Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Community-Based Research in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Community-Based Research in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver

Article excerpt

This paper examines the rewards and problematics of doing community-based research in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. British Columbia, It examines how the research process, experiences, and goals of a project may differ depending on one's social location in and outside of the project. Further it highlights collaboration and tensions, especially about class, privilege, and ways of knowing, between faculty, research assistants (RAs), and community-based researchers (CBRs). The Health and Home Research Project, Housing and Health among Low-income Women in Downtown Eastside Vancouver (H&H project) can be understood as space where collaboration occurred and where structural and personal relations, identities, and the replication of dominance prevailed,

Cet article examine les gains et problemes souleves par la recherche a base communautaire dans le Downtown Eastside de Vancouver, Colombie-Britannique. Il examine la facon dont le processus de recherche, les experiences et objectifs d'un projet peuvent varier selon sa situation sociale a l'interieur et l'exterieur du projet. De plus, il porte a I'attention la collaboration et les tensions entre professeurs, assistants de recherche et chercheurs communautaires, surtout en ce qui a trait a la classe, le privilege et les modalites du savoir. Le projet de recherche. Health and Home, House and Health among Low-income Women in Downtown Eastside Vancouver, peut etre envisage comme un espace ou la collaboration a eu lieu et ou les relations et identites personnelles et structurales, ainsi que la replication de la dominance ont perdure.

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One of the primary goals of a research project in downtown Vancouver was to provide a space for the voices of low-income women on the links between health and housing. The project, "Health and Home Research Project, Housing and Health among Low-income Women in Downtown Eastside Vancouver, British Columbia" (H&H Project), was designed to "explore" different ways of doing research that would include the "women as both researchers and research subjects" (Robertson & Culhane, 2005, p. 8). In 2002, project coordinator Dara Culhane and I discussed the possibility that I would interview a sample of the community-based researchers (CBRs) and student research assistants (RAs) who had worked on the Project. (1)

My distance from the everyday running of the project and my familiarity with the Downtown Eastside (DTES) influenced my decision to work on this component of the Health and Home research. I believed, as did the other members of the project, that the CBRs and RAs had much to contribute about their experience of community-based research in the DTES. I also thought that their voices would contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of collaborative research and to the creation of guidelines for future community projects. In addition, I was interested in how the DTES and the H&H Project would be represented by the CBRs and the RAs.

The DTES is one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods. Forty percent of its residents are thought to be Aboriginal and 20 percent East Asian and Latino/a. Robertson and Culhane make clear that it is not an "accident nor coincidence that a disproportionate number of people living in poverty" in the DTES are Aboriginal; the city of Vancouver rests on territory that was held by Coast Salish First Nations peoples for thousands of years (Robertson & Culhane, 2005, p. 16). Colonization and the forced dispossession of Aboriginal peoples shapes what is known as the DTES today.

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. …

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