Remembering DNC members we have lost
This issue of the DT EAST has our first memorials for community members we have lost. We know that our community has lost many precious members this last month. The two memorials we are including here are of people who were active DNC members and in DNC campaigns. For all future issues, please consider submitting obituaries or memorials for your loved ones and community members.
Danny passed away on May 31 2012 in his hotel room in the York Rooms after a long and mostly unspoken battle with cancer.
His memorial was held on Wednesday July 18th at 2pm in the office of BC Association of People on Methadone. About 40 people came to his memorial service. It was simple and based in his community of friends.
Danny was one of the lead complainants against George Wolsey, who had been abusing people as hotel tenants and methadone patients. He won $6,000 in compensation for being made homeless by Wolsey. He was one of four community representatives and workshop participants at the City’s conference that launched the Methadone task force.
Danny was an inspirational force for a lot of people in the community. Laura Shaver, BCAPOM member, said, “For everyone who misses Danny, let’s just keep fighting back against the people who hurt us. That will make Danny proud.”
The memorial was chaired by Vivienne Bessette, coordinator of BCAPOM. She closed the service by pledging a garden plot on Squamish territory north of Vancouver to Danny’s memory. She said that the best headstone here for him in Vancouver would be a living garden plot.
Richard Marquez, who took Danny to city hall to speak out for a city injunction at the Wonder Rooms, read a poem; “Even now, brother, you pack a smile that could block a bulldozer. If you were a poem you’d unleash a movement.”
His friends at the memorial remembered Danny as vulnerable and suffering because he had such a big heart. He was cursed with being too sensitive, too aware of the pain in other people around him. When we remember him we should remember and protect his sensitivity and goodness. We can’t afford to lose that feeling.
Tina James passed away of health complications in her hotel room in the Grand Union on July 10th. She is missed by her family and her many friends and community in the Downtown Eastside.
Tina was a beloved anchor in the low-income and Aboriginal community. Her friends knew her to be tirelessly happy and always smiling no matter how much she was struggling. Some of them are talking about renaming Pigeon Park to “Tina’s Park” because she was always there.
In an interview from the May issue of the DT EAST Tina said, “Pigeon Park is my comfort zone; it’s where all my friends are. My room is like a closet so I’m up and out of my place at 6:30am. And I’m there all day every day, even in the rain and snow. In the community centres I feel judged. If I go in there they smell my breath and make me feel like I don’t belong. But in the park I have a little family. My life is in the block between the Grand Union and Pigeon Park. If anything goes wrong and I need help I go see my family in Pigeon Park.”
And just days before her loss shocked everyone who knew her, at the DNC general meeting on July 7 Tina said, “The cops are bugging me to get out of Pigeon Park all the time now. It’s my real home and I’m not going anywhere just because the yuppies want it now.”
Tina was an active DNC member who was always making wise cracks from the back row in general meetings, cooking bannock for 100-block resident lunches at the Balmoral, and always with a wry smile and laugh.
Our community is weaker without Tina but we will carry her with us as we march on.