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:
Video by Isaac O, VMC:
Photos and article by Yolanda Cole in Georgia Straight:
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