April 13, 2023 edition - So... About the DTES

Street sweeps, compassion clubs, and an underground gallery


On Wednesday of last week, the City of Vancouver rerouted buses away from Hastings Street, created an exclusion zone, and began systematically throwing peoples’ tents and belongings into dump trucks.

It was an emotional day for those watching the decampment unfold via social media, on the news, or in person, and a tragic one for those whose shelter, belongings, and community were taken from them.

Today’s newsletter includes a commentary piece from Hamish Ballantyne, a community organizer at VANDU, and Molly Beatrice, a freelance stage director and organizer with Stop the Sweeps.

The article depicts the devastation wrought by “an occupying force suppressing dissent in its poorest neighbourhood,” the importance of being able to live together as a community, and the legal precedent backing the existence of tent cities when no other viable housing options are available.

Find that story here, or by scrolling further down in this newsletter.

You might've missed:

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"Everyone else is too afraid”: DULF's unsanctioned compassion club saves lives

Eris Nyx didn’t think she’d be spending her time running a compassion club.

“I’m an artist by trade, I’m not a fucking drug dealer,” she says in a phone call with the Straight. “And I certainly don’t like doing math.”

And yet, the co-founder of the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) is running an ambitious, unsanctioned program that’s trying to remove people at high risk of poisoned drug death from the unregulated illicit supply by selling its club members pure, tested drugs—and studying what happens next.


Attend a free International Universities Fair

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) invites students, parents, and counsellors to explore the university search process at the NACAC International Universities Fair in Vancouver, held on Saturday, Apr. 29, 2023 from 1–4p.m.


Commentary: The Hastings street sweep does nothing to address homelessness

A commentary piece from Hamish Ballantyne, a community organizer at VANDU, and Molly Beatrice, a freelance stage director and organizer with Stop the Sweeps.

Many encampment residents had been living unhoused in and around the Hastings strip for years, constantly forced to pack up their stuff and move on, always returning because the Downtown Eastside is the only community where they felt safe. They often spoke of their pride at being part of a real community, where neighbours actually look out for each other.


Gastown7 provides a vital new hub for Vancouver artists

It’s a quiet Tuesday night in Gastown, but descend into the basement of an apparently closed restaurant, and the first thing that will hit you is the sound.

Hip-hop beats float over the buzz of inebriated chatter, fusing into an atmosphere of intoxicating excitement. Venture further, and you’ll discover art pieces bedecking the walls of the cellar bar, transforming the space into a dynamic underground gallery, as the artists themselves mingle with friends, newcomers, and creators from all disciplines.

This is Gastown7, an eclectic gathering of artists and other creatives who’ve come to meet, mix and admire the artwork on display—and it’s exactly what Vancouver’s art scene needs.

Featured arts listings

  • Stupid F*cking Bird: Sort of adapted from Chekhov’s The Seagull, Posner’s contemporary retelling of the comedic tragedy has original songs, live music, and irreverent wit. | April 12 to 23 | $25 | Historic Theatre

  • Hey Viola!: A musical exploration of Canadian civil rights trailblazer Viola Desmond—the fearless woman featured on Canada’s $10 bill. | April 13 to 22 | $35 | Gateway Theatre

  • Celebrate poetry month at Verses Festival of Words. For tickets and information visit VancouverPoetryHouse.com.*

  • Sibling Revelry: Sibling Revelry features textile art by Eliza Massey Stanford, photography by Nathaniel Massey, sculpture by Raymond Massey, and ceramics by Vincent Massey. | To April 23 | Free | Ferry Building Gallery

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Photo of Raven performers by Andy Phillipson

Check out The Cultch's Femme Festival—Vancouver's biggest celebration of female-identifying artists!

Experience circus, comedy, and plays across three stages in East Van.

Explore the festival.


Louise Burns escapes with her epic Element

There is a rural village located in Baja California Sur, with buttery sand and warm turquoise waves that fall into perfect breaks, prime for surfing.

Before the pandemic, Louise Burns had been spending a lot of time there, at the beach. The easy roll of the ocean and the chirping birds and their flapping wings offered relief from her daily grind, where Burns had been working to the bone to prove herself as a producer and musician.

The beach, and its calming effect, would also inspire her new album, Element, a stunning collection of songs out on April 21.

Featured music events

  • Tennis: The American indie-pop band from Denver will be in Vancouver with special guests Loving for a show at the Vogue Theatre. | April 20 | $22.50 | Vogue Theatre

  • Tei Shi: The Colombian-Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer is performing at the Fox Cabaret on April 18. | 7pm | April 18 | $25 | Fox Cabaret

  • Pussy Riot: Catch the global feminist protest art movement that is Pussy Riot at the Hollywood Theatre with special guest Boyfriend. | 8pm | April 18 | $25 | Hollywood Theatre

  • The Turning: Chor Leoni & The Leonids: Experience an evocative, boundary-busting choral concert about how music can change our hearts, minds, and world. May 11.*

  • Elvis Costello & The Imposters, with special guest Charlie Sexton, are proud to announce: “We're All Going On A Summer Holiday”—a 23 date tour commencing on June 7 in Vancouver.*

  • Don’t miss critically acclaimed supergroup The New Pornographers, touring in support of their new record while also playing a plethora of favourites from their expansive catalog.*

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Some Assembly Theatre’s The Identity Bureau is a must see, for free, at the Roundhouse April 28-29 at 7:30pm.

A bold and existential play created by diverse youth with playwright and director Valerie Methot, and industry professionals. Learn more.


Welcome to the collaborative world of Vancouver D&D

For the better part of a month, I—“I” being Chandler, the editor of this here newsletter, hello there—hopped around Vancouver’s Dungeons & Dragons scene, interviewing players and GMs alike, participating in games, and getting to the bottom of what it is that makes TTRPGs so special to those who have made them such a big part of their lives.

The Rest of the events

  • Sakura Days Japan Fair Apr. 15-16 celebrates all things Japan: over 20 food trucks, performances, arts, and crafts surrounded by the spring-blooming VanDusen Garden!*

  • Five-Bottle Bar Cocktail Making: Five bottles, a few glasses, and a can-do attitude is all you’ll need for some stellar cocktails—as proven at this free conversation about Jessica Schacht’s book on cocktail creation. | April 18 | Free | Book Warehouse

  • The Late Show: Late night means adults only for this delightfully dirty show at The Improv Centre. | April 15 | 11:15pm | $15 | The Improv Centre

  • Posse Power: A Groovy Gala of Cabaret and Burlesque: Combining the energy of classic burlesque, vintage cabaret and dance, this show will transport you to a different time that celebrates splendour in all its forms. | April 15 | $40 | Hollywood Theatre

  • Delight in every bite! Get a taste of Dockside Restaurant’s seasonally inspired menu surrounded by Vancouver’s waterfront views! Reserve your table now.*

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