Disability Issues in the DES

Disability continues to be the cash cow for nonprofit organizations that provide services for people living with disabilities, both mental and physical, in the DES. I would like to share my opinions/perspectives on why I feel that conditions for Aboriginal people with disabilities in our neighbourhood continue to deteriorate. Considering the generous amount of dollars allocated to organizations in this area, we should, by now, see some positive changes.

Now that residential school syndrome and substance abuse are recognized as disabilities, most groups claim to be doing their part in addressing these issues. and to he doing their part to make life better for all who live here. I am disappointed in the effectiveness of our own Aboriginal groups whether it be the policies they work under, or the fact that there is hot competition for the same monies. There appears to be a certain amount of competitiveness and jealousy among our Aboriginal groups. It is not a wonder that there has not been any coordinated effort to develop programs that are culturally appropriate, and will be effective for Aboriginal people, including those persons that require much patience or are hard to deal with. Programs that suit the mainstream European or Asian population are foreign to the cultural tradition of an Indigenous people.

City politicians and those who work for them must acknowledge the fact that Aboriginal people with disabilities have something to offer on strategy planning in the DES. I happen to be Aboriginal and also have a disability. In my humble opinion the focus for programming should have a strong traditional healing component.

Vancouver City has a program in place, Vancouver/Richmond Health Board has a strategy. Even Jenny Kwan is currently working on a plan called the Vancouver Agreement. I would like to know who agreed, who Jenny consulted when she speaks on our behalf.

There exists now, both a traditional healing fund and the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board funding to begin traditional healing programs for Aboriginal people who have particular health problems, and who also live in the DES. It is not a means by which our elected leaders are able to play polities and thus undermine grassroots initiatives.

All my relations,

Fred Arrance

 

Many Aboriginal people are suffering the injustice of the BC Government. And its Social Services and Economic Development

It's either they [the specific ministries]are refusing to give financial aid.. or falsely accusing Native parents of being unfit to care for their children. Social Workers brainwash children, getting them to believe that their natural parents do not care for them. Foster parents abuse the same children for not listening or doing as they are told. When someone smacks another it is assault; when a child is hit it's termed discipline.

Many First Nations' children are suffering mental and physical and emotional abuse, but the false allegations against First Nations' parents go far beyond "White lies"… Sure, many of our people are the adult children of alcoholics. It doesn't mean that they will follow in their parents' footsteps. But to have the Ministry labelling many First Nations people as unfit and chronically alcoholic is a totally harassing behaviour on its part. This mistreatment of First Nations' people has to be confronted and stopped.

Gilbert Walters

 

THE WAR AGAINST FUTILITY

Garry Gust

It’s a line so fine, measured in overlapping moments of time. As we cross that line we know we’ve escaped the rudest of moods. Little things that irritated us just an hour ago now amuse us.

If only we could stay on that line, how wonderful life would be! But, almost instinctually, we strive to maintain the fine-line feeling. Whether it be beer, whiskey, cocaine. heroin, or Tylenol 3, we are at last numb to the rude mood of life, and now we feel ‘human.”

But the mental message is clear: 'If I don’t keep consuming the beer, or wine, or whatever, I’ll lose this great feeling of well-being.'

And the contest begins with the use-it-or-lose-it mentality instilled in us by the mass media. The beer drinkers go to the fridge for another brew… hmmm, let's see, I started with six cans.. now I've got three left.. Now the struggle begins with a dizzy, sickening feeling of losing control.

We go through this process, people like me, about twice a month when things build up to the point of "Well, I've had enough of this crap" - and we head for the liquor store like a person with an unbearable toothache who already feels relief before reaching the destination.

Now, dear reader, if you will translate this twice-monthly ritual to the language of heroin or cocaine users you may appreciate that the users of such intoxicants go through the process on an hourly basis, day in day out, until either death or treatment intervene to break the cycle

But, because our governments prefer that death is the best option, we will continue to shed our tears as the overdose murders continue.

 

Mayor Owen Knows Little About The Criminal Justice System

According to The Vancouver Sun, Mayor Owen and the Vancouver police board support a group that plans to monitor so-called lenient sentencing in provincial courts (Mayor backs bid to keep eye on judges, Van Sun, Oct.1/99).

Owen is probably aware of a recent Angus Reid poll that found a majority of Canadians felt sentences for criminals should be more severe, and he will probably fight a “law and order” campaign, firmly based on ignorance and fear, in the coming municipal election.

The impression that Canada’s criminal justice system treats offenders too softly has been created by sensational crime reporting in the media, the powerful crime control industry (police & prisons), and unscrupulous politicians who prey on the fears of ordinary people who see jobs and income shrinking in a brutal global economy.

