The Eastside Illicit Drinkers Group for Education (EIDGE) is a group of people who use illicit alcohol. We work to improve the lives of illicit drinkers through education and support. We work together to end discrimination against illicit drinkers and to promote safety amongst our members.
Illicit drinkers are the most low-income, most stigmatized, most abused, least respected people in the Downtown Eastside. We are mostly Aboriginal people. We are nearly all homeless or underhoused in dangerous and unhealthy hotels. We are the ones that cops push off the street when the city wants to put in expensive shops and restaurants.
Sequel 138 condos on the 100-block will be another form of ethnic cleansing against us. We know that if yuppies moving across from the bottle depot and Insite, they will call the cops and call the mayor to send the cops to bust up the block so that they don’t have to look at us. They pay lots of taxes and think they deserve special treatment from the cops. And we are the ones who suffer police brutality the most when they want to clear the block.
Most members of EIDGE are survivors of residential schools, foster homes, and abusive childhoods. Many of us drink because we can’t bear the pain of this abuse, we drink to forget.
Already when we’re drinking in our neighbourhood, especially around clubs in Gastown or even around the Fortune Soundclub on Pender and the Rickshaw on Hastings, the rich kids who come into our community to party swear at us and try to pick fights with us. They create an intimidating environment on our streets that feels violent. We never bother them but they harass and threaten us and the bouncers and security guards and cops protect them and harass and beat us. The cops never harass the rich-kid partiers no matter how many bottles they smash or how much they yell, but the cops will try to find and harass illicit drinkers even when they are not bothering anyone.
When we suffer violence from the police who target us because of discrimination against low-income, Aboriginal, illicit drinkers it re-traumatizes us… and we drink more and harder.
Condos on the 100-block will mean more cops and more security guards on the 100-block and on the corner near First United and more violence against illicit drinkers. Condos in our community are a threat to our lives.
People who can afford condos have lots of other places they could live – but this is the only place low income people have. Rich people never like to have supportive services in their neighourhoods. But we need services and peer support centres or we will suffer more. We are finally starting to get back on our feet and some of us are even getting our children back… don’t destroy our community and uproot us again now.
The Downtown Eastside is our urban reserve, it’s the place where we were put because we didn’t have anywhere else to go. And we made a home here. We made a community here. And now the developers want to take this away from us too.
In the rich neighbourhoods they say “not in my backyard” to social housing, recovery homes, and shelters. Here in the Downtown Eastside we say “Not in our backyard, not in our front yard, we don’t want any more condos in our community.” We want the city to stop Sequel 138 condos and focus on getting us better housing so our community can get stronger, healthier, and feel safer and confident in ourselves; free from discrimination and harassment.