Fighting for Space readings and discussions booked for Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto

Fighting for Space is heading east. We’ve scheduled a trio of public events for Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

March 14: Montreal
March 16: Ottawa
March 19: 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.

Complete details available at each event’s Facebook page: Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

First reviews: Fighting for Space “offers a glimmer of hope”

Recently there were a trio of reviews published about Fighting for Space. Here’s what Canadian media is saying about the book.

“Lupick’s book does not shy away from the negative: many people die….But the lingering feeling the reader is left with is one of hope. Fighting for Space demonstrates that a rag-tag but passionate group, with the help of some well-placed political allies, media-savvy protest techniques, a researcher, and a lawyer or two, can change the world – or at least make it a little more bearable.” ― Stephen Knight writing for Quill & Quire. Read the rest of his review.

“Sometimes a telling of history acts as a call to action. Amidst the chaotic bureaucracy battles, run-ins with the state, and the busy streets of the [Downtown Eastside], Lupick manages to do exactly that….Although we live in a bleak time, by offering a celebratory look at past successes, Lupick offers a glimmer of hope.” ― Tyson Kelsall writing for Read the rest of his review.

“This is an important book full of human drama and useful policy suggestions. Fighting for Space should be read widely and heeded by citizens and policy-makers.” ― Tom Sandborn writing for the Vancouver Sun. Read the rest of his review.

Fighting for Space in a drug crisis: at the Vancouver Public Library January 11

Amanda Siebert photo.

Missed our launch party last month? We’ve scheduled a second Fighting for Space event for Vancouver.

On January 11, 2018, the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) will host a reading and discussion at its Central Branch at West Georgia and Homer streets.

I’ll deliver a history of harm-reduction activism in Vancouver that connects the story that’s recounted in the book with the Downtown Eastside’s response to the fentanyl crisis today. The book covers the years 1990 to December 2016, and so we’ll talk about where key characters are now.

I’ve put together a multimedia presentation with photographs and video about all of that. And so even if you were at the November event, you’ll find this event is entirely new material.

In addition, Ann Livingston, a leading Vancouver activist and one of the book’s main characters, has graciously agreed to stand alongside me and contribute to the discussion.

Here’s the library’s event description: “Through the 1990s, Vancouver experienced a drug crisis similar to the epidemic it struggles with today. Travis Lupick, author of Fighting For Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction, and Ann Livingston, a Downtown Eastside activist whose story is featured in the book, will recount how the city responded then and what lessons should be applied now.”

January 11, 2018, at the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch (350 West Georgia Street) beginning at 7 p.m.

Community news: Two appearances in the Downtown Eastside later this week

Travis Lupick poto.

We’ve added a pair of community events to our calendar. I’ll be talking about Fighting for Space at the Carnegie on two dates later this week.

On Friday (December 1), as part of the community centre’s schedule for World AIDS Day 2017, I plan to draw from the book to present on the role that drug users played in responding to Vancouver’s HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1990s. I’ll also discuss where the city learned from its mistakes and explain how lessons learned could be applied today.

Then, on Saturday (December 2), the Carnegie has planned an event specific to the book that the library there is describing as a celebration of the story told in Fighting for Space. For that, I’ve planned a short reading and hope to receive lots of questions that will keep an open discussion moving.

Both engagements are scheduled for the early evening. Head over to the Events page for details.

First review: “Fighting for Space should be read widely and heeded by citizens and policy-makers”

Today (November 15) Fighting for Space received its first review. (First review excluding the four blurbs we collected before publication for the cover.)

It’s from the Vancouver Sun and gave me the impression that the writer, Tom Sandborn, really got what I was trying to do with the book.

“Lupick is a highly competent researcher and elegantly deft writer, and his book tells stories about the emergence of the Portland Hotel Society and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users,” the review reads.

“Lupick’s book is humanized by his closely observed and respectful portraits of some of the people who first championed the radical idea that drug users should have a leading voice in designing any government interventions in their lives.”

It concludes: “Fighting for Space should be read widely and heeded by citizens and policy-makers.”

Read the review in its entirety at the Vancouver Sun‘s website.

Today the Sun‘s sister paper, the Province, also published an article about Fighting for Space. It’s based on an interview that staff reporter Dan Fumano did with me. You can read it at the Province‘s website.