Here are some facts about the criminal justice system, and you’ll have to read them in the Carnegie Newsletter because the corporate media will not present a balanced account of crime control.

How can prison sentencing be too lenient in Canada when the incarceration rate (the rate at which we throw our citizens in jail) is the fourth highest in the industrial world, behind the United States, Russia and South Africa? How can prison sentencing be too lenient in Canada when the Canadian youth justice system jails a higher percentage of youth who come to court than any other industrial society, including the United States? (1)

There is confusion in Canada about community alternatives to prison, or conditional sentencing, but don’t count on the media, or power mad politicians, or those who profit from prisons to give you solid information on this subject. The Angus Reid poll quoted earlier found that when conditional sentencing was fully explained to people, they changed from being against the idea to being for it.(2) Well organized alternatives to prison, run by committed citizens and backed by the police, can be effective in steering a person away from crime. Keeping people, especially young people, out of jail is an important strategy in fighting crime.

Prison does not reduce crime because a person who has been in prison is very likely to end up in prison again. This fact is well known in the prison industry, especially by prison wardens who are often more enlightened than politicians or the media . Prisons do satisfy the need of some people for vengeance, but they do not rehabilitate people. They create the illusion that something has been done about crime, but they do not reduce crime. (The Expanding Prison, p.3)

The crime control industry is a powerful lobby that calls for more police and more prisons. We need to remember, and Mayor Owen needs to remember, that prisons are totalitarian institutions which do not address the wide range of ways crime can be controlled in a democratic society - such as a more equitable distribution of income and wealth, decent jobs at decent wages, effective alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders, and drug management policies that keep drug addiction out of the criminal justice system.

Because of media sensationalism, many Canadians still think that crime rates are rising, but since 1991 the general crime rate, and the youth crime rate, have followed the same down-ward trend. (The Expanding Prison, p.63). We need an intelligent debate on crime control, and Mayor Owen could start by reading David Cayley’s excellent book, The Expanding Prison

By Sandy Cameron

(1) The Expanding Prison, by David Cayley, pub. by Anansi Press, 1998, p.65.
(2) The Globe And Mail, October 2/99, “Majority feels criminals treated too softly,” by Kirk Makin.

 

Civic Election - Nov.20 1999

It's every 3 years now, and for the last 3 it's been people all from the Non-Partisan Association - and maybe that means about as much to gentle readers as the recipe for haggis at a mission.

The NPA - city government - is in the business of making decisions almost solely in favour of business. Bylaws on panhandling, the proliferation of private security, old stand-by beefs like Crab Park access, and the ongoing agenda of the gastown money having decreed that we are no longer welcome in our neighbourhood. The word "lobby" is pretty tame when it comes to the control that certain business and property owners exert over things like zoning decisions and licensing. Gentrification is a goal; elimination of any and all low-income services, housing, community direction is the holy grail. Does this sound like a rant? The decisions and the workings of government can be made to look awful regardless of who it is - just look at the obligatory anti-NDP stuff that appears daily in the media.

The alternative, the more human, the different - are a formal party. The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) keeps abreast of civic matters and attempts to expose the NPA links and decisions that run afoul of honest government. They have made a liaison with the Green Party to run a joint campaign and a joint slate of candidates. Tthere will be more on the record and direction of the NPA and the need for a new direction, but for now a short biography on some of the candidates.

 

THE PATIO OF THE DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE

Funny, that for years I believed the mandate of the Carnegie Centre was to be the living room of the downtown eastside - to provide a safe haven and productive activities alternate to the street life of the area.

These days things have changed. The street corner at Hastings & Main has always been a congested and very unpleasant one.. not a nice place to have to catch your bus. Now it is even worse. I find myself on the road to avoid the drug users who have now apparently taken over the street corner. They are provided with chairs, games and refreshments. I agree that there is a terrible drug problem in this city which is not being addressed. There is a desperate need for more detox and health care for these people. However I do not feel that putting the general public at further risk on that corner is at all fair. Why is this happening????

If there is something hidden here that is very good and to the benefit of mankind I cannot see it.

I can see the effort put into restoring Oppenheimer Park. It is supposed to be a park. The side-walk outside of Carnegie is supposed to be a sidewalk. The handicapped ramp is supposed to be a ramp for just that purpose. How easy is the access now?

I would like see Carnegie as the “living room of the downtown eastside” again, not as a patio which sanctions drug abuse and violence.

