In Fighting For Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction; author, Travis Lupick, recounts how Downtown Eastside activists marched in the streets to force politicians to change how we respond to the challenge of addiction. Drawing from the experience of the drug crisis in Vancouver in the 90’s. Lupick’s work explores a history of harm-reduction activism that connects the story in the book with the Downtown East-side’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. It was a political war that took nearly two decades but the activists eventually won. Today Vancouver is championed for pioneering harm reduction. 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.
Travis Lupick is an award-winning journalist based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction. He has more than a decade’s experience working as a staff reporter and editor for the Georgia Straight newspaper. He has also written about drug addiction, harm reduction, and mental health for the Toronto Star and Al Jazeera English, among other outlets. For his reporting on Canada’s opioid crisis, Lupick received the Canadian Association of Journalists’ prestigious Don McGillivray award for best overall investigative report of 2016 and two 2017 Jack Webster awards for excellence in B.C. journalism. He has also worked as a journalist in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Honduras.