Fighting for Space

Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in November 2017.

Pre-order now via Amazon or Chapters Indigo.

The grassroots story of a revolutionary approach to drug addiction that is saving lives.

While North America is in the grips of a drug epidemic, Fighting for Space explains the concept of harm reduction as a crucial component of a city’s response to the crisis.

It tells the story of a grassroots group of addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who waged a political street fight for two decades to transform how the city treats its most marginalized citizens. Fighting for Space follows the lives of two women—Liz Evans, who founded the Portland Hotel Society, and Ann Livingston, who co-founded the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users—and the extraordinary lengths they went to help their community weather a crisis.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, this group of residents from Canada’s poorest neighbourhood organized themselves in response to a growing number of overdose deaths and demanded that addicts be given the same rights as any other citizen.

But just as their battle came to an end, fentanyl arrived and opioid deaths across North America reached an all-time high.

It’s prompted many to rethink the war on drugs. Public opinion has slowly begun to turn against prohibition, and policy-makers are finally beginning to look at addiction as a health issue as opposed to one for the criminal justice system.

The previous epidemic in Vancouver sparked government action. Twenty years later, as the same pattern plays out in other cities, there is much that advocates for reform can learn from Vancouver’s experience. Fighting for Space tells that story, with the same passionate fervor as the activists whose tireless work gave dignity to addicts and saved countless lives.

About the author

Travis Lupick is an award-winning journalist based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He has more than a decade’s experience working as a staff reporter and editor for the Georgia Straight newspaper. He has also written about drug addiction, harm reduction, and mental health for the Toronto Star, the Walrus, and Al Jazeera English, among other outlets. For reporting on Canada’s fentanyl crisis, Lupick received the Canadian Association of Journalists’ prestigious Don McGillivray award for best overall investigative report of 2016. He has also worked as a journalist in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Honduras. Follow him on Twitter: @tlupick.


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