Opioid Epidemics, Environmental Injustice, and the Right to Remain in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 4:10:00 PM - Wednesday, January 25, 2017 5:30:00 PM
Rm.149(basement), Earth Sciences Building, 5 Bancroft Ave.
Environment & Health Seminar

JEFF MASUDA, Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies and the Department of Geography, Queen’s University

ABSTRACT: Amidst the mounting human casualties taking place at the epicentre of Canada's current fentanyl and (likely) carfentanil crisis, we once again observe leaders, heroes, and creative solutions emerging from the "ground up" within strong social networks and front line support systems that are so infamous, yet also maligned, in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. This presentation, coming on the heels of a multi-year research project, provides a timely perspective about the roots and routes of this crisis, found in the sordid history of colonial urbanization, human oppression, and dispossession - but also the lasting legacy of human rights achievement - that has characterized this neighbourhood for over a century. While discourses of urban revitalization and public health solutions once again take centre stage in efforts to contain this latest emergency (while also contributing to the media's insatiable appetite to disparage the neighbourhood and its people), our research provides an important corrective to the story of the Downtown Eastside, also told from the "ground up," that speaks to the stubborn resilience and the persistent pursuit of that community's Right to Remain that will see this latest crisis through. 

BRIEF BIO: Jeff Masuda is Canada Research Chair in Environmental Health Equity and Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University. Trained as a social geographer, Jeff's work bridges environmental justice, human rights, and health. His work focusing on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has been featured in documentary films, museum and arts exhibits, and community festivals and is published in /Social Science & Medicine/, /Progress in Human Geography/, /Health & Place/, /Local Environment/, and numerous book chapters.