Buss Ryder

HOUSING? CRIME? HARM REDUCTION? PANHANDLING?…

What issues do you want to discuss as we roll into another civic election? On Friday, October 29, from 10:00-Noon in the Carnegie theatre, Dera will host a public meeting featuring mayoralty candidates for the upcoming election.

We have invited David Cadman (Cope/Green), Jamie Lee Hamilton (Independent) and Philip Owen (NPA) to participate. As of this newsletter’s deadline, confirmation has been received by Mr. Cadman and Ms. Hamilton. We have not yet heard from Philip Owen’s office but we remain hopeful he will find the time to take part. If not, we will proceed with the two candidates that have confirmed. Since our intention is to have as many residents as possible address the candidates, we will ask that no candidates for city council who may be in attendance speak at the microphone. This is our chance to get Downtown Eastside priorities and issues on the public agenda before we the voters make our choices in November. See you there.

Ian MacRae

 

Depression Screening Day? Mental Health Awareness?

If, as I have been claiming for years, everything we know about the world and what is happening in the world affects everything we think and do, consciously or unconsciously (unconscious - that which is not yet conscious), then, in the circumstances that presently obtain just about everywhere in the world, or everywhere in the world, today, not being depressed, or whatever the term is, could only be a measure, in fact, of someone’s ignorance, or of someone’s callousness. Of course, the professionals talk about clinical depression (something wrong with your so-called head) and circumstantial depression (something wrong with your so-called love life, pocketbook etc.), to distinguish between those they can do something to or so-called for and those who are going through a rough spot, the dabblers in depression, as it were, the short-timers. When I first saw the Depression Screening Day posters, I immediately thought that the sponsors might do better to identify those who are not, in some way, profoundly depressed, and find out if they have ever watched television news or read newspapers or history books, to really try and understand, as they say, how it is that anyone can be either so ignorant or so callous. But the so-called professionals have no more the tools to discover anything than they have the tools to ameliorate or so-called cure.

What, by the way, will happen with those identified as depressed, those whose so-called depression didn’t prevent them from taking one look at the posters and thinking to themselves, what a hopeless and useless event (in which I wouldn’t take part even if I did believe in any of it)? Is it possible the professionals are running out of depressed people to practice on? Is it possible they could deal with almost the entire population of any given city? Is their so-called success rate increasing to such levels that they need more and more depressed people all the time? Is the so-called health care system in such a rosy state that it can handle vast new numbers of depressed? Is there hope?

Having, by the way, so-called mental health, in a world so terrifying, horrifying, degenerate and, generally, stinky, seems a little like wearing a fur coat at a barbeque. And, what can so-called professionals possibly teach someone who lives in a Downtown Eastside SRO about mental health awareness? What chicanery! What inanity!

Dan Feeney

 

The birthday of an old man

This old man lives in a coastal city of BC. Two years ago he swore one thing for himself: If he could live to one hundred years of age, he would celebrate his birthday by parachuting from a helicopter.

Time flies very fast; he has been one hundred years old since September this year.

His family is very anxious about him, because to parachute is very dangerous for an old man; however, he is a man of strong will.

The helicopter took them around in the sky for about forty minutes. He jumped! Fortunately he was successful in landing.

Afterward, he told his friends that a parachute coach hugged him tightly. The experience seemed to cast him as an old eagle, hovering in the sky… he had a whale of a time.

Submitted by Shang Lung Liao (84)

 

The Privatization of Public Space

The ingress of uniformed rent-a-cops has not led to the egress of their nemeses. If you're poor, homeless, not well-dressed or acceptable, these blanks feel it is their righteous duty and calling to tell you to get the hell out. The baby bulls.. the paper bosses.. it gets pointless to call these people to task but that's exactly what has to be done.

Todd Keller and Darren Kitchen are part of the Main & Hastings Community Development Society. The issue of private security in public spaces is the subject of a documentary film that Todd and others have made and shown in several places. There are many stories from residents and homeless people and youth of harassment, intimidation and physical force at the hands of these people. The film hammers at the "job description" that every wannabe cop seems to fall back on:

- telling people they have to move on or away from wherever and physically forcing the move.
* Private security have no right or legal force to demand that anyone move if the person is on public property.
- threatening people with arrest if they don't stop whatever they are doing or don't move away on their own
* Private security cannot arrest anyone. They are not cops. A citizen's arrest can only be made for an indictable offence. Panhandling or loitering or squeegeeing or selling crafts without a license are by-law infractions and warrant a ticket. Private security cannot write tickets.

