Learn more about Vancouver’s overdose epidemic in the 1990s and how it applies to today’s opioid crisis, from award-winning journalist and author Travis Lupick.
Lupick will deliver a multimedia presentation based on his latest book, Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction as part of NorthIsland College’s Write Here Readers Series Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 7 pm.
The reading takes place in the Stan Hagen Theatre at NIC’s Comox Valley campus. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.
Fighting for Space received the 2018 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Lupick has also received two Jack Webster Awards for excellence in B.C. journalism and the prestigious Don McGillivray award from the Canadian Association of Journalists for his reporting on Canada’s opioid crisis.
Lupick has toured the book in North Carolina, Massachusetts and other U.S. states, where it has been called a “master class in activism on how to respond to the fentanyl crisis” but his interest began after covering the current overdose crisis for Vancouver’s Georgia Straight newspaper.
“When the overdose epidemic began in the 1990s, the community responded in these really incredible ways and it was unbelievable to me that no one had put that story down somewhere,” said Lupick.
When the government was slow to respond to the epidemic, activists and residents of the Downtown Eastside stepped in to fill that gap and ended up leading the city’s response.
“The idea with Fighting for Space was to really say ‘Hey guys, we’ve been through this before and maybe we can save you a lot of time and you don’t have to go through the 10-year conversation about harm reduction that we did’,” he said. “We’ve seen some of these lessons applied with the current crisis, especially in terms of involving drug users and those on the front lines in the decision-making process early.”
Lupick says there has been growing interest in the story, especially in areas that have been hard hit by the fentanyl crisis.
“It’s good people are taking an interest in Vancouver’s story with the hope that they can learn from the successes and mistakes we made.”