According to a PIVOT legal society poll, Vancouver’s Downtown East Side has the poorest postal code in all of Canada. Over 5000 injection drug users live within the neighbourhood’s 10 block radius and overdose and suicide are the leading cause of death. HIV is becoming an epidemic with 30 per cent of the local population affected, most of them women who sell sex in order to meet subsistence needs such as food and shelter.

With an open air drug market, addiction is at the core of this suburb’s problems. Residents live on the street or in sub-standard single room accommodations that are rife with bed bugs and super bugs.

While the area is given media attention it often serves to stigmatise the residents. It is easy to forget it is a real suburb home to real
people, suffering great loss of quality of life and health due to addiction.

Hopefully these images can stimulate compassionate dialogue on addiction and the resulting consequences on both human life and community safety.

Claire Martin