The worst stories are of private security assaulting individuals with kicks to the head, destroying personal property, ignoring the limitations of the law or proper procedure and treating residents like they/we are just so much garbage. Justification for this comes from their employers, who give a general direction for job performance - "keep the riffraff away from our business/property/'neighbourhood' and run all the junkies into the ground" … leaving the categorization to the finely tuned and highly trained people who put on the mickey mouse uniforms.

If you don't look nice you're fair game.

Todd connected with the Ministry of Attorney General and knows the legal limitations that all private security must work within. If you can report any incidents involving private security and rent-a-cops, have any witnesses to help make a case, or know of anyone who does, call 688-5303. Stay tuned.

By PAULR TAYLOR

 

Downtown Eastside jobs

Community Directions, the grass roots coalition that has been working to ensure that low-income residents have a voice in the decisions that affect the future of the Downtown Eastside/Strathcona, has secured funding for two full-time, temporary jobs. The jobs are:

• Community organizer
• Asset inventory coordinator

These jobs will be vital in the upcoming months as the community defines its goals and deals with the three levels of government that seem deter-mined to “revitalize” the neighbourhood. Many different special interests, from absentee landlords to business operators to condo owners, want to remake our neighbourhood in their image, so the low-income people who actually live here must have their full say.

Community Directions is a coalition representing more than 50 low-income groups and their allies, from Carnegie, Strathcona and RayCam Centres to the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board and the UBC School of Social Work. More than 200 individuals have also signed the “participation agreement” that sets out the aims of the group.

The job of the community organizer will include working with the full range of community groups, organizing meetings and training programs and helping devise strategies to further the community’s goals. This job is for a one-year period. Deadline to apply is October 29.

The assets inventory coordinator will collect and catalogue all the positive skills and resources in the community that can be used for neighbourhood improvement. This is a six-month job. Deadline to apply is October 25.

Both jobs require an ability to work with a wide variety of people, and experience and familiarity with the kinds of issues we deal with.. Preference will be given to people with knowledge, experience and interest in the Downtown Eastside/Strathcona.

In the near future, Community Directions expects to be posting other jobs which call for specific skills and experiences that only residents can provide.

For details on the two jobs, and on Community Directions, check the community bulletins in Carnegie, Strathcona or Ray-Cam, at the Neighbourhood Safety Office (12 East Hastings) and other locations.

The meetings of Community Directions are totally open, and are held every two weeks at various locations. The next meeting is Thursday, Oct 21, at 3:30 pm at Jennie Pentland Place, Hastings at Jackson.

 

WALL MURAL IN JEOPARDY

Many of you will have noted the addition of a beautiful wall mural on the building at 425 Carrall Street . The mural was done by Jerry Whitehead through a grant he received to paint a wall in the Downtown Eastside. Jerry and a couple of co-artists wanted the wall on the east side of the old Bank of Montreal at Hastings and Carrall. The owner of the building was approached ad he gave his permission for the previously plain white area to be painted.

The mural was there for about a month when a complaint was received by the City. The building owner was notified that a development permit should have been applied for. This would have to include 5 sets of drawings of the building and its location, 5 sets of elevation plans showing the dimensions and colours of the mural, the name and resume of the artist, a statement on the content of the mural and a description of the relationship between the mural and the surrounding neighbourhood. There would also be an application fee of $394.

Needless to say, an error was made in not finding out about the necessary permits before painting the mural. This oversight has put the future of the mural in peril. The cost of getting a permit would have been the fee of $394 plus the cost of the necessary drawings, which would have been an additional $500 to $750.

The building owner now faces a dilemma. He must make the application and pay the costs, risk getting heavily fined for not applying for the permits required, or paint over the mural and put back the original white. Painting it white will again make it the target of graffiti, which has not been a problem since the painting of the mural was completed.

The costs of the permit will not be borne by the owner. On his behalf, DERA has written to the City. A letter sent to the Mayor and City Council from DERA President Ian MacRae, protests the city requirements. "This is an effort by the building owner to allow a local artists to bring dignity and a splash of colour to a street corner which, through unchecked criminal activity, has become a dingy blight."

DERA has sent a following letter requesting the City to forgo the requirements and allow the mural to remain.

[From the DERA Newsletter]

The following letter was sent by someone working at the Ministry offices to a person receiving income assistance.)

To *****
I understand you are renting accommodation for $450 a month plus tax - something in the neighbourhood of $486 per month.
A rough calculation of your monthly benefits indicate that you have $14.00 per month for food.
This is a little less than our Health Board Canada recommends for a well balanced healthy diet.
Would you either move to cheaper accommodation or share your place with someone else.
If I do not hear from you I will assume you have died from malnutrition or you have undisclosed income.
Please contact me at *****
Yours truly, **************
Financial Aid Worker

 

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