; COMMUNITY-BASED RESEARCH IN THE DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE OF VANCOUVER
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COMMUNITY-BASED RESEARCH IN THE DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE OF VANCOUVER

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For many contemporary readers, the DTES came to their attention in the late 1990s when media reports about out of control, visible drug use gained national attention. Contemporary claims about drug use in the DTES are not new. The DTES has long been constructed as a site of legal and illegal drug use and historically moral reformers and sensationalized media reports have served to "educate" Canadians about the area. In the early 1900s, both Chinatown and opium dens were constructed as racialized sites of immorality where White women and men were corrupted. Anglo-Saxon moral reformers and media reports claimed that Chinese men were luring innocent white girls into a life of addiction and sexual degradation (King, 1908). These unsupported claims (along with class concerns) led to the enactment of Canada's first federal "narcotic" legislation. Yet, illegal drug use and selling did not cease, and following World War II the number of drug convictions increased rapidly in Vancouver. The DTES was home to a large body of "hard living" single men who worked seasonally in isolated areas as loggers, fishers, and miners. Off season they lived in what was called "skid row" (Robertson & Culhane, 2005, p. 17). A "Special Committee on Narcotics" was set up to study the problem. The researchers identified the presence of a "drug addict colony" in the DTES. Their 1956 report, Drug Addiction in British Columbia: A Research Survey, recommended that drug maintenance programs not be established. Rather, abstinence programs and harsher penalties for drug traffickers were advocated (Stevenson et al., 1956). The 1956 report informed policy and practice in the DTES and the rest of Canada. Our failed drug (and social and economic) policy led to the DTES making headlines throughout the world in 1997 when a public health emergency was declared in response to the growing HIV, Hepatitis C and overdose death rates among drug users in the area. It made headlines again in 1999 when Vancouver's "miss

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