Fighting for Space is heading east. We’ve scheduled a trio of public events for Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.
Each event will be a little different. But they’ll all begin with a presentation that recounts Vancouver’s history of harm reduction as I tell it in the book. Then we’ll continue with the book’s main characters, bringing their stories up to where we are today.
– FREE events and everyone is welcome –
Through the 1990s, Vancouver experienced a drug crisis similar to the epidemic that Canada struggles with today. Travis Lupick, author of Fighting For Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction, will recount how the city responded and what lessons should be applied now.
He’ll deliver a history of harm-reduction activism in Vancouver that connects the story in the book with the Downtown Eastside’s response to the fentanyl crisis today.
In the 1990s, drug overdoses killed hundreds and then thousands of people in Vancouver. Eventually, the city responded in incredible ways. Politicians listened to the demands of drug users and that led Vancouver to establish the continent’s first supervised-injection facility, Insite. Solutions to Vancouver’s crisis of the ’90s came from the drug users themselves.
In Fighting for Space, Lupick recounts how Downtown Eastside activists marched in the streets to force politicians to change how we respond to the challenge of addiction. It was a political war that took nearly two decades but the activists eventually won. Today Vancouver is championed for pioneering harm reduction.
In Montreal (March 14), Ottawa (March 16), and Toronto (March 19), Lupick will talk about where those activists are now, what roles they’ve taken on since fentanyl arrived, and what these drug users and their allies argue must happen next to begin to reduce overdose deaths.
The tour was only made possible with generous support from the University of Ottawa’s Criminology Graduate Student Association and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.
I’m also hugely grateful to local partners on the ground in Montreal and Toronto, including L’Association pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD), CACTUS Montreal, the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance (THRA), and the Toronto Drug Users Union.