We met Chris alongside his partner of three years. Each pushing a shopping cart full of various objects, we had a long, insightful conversation into the community, discrimination against women, and what’s behind drug addiction.
The community of the downtown Eastside was the first thing we discussed. When asked if making friends makes the day more bearable, they described that they have made no more than two friends in the span of three years. Chris stated mental illness as a cause and an issue of the hostile community. He recounted how the city closed a local mental hospital and loaded the patients into a school bus and dispersed them among the Eastside. Leaving is not a choice, he said. The Vancouver housing crisis is famous for causing trouble in the lives of many prospective citizens and municipal workers, but no one has depicted the terrible effect it has on residents of the Eastside. Chris described the further discrimination against residents in not being approved for apartment applications.
The problems don’t stop at housing. “Women are very beautiful and should be cared for, not looked at like property.” The discrimination against women ranges from men catcalling and asking “how much?”, to calling them “hoes” and “bitches”. He made a point of women deserving safer housing due to the treatment being ten times worse. Although he also stated the way women treat each other induces some of the bad treatment, he blamed most of the disrespect of women on pop culture and parents not teaching their kids proper etiquette. “Chivalry is dead”, he concluded.
“A lot of people think drug users are dumbass idiots, but they’re not”, he declared, “The only difference between you and I is that I do drugs. Everything is about getting drugs”. When asked about where drug addiction stems from in most residents, Chris identified pain, “Everyone here uses drugs to mask pain”. He described how he had a good life with beautiful women, cars and houses, good jobs, loving kids but fell back to drugs, three years ago.
Somber yet very insightful, this conservation with Chris was an incredible experience. All that we can hope for Chris is to see him get back on his feet as soon possible.