Taking part in Homewood Health panel discussion November 9

This Thursday (November 9), I’m taking part in a panel discussion titled “Trauma and Resilience.” The event is hosted by Homewood Health, a mental-health and addiction services provider with one location in Vancouver.

The organization has been kind enough to work the release of Fighting for Space into the afternoon. Here’s how Homewood Health describes its plans:

“On November 9th, join us for a discussion about Vancouver’s opioid crisis, trauma, and treatment as we celebrate the launch of Travis Lupick’s new book, Fighting For Space, and the launch of the trauma-support program at The Homewood Clinic in Vancouver.

“Featuring a panel discussion with: Travis Lupick (award-winning journalist and author); Lynn Noftle (staff sergeant in the mental-health portfolio of the Vancouver Police Department); and Richard Marquez (trauma specialist with the Homewood Clinic in Vancouver).”

A Homewood Health media release provides additional details about the Vancouver clinic’s new trauma-support program, describing it as providing, “immediate access to customized, intensive outpatient treatment for individuals struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.”

The event is this Thursday afternoon (November 9), beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Homewood Health’s Vancouver headquarters at 575 West 8th Avenue, suite 600. You can register to attend via Eventbrite.

I believe the event is aimed at health-care workers and related service providers but that anyone who registers can sit in the audience.

After the panel discussion, I’ll have books there for sale and will be happy to sign copies and answer any additional questions people might have.

Fighting for Space is in bookstores now

Amanda Siebert photo.

Today’s the release date.

Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction is out with Arsenal Pulp Press.

Order now via, Chapters Indigo, or directly from the publisher. (American release in the spring.)

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.

Join us for the book’s launch in Vancouver on November 16.

Fighting for Space: Join us for the November 16 book launch in Vancouver

Our official launch is just three weeks away. (And the book is available for pre-order now.)

On November 16, we’re hosting a panel discussion in Vancouver in conjunction with the release of Fighting for Space.

The fentanyl crisis an where we go from here.”

The event will bring together a politician, a mother and advocate, a nonprofit service provider, a representative for the health-care system, a drug user, and a journalist, for a public discussion about B.C.’s fentanyl crisis.

Speakers will include: Nichola Hall, co-founder of From Grief to Action; Jennifer Breakspear, executive director of the Portland Hotel Society; Don Davies, member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway; Lorna Bird, president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users; Dr. Bonnie Henry, deputy provincial health officer for British Columbia; Travis Lupick, author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction and staff reporter for the Georgia Straight newspaper.

The evening will begin with a short performance of Illicit: Stories from a harm reduction movement. The theatre production by David Mendes and Kelty McKerracher shares the stories of residents of the Downtown Eastside who are working on the front lines of the community’s response to the overdose epidemic.

Then we’ll move to the panel. I’ll ask a few questions, keep things moving along, and then we’ll open the floor to questions from the audience.

Afterwards, the book will be available for purchase and I’ll be more than happy to sign copies and discuss further, if people want.

For complete details, visit the event’s Facebook page, and let us know if you’re coming.

Feel free to share this page on Facebook or Twitter.

We hope to see you there.

Fighting for Space hits the street in less than two weeks

We’re less than two weeks away from our release date. Fighting for Space will be in bookstores and begin shipping online orders on Wednesday, November 1.

Pre-order now via or Chapters Indigo. (American release in the spring.)

We’ve got a number of public appearances scheduled through November. I’ve added an “events” section to this website where you can find details on a couple of panel discussions I’m participating in as well as the book’s official release. The launch is happening in Vancouver on Thursday, November 16, and is open to the public.

The events page will be updated as additional appearances are scheduled so feel free to keep an eye there.

Sharing the cover of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction

Just a couple of months before publication, we finally have a cover selected for Fighting for Space.

The photograph was taken by Amanda Siebert, a staff reporter and colleague at the Georgia Straight newspaper. The design is by Oliver McPartlin, who works in-house at Arsenal Pulp Press.

We struggled for a while to nail down the exact look and feeling that we wanted. I think it was Amanda’s photograph that finally got us there. Then Oliver brought it together almost overnight.

We hope you like it.

Fighting for Space is available for pre-order now via Amazon or Chapters Indigo.