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People's History of the Coast Salish Territories: Hogan's Alley

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On Friday, Feb 25, at an event organized by Westcoast Sheen and Rhizome Cafe, the Vancouver-based writer and poet Wayde Compton spoke about the multi-racial neighbourhood that was once upon a time located where the Georgia Viaduct is situated now before getting dismantled by the city in the name of renovation and progress, the effect of which was depriving the dislocated populations of a sense of community. As Wayde Compton pointed out during his lecture, the Lower Mainland has more black people than all of Nova Scotia, whereas most people have this false notion that Vancouver is completely devoid of the African Diaspora.

The speaker also drew parallels between what happened to Hogan's Alley back then and the hand with which the city is dealing with the residents of the Downtown Eastside right now. Another point that was highlighted was how little significance the city has given and continues to give to this former multi-cultural enclave, as, one might argue, the dominant Anglo culture tends to behave with respect to diversity in general: ignore it and hope that it will go away.

As John Ralston Saul points out, the presence of a dominant French culture that was constantly challenging the English Canadian hegemony had a very profound effect on the psyche of (Eastern) Canada. However, that effect appears not to have made its way all the way to Western Canada, where the old colonial ideas of homogeneity and racial/ideological purity appear to have a firm grip on the popular consciousness, at the expense of an appreciation for genuine diversity and multiculturalism, not to mention the beautiful indigenous culture that goes on being trampled upon.