Fighting for Space by Travis Lupick
I look forward to finishing Fighting for Space by Travis Lupick. I attended a launch event for this new book on Nov. 16, where comments from guest panelists and questions from the crowd made it clear that this work sparks thought and conversation.
The subtitle tells you more: How a group of drug users transformed one city’s struggle with addiction. But this book reaches far beyond a mere summary of Vancouver’s harm reduction strategies. Lupick draws on a broader view, describing people and situations from across North America and Europe.
I appreciate that Lupick treats this less-than-happy subject matter with a direct and hopeful tone. There are no generic drug addicts in generically dire straits; instead we meet real people in recognizable places. Flip through pages or (book lover style) browse the index and see names most Vancouverites will instantly recognize, like Bud Osborn, Balmoral Hotel, Insite, Libby Davies, Jenny Kwan, Gabor Maté, Riverview Hospital, Oppenheimer Park.
Travis Lupick is the right author for this book: his coverage of Canada’s opiod crisis won a Canadian Association of Journalists award for best overall investigative report of 2016.
As the branch head of VPL’s new nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona branch, I find this book especially interesting and important, for providing one more set of voices and perspectives on the community where I work.
Friends of the VPL supported this new branch by funding one of its unique features: a digital art creation by community artist Lisa g Nielsen. Lisa’s piece captures many community faces and voices as they explore – and learn to pronounce – the name nə́c̓aʔmat ct which means “we are one” in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm language of the Musqueam people. Members of the Musqueam nation were heavily involved in both the process and the final product. Thanks to Friends of the VPL, this beautiful video allows us to have many informative, engaging and often moving conversations with community members.
Stephanie Kripps is Branch Head of nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona, the newest branch in the VPL system.