed and brought their festive energy to the march, as well as to Streams of Justice and Pizza for the People who served free home-made wraps and pizzas right in front of the gentrifying restaurants Nicli Antica Pizzeria and Salty Tongue.

Watch videos by Sid Tan (W2) and Medha (Vancouer Sun):

Vancouver Sun article and video: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Marchers+call+government+commit+safe+affordable+housing+women/5419667/story.html

Despite police intimidation and threatening of arrest, a banner was dropped off the proposed Pantages condos site. Police were also unable to stop a crew of theatre artists who entered inside 10 fancy restaurants and boutiques stores to perform anti-gentrification skits. Hundreds of Boycott Gentrification leaflets and Gentrifuckation stickers were handed out and the Women’s Warrior Song was sung at the intersection of Cordova and Carrall, where there is a rapid expansion of high-end restaurants, boutique stores and condo development.

An article on Boycott Gentrification from Stephanie Law: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/homes-now-not-condos/8173

The march ended at the Regent Hotel for a ceremony for 50 year old Indigenous woman Verna Simard,whose body was found the night prior on the sidewalk in front of the slum SRO. Her death  – a direct result of systemic violence – occurred exactly one year after Ashley Machiskinic, a young Native woman, died from the same building. Just two days prior to the march and block party, Verna had attended a meeting of 100 block residents organized by the DTES Neighbourhood Council and stated that “I want to come to meetings and get involved. I think we have to fight now to make things better.” Throughout the day, women highlighted how little has changed over the decades for women in the DTES despite the Missing Women’s Inquiry.

The march was immediately followed by a DTES Block Party to Block Condos on the 100 Block, which held down the entire block of Main and Hastings for over two hours. In light of the tragedy the night prior, several performances were cancelled by the organizers and instead the Block Party became a space for collective expression and reflection. The DTES Block party was organized by the Stop Pantages Condos Coalition of Aboriginal Front Door, Carnegie Community Action Project, Citywide Housing Coalition, DTES Neighbourhood Council, DTES Power of Women Group, Gallery Gachet, Streams of Justice, and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.

As stated by the Aboriginal Front Door, who opened and closed the event, “For us, the fight against gentrification is also against colonialism…The block party is a declaration that the community will not abandon the 100-block to gentrifying real estate speculators and investors.” Over 40 organizations and 1200 DTES residents have signed a DTES Community Resolution opposing condos at the old Pantages Theatre site. The resolution calls on the City to stop the Sequel 138 development permit application, buy the Pantages parcel at its assessed value, and designate it for 100% resident controlled social housing with low-income community space on the ground floor. Local artists and DTES agency workers are also increasingly opposed to the project, and along with potential condo buyers, they have launched boycotts of Sequel 138, stating “We would not want to be complicit in a project that will further displace, impoverish, and police residents of the Downtown Eastside and make people feel more unwelcome in their own neighbourhood.”

Many of these local artists, including the DTES Arts Space Coalition, organized a Paint-In at the Pantages site during the DTES Block Party. People enjoyed Pancakes for the People served by the UBC Social Justice Centre, though an undercover RCMP was removed.  Throughout the Block Party, DTES residents spoke and performed about the impacts of gentrification in the DTES and the need to defend the 100 block for low-income residents.

Thanks all and keep up the fight! (report by H.W)

Selected Photos from Ben Powless, Fathima Cadre, Murray Bush, Harjap Grewal



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8 responses to “Report from DTES Women’s Housing March, Gentrifuckation Tour, and Block Party to Block Condos

  1. Verna and Ashley both died as a direct result of male violence against women. As well as systemic racism and poverty from colonization. Women in the DTES are more vulnerable to male violence because of the degraded housing, lack of educational opportunities, and grinding poverty. Mens’ violence against women is the single biggest danger to women in the Downtown Eastside. Provision of housing, meaningful work, a variety of drug and alcohol treatment programs and centres (on demand) and a guaranteed livable income will go a long way to protecting women, and offering them opportunities to organize on their own behalf and step together toward freedom.

  2. Please keep us informed of these marches so that we can support you in the future.

    We are organizing marches soon to demand housing for men. We’ll let you know when we have our marches.

    Thanks!

  3. Priscillia Mays

    POWERFUL FOTOS AND I SURE HOPE THE MESSAGE IS OUT-CAUSE HOUSING IS A RIGHT…

  4. Pingback: TEA & TWO SLICES: On Painted Stupidity And Vancouver’s Inability To Dress Itself : Scout Magazine

  5. The root cause of gentrification in the DTES is neo-colonization (also known as immigration). Vancouver has a very restricted amount of land to build affordable housing on. Bringing in 30 000 colonizers (immigrants) into Vancouver every year puts a squeeze on our transit systems, housing and healthcare.

    Poor people in China and India don’t get treated nearly as well as in Canada. We need to stop them from bringing this culture here. Let’s stop the corporations who want cheap labour brought in from outside Canada. Stop immigration now!

  6. Gentrification is NOT caused by immigration, and certainly not by “Chinese” and “Indian” cultures as the above “Anonymous” commenter claims. The real estate rule of Vancouver was established by white settlers who carried out a dual struggle against the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueum, and Squamish nations – from who they stole the territories now called Vancouver – and against Chinese, Japanese, and Indian settlers. Their beef against Asian settlers was their white supremacist agenda: They wanted to make and keep British Columbia British and were worried that if there were too many Asian settlers then the British empire might have lost its grasp on the western shore of Canada. Sadly, that racist and white-supremacist colonialist attitude still exists and rears its head from time to time in Vancouver. It did when the British gave up control over Hong Kong in the 1980s and it is present here in the above comment.

    The root cause of gentrification is the capitalist real estate market, which is inflated and dependent upon irresponsible and self-interested speculators and investors. They prey upon low-income communities by buying up properties and letting them sit empty, combining them one after another. The more they own, the more they can oversee the “dead zone” they create. After they have driven property values down they can buy up the whole block cheap… then develop it into a pricey, hip, edgy development. Just like Marc Williams did with the Pantages site and the properties he bought up beside it. Boom! There goes the 100-block.

    This is a class question, it is a colonial question, and it is a question of systemic racism, sexism, and discrimination against low-income people who struggle with mental and physical health and addictions… but, unless you’re talking about those white settlers 125 years ago, it is not because of immigrants.

  7. I am learning about Sequel 138 now, and I am against gentrification, but could someone explain how this is any different than the condos at W2/Woodwards? Is it just the matter of a few blocks of distance? And their condos are a lot more expensive too. I noticed the W2 twitter account signed a page supporting the boycott and I find that a bit weird. What’s the difference between them?

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